Billy Joe Anderson, Founder & Director, Center Healing for Children
Billy Joe Andersonís passion for the work of Center Healing took root at age 9. His
grandfather, a ranch foreman, ďnot only taught me to ride, train and care for horses,Ē
Billy recalls, ďbut also showed me the power horses have to reach youngsters with
problems. We would take his horses to the local home for children with disabilities.
It was an incredible experience that affected me deeply.Ē
When Billy was 15, his great-great-grandmother, a Native American, introduced him
to healing powers of Native American medicine. Billy learned additional horse skills on the
reservation and learned he was a Shaman. He also is a Reiki Master and Qigong
practitioner. Billy relies on all his skills ďto help children grow up to be more
confident and feel good about themselves in the face of problems.Ē
Billy Joe and his horses have worked with about 1,500 youngsters, including 50
children he and his wife, Sue, have foster parented. Along with riding skills, the
children learn to care for the horses. In 2007, Billy Joe
created Center Healing for Children as a non-profit organization to help more youngsters.
Billy Joe carries out the Centerís mission with the tireless assistance of Rita Swilpa, Center Administrator, who sets
up learning sessions, helps with the Equine Facilitated Learning and teaches yoga and meditation. With a Masterís
Degree in Special Education, Rita has been an educator for more than 20 years, specializing in special needs children.
Rita also serves as a CASA volunteer, representing foster children in court, many of whom have severe emotional
problems and are classified as special needs children. She also has volunteer experience at a childís psychiatric
center, a Womenís Crisis Center and with hospice. Rita practices Yoga, meditation, Reiki and Qigong.
April Loop, RN, holds an Associate Degree in nursing as well as a vocational nursing certificate. She is a certified
Massage Therapist, Reiki Master and Level 4 Qigong practitioner. April serves as an important resource for the
children we serve, making recommendations that we implement with parentsí approval.
William Karjala, Carpenter, makes sure the Center is maintained in good and safe working order. The man
can build and fix anything we ask of him! Bill also is invaluable in our fundraising efforts.
Susanne Esch is an RN with an Associateís Degree in Nursing and Bachelors in Health Care Administration.
She has held a number of administrative and management position in various health care fields. She has experience in
marketing, fundraising, public speaking as well as, financial, business and human resource management.
She had also owned a local printing company at one time and gained many of her graphic design, marketing
and business management skills there.
Susanne, along with her husband John are also parents of a special needs children. As parents they both understand
the complexity of having special needs children and also realize the great impact this has on the entire family.
The Eschs love of horses and quest for an equine program for their children first brought them to the Center. Now,
along with Billy Joeís patience, understanding and loving guidance we all participate in the Centerís program as a family.
They also volunteer at the Center with donations in kind, financial support and give generously of their time. Susanne is
the Centerís Fundraising Coordinator and does much of the graphic design for the Centerís brochures, flyers, stationary and documents.
She will also be involved in grant writing and procurement to assist in the expansion of the Centerís facilities.
John graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Mt. Angel, Oregon in 1984 and joined the United States Army the same year.
John served in Active Duty for 3 years as a helicopter crew chief. Upon completing his 3 year active duty enlistment,
John joined the Oregon Army National Guard and served as a UH-1H and OH-58 technician and crewchief. In 1991, John was hired into
full-time position to fill an administrative roll, which included technology management and documentation, readiness NCO,
and continued to serve as an aircraft crewchief. In 1994, his National Guard unitís designation was switched to the 1042nd Medical Company,
In 2002, John served in one tour in Afghanistan as platoon sergeant and UH-60L crewchief. Early in 2006,
John retired from the military with 22+ years of service and today, he also volunteers in caring for the horses and the Centerís facilities.
He is also the webmaster and blogmaster for the Centerís web and blog site.
Chris Olson comes to us with fifteen years as a 4-H leader and ten years as a Life Skills trainer for special needs children,focusing on the autistic child.
She holds a BS in Child and Family Mental Health, and is currently in school going for a Master's degree in Counseling.
She is also the current supervisor for CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children.