Category Archives: Volunteer of the Month

July Volunteer of the Month: Samantha Jacobsen

Sam and Stevie

Native Washingtonian Samantha Jacobsen is being recognized by Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE) horse rescue as July Volunteer of the Month for serving on multiple chore shifts and helping out at special events, most recently at Redmond Derby Days.

Sam has been interested in and involved with horses since childhood. When she was 15, her family moved to Redmond, “where we had about 15 acres and eventually five horses,” she says. “We were there for about 10 years. One of my favorite experiences was when we bred one of our mares. Being a part of the birthing process and then raising the foal was something I will always cherish.”

She discovered SAFE in 2015 while working a a desk job and looking for a volunteer opportunity that involved physical activity. “Luckily, SAFE was the first thing that popped up in my search!”

“I am so proud to be part of this organization,” she says. “I continue to be impressed by the hard work, dedication, devotion and pure love that goes into running SAFE. The people and the horses, of course, keep me coming back. I’ve never felt so good about scooping poop – and knowing that every job contributes to the bigger picture. It’s so rewarding to see, especially with some of our more severe cases, the progress they make not only physically but emotionally as well. Just knowing that the horses know they are now in a safe, loving environment makes me more happy than I can say.” I’m sure this has been said before, but I know that I have benefited tenfold by my experience with SAFE and I plan to be here as long as they will have me.”

Sam says Stevie holds a particularly special place in her heart. He and Lacey (rescued together) were the first complete transformation she witnessed.  “Stevie was so thin, but always so curious and accepting of me when I would muck his stall and paddock. He was like a little puppy. Now, to see both of them so healthy and happy is truly a testament to all the hard work the staff and volunteers have contributed.”

SAFE could not exist without all the many dedicated volunteers like Sam who ensure that SAFE horses have adequate food, water and a clean living environment every day.

Bothell Family Honored as SAFE June Volunteers of the Month

Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE) is pleased to recognize the family of Tim Clancy and Stephanie Norman and daughter Jennifer Clancy as Volunteers of the Month for June.

Stephanie and Jennifer work a weekly barn chore shift, while Tim steps in to work alongside Jennifer when Stephanie is unavailable (she works full time as a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist specializing in marine creatures).

Stephanie began riding at age 12, and she was hooked on SAFE when she spied Sunny D and Shasta during one of the minis’ appearances at PetSmart in Woodinville. She stopped at the SAFE booth and soon after, she and Jennifer signed on to volunteer together. Not only did they make the weekly barn chore commitment, but Jennifer and her dad, Tim, also worked tirelessly during SAFE’s move to Redmond in February.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, the family now makes their home in Bothell. The three say they get a sense of accomplishment and enjoy taking care of SAFE horses until they find their forever homes. While they like all the horses, Stephanie admits to a soft spot for King.

SAFE is an amazing haven for horses because of people like this trio of dedicated volunteers!

May Volunteer of the Month: Michelle Stokke

MIchelle and her horse Gino
For tirelessly volunteering on multiple chore shifts at the barn and for the many unsolicited hours she contributes, SAFE has chosen Seattle native Michelle Stokke as May’s Volunteer of the Month.

Michelle’s lifelong love of horses started with a pony ride at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. “It is actually my first true memory,” she says. “The leather saddle, pungent scent of pony, the soft fur, playing with the bits of mane I could reach and the sun shining through the trees . . . I was lost from that moment.”

SAFE first came to Michelle’s attention when her high school classmate Terry Phelps-Peddy invited her for a tour. Michelle started volunteering and enjoyed the comradeship in support of a good cause and being around horses. She misses her horse Gino since he was retired to southern California and admits she is quietly looking for a new companion.

A full time employee of the Boeing Company, Michelle enjoys spending time off with family, traveling, working on her house and garden, and reading.

April Volunteer of the Month: Candi Kintzley

Mini wrangler, facilities helper, auction procurer and general all-around energetic assistant, describe SAFE’s April Volunteer of the Month Candi Kintzley.

Candi lives in North Bend with her husband Kerry, a sergeant with the Washington State Patrol, and their four dogs. The couple have identical 21-year-old twin sons.

“I have always had a love for horses since the first time my aunt Jackie put me on the back of her horse Luke when I was only two,” Candi says. “I used to have a Saddlebred and rode saddle seat in the Southwest Circuit in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.  When we moved back here, we couldn’t bring my horse and I missed it terribly.”

Candi first got involved with SAFE alongside her aunt and joined up as a regular volunteer about a year ago. “At SAFE, I am a part of the auction procurement team, the facilities team, I help record at the auction and I am co-mini wrangler with Jackie for all of Sunny D and Shasta’s outreach visits. I fill in on chores and was the official pooper-scooper for the Joel Conner Clinic. I am a ‘get ‘er done’ kind of gal. Give me a project, assign me a task and I will make sure it gets done. I am so excited to be tackling the greenhouse, aka ‘Jeanne’s Place’ so Jeanne, SAFE’s facilities manager, can have it for her facilities headquarters.”

