Hightstown, NJ — Amy and Stacy Butewicz have been around horses for nearly their entire lives. Amy began riding at the age of 4 and Stacy followed in her older sister’s footsteps. Several years ago, they were introduced to harness racing and fell in love with the Standardbred, the sport, and the people.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closing of New Jersey’s racetracks earlier this month, Amy and Stacy knew there would be people in the harness racing industry in need of assistance because of the loss of income. Last week, with cooperation from the Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey, they announced a food assistance program for those in the industry in the state.
The program allows an individual or family to obtain a food assistance bag, every other week. The bags will include non-perishables, canned goods, household products and more. As of Tuesday morning, 13 individuals/families were enrolled in the program.
“We expect that number to grow as people find out about the program and we will continue to accept anyone in need from the industry within New Jersey,” Amy said. “Just in the days that we’ve rolled out this program, it’s really been a tremendous help. We’re going to have our first deliveries go out this week and we will keep it going every other week until live racing resumes.”
Amy and Stacy, who work together at Butewicz Equestrian Lifestyle Real Estate – Keller Williams Princeton, have received support from others in harness racing, including trainers and veterinarians, in the form of donations or supermarket gift cards.
The sisters are no strangers to helping others. Among their philanthropic endeavors, they volunteer at a food pantry in central New Jersey.
“I think our experience definitely made us feel more capable in taking this on, but Amy and I are always looking for ways to help people,” Stacy said. “The opportunity to be able to help people one-on-one is what we love the most. Once we realized what was going on with the industry and how many people could be affected, we realized some of those people would be struggling. We thought of those people and jumped into it.”
Stacy and Amy hope the program reduces the financial impact on people, who must feed not only themselves and their families, but their horses.
“The horse people we know care so much about those animals that they’re willing to give up a meal for themselves,” Stacy said. “We are thinking about the horses, too, and wanted to do whatever we could to lighten the burden on what is coming out of people’s pockets in their personal situation.”
To register for the program, please use either following method, and include your name, address and training center/stable location. Requests will be kept confidential.
TEXT “ASSIST” to 732.887.5649.
EMAIL “ASSIST” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Items will be delivered directly to individuals/families or placed in a secure location for pick up.
Arrangements also can be made for anyone wanting to donate dry goods or supermarket gift cards by contacting the above number or email address.
“Both of us in the past three or four years have absolutely grown to love the Standardbred as a horse,” Amy said. “Horses have always been in our blood. We got into this fairly late in our equestrian careers, but we absolutely love it.
“The other thing we have seen is this is an industry that is so much like a family. One person really and truly cares about another; one stable is friendly with another. With what is going on right now, we’ve seen people really uniting and working together. It’s been great.”