Volunteers of the Month

SAFE is incredibly fortunate to have such amazing volunteers. Each month, we select two exceptional volunteers to honor as our Volunteers of the Month. We ask them to share their stories, including why they decided to start volunteering at SAFE and who their favorite SAFE horses are. It’s a unique insight into what its like to volunteer here. Click here if you’d like to learn more about our volunteer program.

Special Volunteer Recognition: The Meisners

Gerry & Robbie, photo by Kristina Oden.

Gerry and Robbie Meisner retired to Roy, WA, after a lifetime in academia in Tennessee. Having learned everything they needed to know about horses at a wonderful rescue called Horse Haven Equine, and feeling grateful for the opportunity to rescue their horses: CeCe and Tacoma, they felt the need to give back to the community which had given them so much. In October of 2014 they set out to find a rescue where they could donate their time. For almost 6 years, this amiable couple has been driving up from Roy every other weekend to do barn chores at our farm, even though they have their own place to tend. Not only have Gerry and Robbie been an integral part of our Sunday chores team, they have helped at every horse show, and done data entry for us behind the scenes. Gerry and Robbie help us with adoption and alumni site checks down in their area as well. They are part of our SAFE family and we have relied on them for years. We are so grateful for all they bring to SAFE. 2020 is a new level of retirement for Gerry and Robbie and they will be staying down south to focus on their farm. I am happy to report they will still be helping with the show and plan to come up for a work party or two throughout the year. Thank you, Gerry and Robbie, for your many years of kind and compassionate service. We will miss you on the Sunday crew, but we wish you well as you enjoy your farm and critters.. Give CeCe and Tacoma a pat for us!

January Volunteer of the Month: Mariah Lester

Mariah and Teddi, Photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I was raised mostly by my grandparents, in Oklahoma, for the beginning part of my childhood. My Grandpa loved horses, and imparted this love of them onto me. One of the ways he did this was taking me to a local Clydesdale barn to greet and feed the Clydesdales. I remember cupping mints in my tiny hands, reaching up as FAR as I could to meet the Clydesdales. They’d reach their big, gentle heads down to accept the mint with big, soft muzzles that were completely oversized for my little child hands. As a result, draft horses hold a particularly special place in my heart. On that note, I would like to give a special shout out to Mr. Slim Pickens, a Belgian gelding who no longer resides on-site at SAFE but is currently in SAFE’s foster program. I hadn’t seen draft horses in a long time, so Mr. Slim was truly a refreshing sight; and had me feeling a kid again as he reminded me of the lovable, gentle giants draft horses are.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? It’s so difficult to answer that question! I’d definitely say the horses first and foremost, I’ll always consider them the first and primary loves of my life. Just as well: I have several mental health problems, some of them crippling, but none of them unable to be quelled by even a short time spent at SAFE. But this isn’t just due to the horses; I also enjoy the camaraderie, the community and mission our rescue is built upon. I also love my PM Chore shift team (Not to brag but Sam is the best chore lead ever) we have our duties down to a science, practically. But amidst our work, amidst the mud, physical exhaustion and manure, we have so many laughs and delightful conversation. We aren’t just team mates, we’re also friends. Also a special shoutout to my fellow chore shift volunteer Vicki, who often carpools me after our shifts.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? Oh dear, I love them all.  But if I had to pick out one horse: It would be Ms. Teddi, or “Teddi Bear” as I call her. I was relatively recently given the honor of grooming most of SAFE’s companion horses. Ms. Teddi is a charm to work with, and while she has a few spooky bones in her body; you will never find a mean one. I often think to myself that she would make a sublime therapy horse, as her achy leg prevents her from being ridden, but she has a heart that is pure as a lamb and has an almost motherly bearing and patience. Not to mention she is AMAZING at picking up her feet! I recall when I first volunteered to groom, I was worried my vertigo problems would render me incapable of picking horses’ feet. This was mostly due to my many experiences in the past of horses practically cementing their feet to the ground when I attempt to pick them. Not so with Ms. Teddi: Sometimes, she already readies her leg to be lifted, and will actually meet your hand to get her feet picked. Noted, sometimes on days her leg is particularly achy: She’s unwilling to allow her front feet to be picked. Not wanting to bear weight on her leg. Every time I groom her, I take pictures of her before and after grooming. Then post them on Facebook with the hashtag #TuesdayTeddi or #ThursdayTeddi.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I’m an artist by hobby, I’ve been drawing almost continuously for 15 years. I sometimes take commissions, though I’ve yet to make any real profit from that. I do sometimes do gift art—examples being the chibi versions of our adopted horses, that I make for their new humans. My more advanced pieces are generally fan art–lately, Misha Collins and Castiel fanart—that take weeks and sometimes up to months to complete. Longer still to make are my cards, that I make every year for my beloved boyfriend of nearly 10 years: Nick. Honing my skill as an artist is a challenge I relish, but hope never to complete, as I love finding new and inventive ways to improve in my craft. I’m also a published journalist; as writing is another creative hobby I enjoy. Outside of this, I also take GED courses and Highschool 21+ at Hopelink, hoping to gain the diploma I was unable to when my mental health took a turn for the worse, several years ago.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? Of course! This would barely be possible without the love and support of my dad and stepmom: Christopher and Susan Lester. In fact it was Susan who informed me that SAFE, who I’d been following for years prior, had moved to an area accessible to me. I’d also like to give a shout out to my boyfriend, mentioned above, who, despite his fear of horses, has supported me and encouraged me as any proper significant other would—even complimenting the photos of freshly groomed “clients” of mine. There’s also a fellow volunteer, Sarah, who has never failed to step up to the plate both as a comrade and a friend to help me in my work. There’s also my therapist, Virginia, who always asks about and enjoys my stories about SAFE in our sessions. I daresay SAFE has made her job easier!