Candi says she is in awe of SAFE, “the dedication of its volunteers, the compassion, success stories and overall commitment to making life better for the horses that have suffered such injustice. An added bonus is that I get to spend more time with my BFF/Aunt Jackie! We are the ‘can do’ team.”

When not volunteering at SAFE, Candi is a photographer, specializing in real estate photography, and runs her own marketing company.

March Volunteer of the Month: Caryn Littler

For volunteering tirelessly through thick and thin, for the many unsolicited hours contributed to SAFE, and in recognition of her indefatigable good attitude, Caryn Littler is SAFE’s Volunteer of the Month for March.

A native of Rochester, New York who now lives in Seattle, Caryn has been riding pretty much since she could stand up. “I’ve been riding in backyards and at riding stables ever since, much to my parents’ amusement,” she says. She now rides a 13-hand welsh pony named Cricket, “learning to be a tiny eventing team.”

Caryn says she has always been around horses and volunteered at a rescue in New York for a brief time. When she first came to Seattle, she thought about volunteering to help horses and to meet new people. People she talked to had heard about SAFE from some of the rescues in Pierce County and were impressed with everyone’s professionalism, “so I knew this would be a great fit.”

Asked what she likes most about volunteering with SAFE, Caryn says, “I like that I get to learn something new, whether that’s watching Terry work with the horses, horse care, or facilities work around the farm.”

Phoenix is one of Caryn’s favorite rescue stories. “I wasn’t here when he was at SAFE the first time, or when he was found and brought back, but he was one of the first horses to greet me when I first started,” she says. “I didn’t think this horse, who thought he was a puppy, would ever get adopted: he had so many quirks, as lovable as he is. When Terry told me he had found his forever home, I was shocked! Now, I get to see pictures of him relaxing in a pasture and even roping cattle. I’m so happy he found a mom and dad who love him just as much as our volunteers and barn visitors do.”

When not helping at SAFE, Caryn likes to go exploring. “I’m not from the Pacific Northwest so when I’m not riding or volunteering, I drive to strangely-named places or go on day hikes to soak in views from our beautiful section of the world. And I’m always looking for suggestions.”

February Volunteer of the Month — Casey A!!

Congratulations to Casey A. who has been named Volunteer of the Month for February in recognition of her stellar ground work and riding. “Casey is tireless, has a great attitude, is a star stall cleaner and communicates well with our ponies,” said SAFE Volunteer Manager Jane Millar. Trainer Joel Conner also praised the thoroughness of Casey’s prep work that sent Stevie to training with a great foundation for riding.

Casey started riding when she was eight at a small hunter/jumper barn in upstate New York. “I was hooked immediately,” she says, “and started spending every spare minute around horses, doing chores in exchange for lessons and board. Lady Louise, my first horse, was a small chestnut Arab with a flaxen mane and tail who, I like to think, chose me as much as I chose her. Affectionately known as Her Mareness, Lady taught me the value of elbow grease, gumption and quality. At nearly 30, she is now happily retired and well-loved by my mom, Sandy, in New York.

“Horses had become an indelible part of my life, so when I moved to the Seattle area in 2012, I was feeling the void. In the spring of 2013, I serendipitously found SAFE and started volunteering on a Tuesday night chore shift. Shortly after, I joined the riding and training program. Being a part of the SAFE community has felt like a gift. I have learned so much since joining the team, and I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded and strong horse people.”

Casey says she can’t choose a favorite SAFE horse, and is struck by how resilient and forgiving they are with kindness and consistency. “Right now, Stella, Stevie, and Jewel are keeping me on my toes,” she says. “They are each remarkably different, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from them.”

SAFE is fortunate to have volunteers like Casey A., who work so hard to keep our horses healthy and on the path to finding their forever homes.

January Volunteer of the Month: Dave Shepherdson

Dave Shepherdson of Kenmore is SAFE’s January Volunteer of the Month in recognition of his willingness to serve tirelessly on multiple chore shifts and with the Facilities crew.

Dave came to SAFE initially because he wanted to spend time with his wife Colleen, who was volunteering on Friday evenings. He asked if he could come and help and soon became a regular. But even before signing on as a regular shift volunteer, Dave was instrumental in building new fencing and shelters for our horses.

Colleen Shepherdson and their daughter Bianca owned horses and a “cheeky” pony in their native South Africa. Dave says the pony would jump a five-foot railing to get into dog food stored in the garage. The family immigrated to Minnesota in 2001 and later moved to Kenmore. They became U.S. citizens in 2012.

Dave has enjoyed getting to be around horses for the first time and getting to know most of them. “They are really cool animals and, treated right, are like big puppies. I now can sense if they want to be left alone or would like a scratch.”

Asked if he has a favorite, he says, “I guess it is a reciprocal relationship. I really like Emmy and she likes me, so we tend to have lots of interaction when mucking out her stall.”

When not helping out at SAFE, Dave enjoys going to the gym and practicing 3D Archery.

SAFE is an amazing haven for horses because of people like Dave. Thank you, Dave!

