• 70°

Sharing the Season 2015: Happy’s Farm

By Shavonne Walker


Three days a week, Mikaela Maines spends her afternoons at Happy’s Farm learning to do what she plans to do for the rest of her life.

Maines, 15, started volunteering at the nonprofit, after-school tutoring facility to help with some of its animals, but she’s content doing this forever.

The shy Carson High School student is but one student amongst the throngs of young children who step foot onto the property, which resembles a Western town.

“It’s a really great place. I love every minute I spend here,” Maines said.

The organization was established by Rhonda Stirewalt, a math and science teacher in the Rowan-Salisbury School System. Her goal was to have a relaxed, Western town setting in which children could receive affordable academic tutoring and child care.

The farm is named after William “Happy” Trexler, Stirewalt’s great-grandfather and the first owner of Happy’s Lake.

Happy’s Farm opened in late 2007 with just three tutoring students. In January 2010, the farm became a nonprofit organization and now has more than 60 children enrolled in the tutoring and after-school program. Happy’s Farm Inc. is located at 985 Parks Road.

Stirewalt has been able to see her dream continue throughout the years with the help of in-kind and monetary gifts from family, friends and the community at large. She’s always grateful, she said, to receive help to add to the property.

She was able to build a kitchen and movie screening room a few years ago with the help of local donors. Stirewalt’s latest plans are to incorporate military memorabilia in a tunnel on the property. If Stirewalt had the funds, she’d include a wheelchair ramp to make the facility more handicapped accessible.

“With the ramp, we’ll be able to reach more children and people with special needs,” Stirewalt said.

She’s recruited James “Gabby” Trexler to create a veterans program. Trexler was a paratrooper in the Army where he served in Vietnam.

“I want children to realize the price people paid for their freedom,” Trexler said.

The plan is to make the program recreational and educational.

Stirewalt said it’s because of people like Trexler and others who’ve given to the organization over the years who “believe in me” that make it possible to continue. Happy’s Farm is one of dozens of local nonprofits who have needs that perhaps they can’t meet on their own.

It is their hope that people in the community may see their needs — be it office supplies, volunteers or monetary gifts — and respond.

“I’m just so grateful. It’s the earthly angels that help me,” Stirewalt said.

She said one of the biggest needs right now is hay and sweet feed for the animals. During the winter months, the power bill can be astronomical so monetary donations would really help out, she said.

“We are wanting to construct a handicap horse mounting platform for special needs children and disabled veterans. So, lumber and building supplies as well as building volunteers would be a dream to be able to make that happen,” Stirewalt said.

For more information and how to contribute to the organization’s needs contact Rhonda Stirewalt at 704-279-5268.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.


China Grove

Reaper’s Realm owners promise beefed-up security after weekend shooting


Contractor expands local footprint, takes on county’s coronavirus projects


Home Improvement: Holiday gifts to spark home improvement ideas


Political Notebook: Local parties will host watch parties for presidential debate


China Grove man cited for driving through school field


October closure hearings set for Faith, Enochville elementary schools


Police say man gave false name after high speed chase, crashing into lumber truck


Nearly 400 cases considered currently active in the county


Rowan-Cabarrus Community College creates free course to help parents tackle virtual learning


New unemployment claims down in August, could indicate positive trend for businesses


Salisbury man faces drug possession charges after overdose call


Police: Man charged after children call 911 from neighbor’s house

Ask Us

Ask Us: Who are people behind sign at City Park playground?


Prison in Salisbury latest site of COVID-19 outbreak


Blotter: Salisbury Man charged with felony assault by strangulation


Trump vows quick Supreme Court vote, Biden urges delay for Nov. 3


New rule may strip pollution protections from popular lakes

East Spencer

East Spencer draws crowd for annual community day


In Rowan’s legislative races, Howard, Warren get off to strongest start in fundraising


From Navy SEAL to Medicare agent, Trent Waller looks to continue serving his community


In 13th Congressional District race, Budd, Huffman differ on government’s role in COVID-19 help


Rowan County Telecommunications joins new state digital 911 system


School board will consider scheduling public hearings for Faith, Enochville closures


Biz Roundup: Food Lion makes donation to support racial equality and justice