Mariah’s horse-loving Grandpa, Jack, passed away this month, just before we shot her VOM photos.  She shared with us, “…my Grandpa died knowing his granddaughter was top volunteer at a rescue of the creatures he held so dearly. With a lock of Ms. Teddi’s tail as testament to the mission I carry on in his absence.” Mariah, you do your Grandpa proud. Thank you for all you do.

Photo by Sundee Rickey

December Volunteer of the Month: Wendy Kettering

Congratulations to SAFE’s Volunteer of the Month for December, Thursday AM Chores Team Player, Wendy Kettering!

Wendy and Butterscotch, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I was the usual horse-crazy young girl. When I was in junior high I painted the entire exterior of our house as payment to purchase a horse that resided in the neighbors pasture next door. It was actually a big job, and I finished the whole house all except a small wall. Once the horse was purchased, their labor pool of one vanished. Parents, be mindful that child labor can be a little flakey! I rode with no instruction or mentors; we just hopped on and headed out through nearby open space, forest, and neighborhoods.

Very I recently brought a new horse into my life. She is a 15 year old half Quarter Horse and half Arab buckskin mare. We are getting to know each other and I look forward to hitting the trails with her.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I wish I had “found” SAFE about ten years ago! I enjoy being around the horses, and learning by observation how SAFE staff cares for and readies the horses for adoption. I also like to be outside, and my Thursday morning shift gives me a reason to get outside regardless of the weather! However, my favorite aspect is the Thursday AM team members. They make schlepping poop (among other things) a joy, not a job!

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? I don’t really have a “favorite”! I was very fond of Gunner when he was with SAFE. A little cliché but I like them all. I do appreciate the various personalities of the SAFE horses, and seeing their transformations to curious and more calm such a short period of time after arriving at SAFE. Remarkable.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? We have four rescue dogs, and I have volunteered in dog rescue for nearly 13 years. Which is how you end up with 4 dogs! The dogs are 16, 13, 8 and 6 years old. All came from less than ideal situations and have their own unique quirks. Which really means, not all of our friends and neighbors love our dogs as much as we do! We recently began building a home on the Key Peninsula in Pierce County, and will eventually move there. It’s an area where we have family, and have had a small cabin since the 80’s. It is quite rural, so it will be a big change from the greater Seattle area. So that little project is beginning to take up more and more time.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work? My husband Mark has encouraged and supported my all-things-animal interests. He has tolerated being bitten (badly!) by foster dogs, and encouraged me to volunteer at SAFE because “you love horses, and you’re not getting any younger.” This fall we took a trip to Africa. It took me 3 years to convince him it would be an amazing experience. He finally acquiesced and now says it’s probably the best trip we have ever taken.

