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SonRise Equestrian Foundation was founded in December 2005 by Melanie Buerke Bartoletti.

As a young child, Melanie’s world was shattered when her father abandoned her family. At the time, Melanie’s mother recognized that her daughter's passion for horses could be a way to help heal her broken heart. She bought Melanie her first horse when she was eleven years old. That horse and its surroundings helped Melanie deal with a difficult childhood.


As a young adult, when Melanie’s world was darkened by the unexpected loss of her mother, horses once again helped her cope. During this process, Melanie recognized a call on her life -- to develop a place where children facing challenges and shattered lives could experience refuge in the presence of horses. SonRise is the product of that call, a special place where children find a loving and accepting community.


SonRise opened its doors at Charles Wilhelm's training facility in Castro Valley on May 1, 2006 with two horses, three participants, and just a handful of volunteers. By God's grace, SonRise continues to serve our community today.



While SonRise is not a religious organization, our program is based on Christian morals and values.  We do not require our volunteers to believe in those core values, but we expect that they will respect and uphold them.  Faith at SonRise is lived not preached. Because the Board of Directors, Staff, and Mentors believe in God and the saving grace of His Son Jesus Christ, it is our greatest desire to serve God by the demonstration of our faith through action. It is our highest honor to serve children and families of all backgrounds. No participant is ever denied our services on a religious or ethnic basis.


SonRise Statement of Faith

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.


We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His Sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return to power and glory.


We believe that for the salvation of the lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, and that this salvation is received only through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and not as a result of good works.


We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life and to perform good works.


We believe in the resurrection of the saved, into eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.


We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.