December Volunteer of the Month: Megan Wilson

Megan with her mom and her mom’s horse, Atlanta

December’s Volunteer of the Month, Megan Wilson,started volunteering at SAFE in 2013 and now leads the Saturday morning chores team. Megan was nominated for this recognition by her peers and is admired for her upbeat, positive attitude that embodies the spirit of volunteerism.

Originally from Virginia, Megan and her husband Carlton (who also fills in at SAFE when needed) now call West Seattle home. She grew up riding horses and competed in hunter/jumpers and eventing during high school and college. She also volunteered with a therapeutic riding program while a college student.

Megan was looking for a way to get involved with horses after settling in Seattle when she came across the SAFE website. “SAFE has become such a special part of my life,” she says. “I feel so lucky to be part of such a dedicated, wonderful, supportive, caring group of volunteers!”

Since losing her mare Julep to colic last year, Megan is part-leasing a mare from a good friend. She enjoys the SAFE horses, and while she doesn’t admit to a favorite, she likes working with Cameo because “she challenges me to be better. She’s so sweet, but also sensitive, and even just hand-walking her is an opportunity for me to improve my communication with her. I can’t wait for her to find her forever home so she can really bond with her person.”

Megan is a family medicine physician at the UW Family Medicine residency program. “When I’m not working or at a barn, I’m usually hanging out with my wonderful and very supportive husband.”

2016 Volunteer of the Year: Caren McMillen

Choosing just one SAFE volunteer to be named Volunteer of the Year is never an easy task, but when someone like Caren McMillen is part of your family, the choice becomes utterly obvious. Caren has been with SAFE as a volunteer for almost three years, but there are times when it feels like she has always been part of this organization. She brings so much heart to everything she does here at Safe Harbor, and she always seems to find a reason to chuckle, no matter what. Knowing that Caren is on site means never having to worry about a thing and if ever there is a problem that needs solving, she is usually front and center making sure it gets done. She is a dear friend to so many of us, and the horses love her too. So choosing Caren as our Volunteer of the Year was very easy, as she absolutely beyond a doubt was our Most Valuable Player in 2016. We can’t even begin to speculate what we’d’ve done without her in 2017!!!!

In addition to her role as shift lead on Monday mornings at the barn, Caren routinely jumps in to help when a chore crew comes up short, and is nearly a daily presence at SAFE to help wherever needed. She operates as a right hand to Facilities Manager Jeanne Stine, helping to wire electric fences, hang gates, haul manure, build a Noble shelter or install hay racks. Barn managers Lori and Lisa call her “a great assistant.”

Caren joined SAFE’s Monday morning chores team in April 2014, a couple of weeks after she retired from her job as a graphic designer for CBRE. “A dear friend had read an article mentioning SAFE as one of the top volunteer organizations in the area,” she says, “and thought it might be a good fit for me. Bingo!”

She says it had been quite awhile since she had mucked out a stall, let alone five or six. “After a time, I wanted to know more about the group, so I signed up for a few committees (facilities, marketing and alumni). Expanding into these other areas has given me the opportunity to get a much broader picture of what’s involved in running such a complex organization.”

Friendships grew and developed, sharing the common bond of the love for the horses. “Friendships that have been, are, and will continue to be, very special to me,” she adds. “My favorite horse? Why, Stevie, of course! But, there was/is also Phoenix, Ben, Prince and King. I ride an iron horse now which, quite frankly, seems to be the safer choice!”

Caren is a tremendous SAFE volunteer in many capacities, not only physical. Her graphic design talent is evident in some of SAFE’s marketing materials and certificates. She’s a delightful force around the barn, always sporting a friendly, upbeat attitude. SAFE has benefited greatly from Caren’s time and energy.

November Volunteers of the Month: Ian and Bran Lefae

SAFE Names Ian and Bran Lefae as November Volunteers of the Month

9Ian and Bran Lefae jumped right in to the Save A Forgotten Equine family this year and immediately started showing their willingness to work hard and play hard. They not only took on training Shasta and Sunny D, but also turn out to help at special events and work parties. With thanks for all that they do and for sharing their passion for learning and teaching new things, SAFE honors Ian and Bran as Volunteers of the Month for November.

A Seattle native, Ian discovered SAFE when he left a stressful job and decided it was time to get back in touch with horses. Bran, having lived in upstate New York and Minnesota before moving to Seattle, joined Ian to work with the minis because she loves and is a champion for tiny things. The couple now lives in Mountlake Terrace.

“We both really love the SAFE community,” Bran says. “Ian loves all the sweet horses and working with the excellent horsemen and women he has met when volunteering there. I enjoy learning about natural horsemanship and spending time around all of the horses, especially the minis,” she continues.

While both have special affection for Shasta and Sunny D, Ian says he loves Bridgit because she’s playful, intelligent and loving, while Bran likes Stella because of her funny “sniff the hand – no, don’t touch me” game.

When not horsing around at SAFE, Ian is an artist and Bran is a medical writer for Seattle Genetics, a cancer research company.