November Volunteers of the Month: Hillary Dixon and Warren Nolder

Teddi and Hillary. Photo by Sundee Rickey

Hillary Dixon, past shift lead, current groom, and Bingo caller extraordinaire!

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about?  My first time I was involved with horses was when I was four years old and had my first pony ride at the Woodland Park Zoo.  It was all down hill from there.  I signed up for the 4H club at the Woodland Park Zoo on my tenth birthday, but couldn’t start until I was twelve years old.  I worked at the zoo for three years and learned everything about horses.  During my childhood, I went to horse camps as well.  When I graduated high school, I worked at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop during the summer, helping run the ranch of 45 horses and taking tourists on horseback rides.  Those three months were the best time of my life.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?  I like the peace I feel being around the horses.  It’s been so fulfilling to me and I needed that kind of healing in my life, along with the horses who need healing as well.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why?  Emmy was my first favorite when I started, then Slim, then Moon.  They were all kind.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us?  I play pool, camp or just get out into nature, be with great family and friends, and of course work too much to pay the bills.

Warren Nolder, Thursday AM rock star, facilities powerhouse, and best neighbor ever!

Renee and Warren. Photo by Sundee Rickey.

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I began working with SAFE last year in March, with absolutely no prior horse experience. Having lived next to the horse facility (that SAFE moved into) for years, I noticed a sudden increase in activity: fences being mended, massive weeding and mowing taking place, things getting pressure washed, new gravel getting laid out, painting happening all over, and old and discarded piles of junk being sorted out and dealt with. I would peak over periodically to check on the progress at the stables and one day, met Jeanne Stine who introduced herself, the SAFE organization, and their goals for the property. We talked off and on for the next few months, and it was always a positive and uplifting conversation regarding the horses and work efforts. I was continuously amazed at the number of people showing up to help out and the amount of work being done. At some point, I just felt the need to be part of that effort, and started volunteering soon after. The commute has been very pleasurable and the work has been very rewarding 😊

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? There are many things which stand out regarding what makes SAFE such a great place to volunteer for. The people involved with SAFE (volunteers, leads, etc.) have a genuine interest in the well-being of all the horses that come here. And that shows in their work as well as their words. The horses are fantastic, but not in the way most people think about horses. Every horse here has a story, many of which are very sad to hear. But the resilience of these animals is amazing to watch, and they each have something to teach us and share. The hands-on experience that can be gained as a volunteer is crazy good.  Want to learn how to mend a fence? Boom, here is an opportunity. Want to help feed horses? We got that multiple times a day. Want to train horses? Tons of possibilities there as well. Every day I work at SAFE, I walk away feeling like I’ve actually helped move this effort forward, no matter how small or insignificant the task might seem that I completed. Thank you SAFE for this great opportunity.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? When I first started I had favorites. Stormy was my very first favorite. She is blind, but was taught voice commands so she could navigate uneven ground. She was the first horse I ever led out to pasture and was incredibly gentle. People would say,” Stormy will be here the rest of her life.” But miraculously, she found a great home. And that’s kind of how it is around here. Horse miracles are constantly happening. Now I focus less on ‘favorites’ and more on seeing what is unique and special about each horse and what we can learn from each other.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I’m retired now, but always seem to have very full, action packed days.  Besides volunteering at SAFE, I maintain our acre lot, actively ride bikes to keep in shape (for working at SAFE), camp, hike and backpack with my kids, take German language classes, attend occasional dance courses with my wife Kerstin, do weekly wine tasting, and spend long vacations in Germany where half of our family is from.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? Kerstin and our kids and our friends are very supportive of the volunteer work I do at SAFE.  They are always enthralled by the latest horse news and adventures.

