The Hope Center Visionaries are people who volunteer their time and talent to make the Hope Center possible. Experienced experts diverse and committed to the cause of enriching the lives of others.


Richard Schemel, Sr., Board of Directors


Rick Schemel has been working with, riding, and enjoying horses his entire life.

His many talents and professional experiences have made a tremendous impact on the formation of the Hope Center.  He is a native of Perryville, Missouri and a graduate of St. Louis University where he obtained a B.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1961 in the Transportation Corps as technical inspector on H-21 helicopters.

During his career as an engineer he was also a general contractor and started and owned a successful construction company; R.A. Schemel & Associates.  He owned, or was a partner in, various successful businesses including St. Mary’s Lumber Co., Ridgeline Estates, Missouri Marble Co., Downtown Mall Corp., Valley-Ridge Development Co., and SEMO Pork.

He retired in 1992 and he and his wife Claire began a successful horse breeding operation known as Schemel Stables.  At the stables Rick and Claire raised and bred Arabian horses to help resurrect the black gene of the Arabian horse breed and exported most of the offspring to European and Asian countries.   Ricks specialty was raising and training Tennessee Walking horses.  One of his stallions; “Finals Threats Supreme”, was crowned a Grand Champion in 1988.  He showed frequently in the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee.   An Arabian Stallion, “The Titan”, finished in the top 10 in Scottsdale, Arizona and was the 2006 Champion at the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, Texas.

His community involvement includes serving as Road District Commissioner, Jaycee Club President, Perry County Draft Board Member (20 years), School Board President, Parish Council Member, Lions Club President, Perry Animal Welfare Society President, Perry County Military History Museum President and Hope Therapeutic Horsemanship Center President.

Rick & Claire have been married for over 50 years and have two children, Richard Jr. and Karen, both graduates of the United States Military Academy / West Point.  His has recently transitioned his horse breeding operation to an outdoor horse arena for the community as well as a therapeutic riding center.  Although retired he is actively involved in community service and enjoying his time with his family and friends.  In addition to being the President and Founder of the Hope Center he is the volunteer Equine Specialist for the center.


 Claire Schemel, Bookkeeper/Accountant


Claire Schemel is the current bookkeeper for The Hope Center.  She oversaw the bookkeeping for her husband Rick’s general construction corporation until he retired.  She also spent many years with Rick owning and operating Schemel Stables.  She owned and operated Schemel Asbestos Abatement, Inc., until her son Rick, Jr., resigned from the military to own and lead the company.  She is currently president of the Ladies of Charity in Perryville which runs a large food pantry for the poor.  Claire takes great pride in her husband Rick, her two children and their spouses: Rick, Jr. & Jean; Karen Soscia & Bill; and, of course, her beautiful, talented granddaughters Julia, Olivia, Sarah and Maria.

 Lisa Best, Board of Directors


Lisa Best  She is the President of Walter Enterprises, LLC and owner of an after-school learning franchise in St. Louis, Missouri.  She has been in the field of education for over 20 years.  She earned a B.S. in Business Education, B.A. in Spanish and M.A. in Educational Administration from Southeast Missouri State University.  She has experience in the administration of both profit and nonprofit organizations.  She has served as both a school teacher and a school administrator.  She served on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Crisis Center, was a Girl Scout Leader and is currently a 4-H Leader and American Legion Auxiliary member.  From her tenure in the school system Lisa has experience serving the disabled and developing their individual education plans.  Lisa spends most of her time for the center researching and applying for grants, organizing special events and helping with the scheduling of clients.  She and her husband Jim have two daughters; Jamie and Lacey.  She loves spending time with her family and friends and enjoys the therapy she receives from horses.  Her joy comes not just from riding horses but in watching the horses interact with each other, learning their behaviors, and in grooming them.

 Jim Best, Board of Directors


Jim Best  He is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania where he grew up in a farming community.  He is a nine year Army Veteran and a Veteran of the Gulf War.  He is a retired Correctional Lieutenant with the Illinois Department of Corrections.  He loves to be around animals, especially horses.  He enjoys riding horses and learning everything there is for their care and training of them.  He helps to ensure that the grounds are kept clean and safe for both animals and people.  He and his wife Lisa have two daughters and reside in Perryville.

The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens. 
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