October Volunteers of the Month: Alissa Ralston and Beth Erkel

Alissa and Sinatra, photo by Sundee Rickey

We are so fortunate to have outstanding volunteers. In fact, it makes for a difficult choice every month when we pick two volunteers to spotlight. This month we would like to highlight two barn chore volunteers who rock our world with their sweet natures, work ethic, and dependability. Thank you, Alissa and Beth, for all of your hard work and dedication to the horses and people of SAFE. Congratulations on being named October Volunteers of the month!

Alissa Ralston, Tuesday AM Shift Lead Super Star

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I have always loved horses and started taking riding lessons at around 10 years old. I found SAFE when I moved to Washington and started volunteering May of last year. I have one very handsome quarter horse named Bonc that lives on my family’s farm in Arkansas with his favorite horse friend Friday.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I love being around the amazing people and horses of SAFE and making a difference in all of the horses lives.  I love seeing them get adopted and find their forever homes!
Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? It is really hard to pick a favorite horse, they all have such unique personalities! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Sinatra. He is super sweet and very playful.

 

Beth Erkel, Sunday PM Rock Star

Beth and Valor, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I have been in love with horses since I was 5 years old!  Most people ask “are you a dog person or a cat person”  My answer was always and is always “I’m a horse person!”  My whole world revolved around horses.  Every picture I drew, every movie I watched, every time I went out to play, all revolved around horses.  I even made my Barbies ride horses. (Their legs didn’t like it, but I made them do it anyway!)  Lol!  I started with a Shetland Pony when I was 9.  Her name was Sugar.  I was fortunate enough to get my own horse when I was 10.  His name was Lucky.  Three years later I brought home a 5 year old Quarter horse mare named Sunshine.  I had horses for 20 years.  Those were the very best of memories!
What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I LOVE volunteering for SAFE for so many reasons, but the two most important reasons are #1… being with the horses. (They need so much special love) … and #2… bonding with the other volunteers! They are such wonderful people and they have become such great inspirations in my life!  (The whole SAFE experience has been such a positive influence for me.)
Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? I LOVE all of the horses at SAFE.  Seriously!  They are all very special in their own way.  I would gladly welcome any of the SAFE horses into my life if I had the resources to do so.  I have a special soft spot in my heart for those horses that are a bit needy such as Angel and Cyrus.  Also the more challenging, in a good way such as Piper, Fancy, Mina and Luna.
What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? When not horsing around at SAFE, I spend time with my husband of 32 years, our two married adult daughters (and their husbands)… and our 3 grandchildren!  (I also get out with my three besties of 41 years to do fun stuff like going to Dude Ranches, going to the Ocean, hitting the snow or the beaches, Etc…)  I am very blessed!
Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? I have a lot of people who support my volunteer work at SAFE.  My girls always ask “How are the horses?”  My coworkers ask on Monday mornings, “Did you go to the horses this weekend?”…  My mom (who is 82 years old and is struggling with Dementia), still remembers my love of horses and all the years that I spent with them, and is so happy and proud of me for pursuing my passion for horses by volunteering for SAFE! I will have my own horse again in the future… but for now, I have so much more!  I have SAFE !  ❤

September Volunteers of the Month: Ginni Guest and Sarah Vecchi

This summer we have been so fortunate to have the inspiring support of two special volunteers. These women bring a smile to the farm every day they are here (and let me tell you, it is more than once a week). They spread sunshine and love to all of the humans and horses of SAFE. I’m talking about Ginni Guest and Sarah Vecchi.

Ginni not only works a chore shift, but she keeps our garden and landscaping looking like like we have a master gardner on staff (we basically do with Ginni around). Ginni helps with events like the SAFE Benefit Horse Show, where she thoroughly enjoyed working the main ring and handing out ribbons to our winning competitors. Ginni happily greets guests when they arrive at our Open House events, and is always happy to make her barn mates a cup of coffee and enjoy a chat after a long shift.

 

Sarah has been a powerhouse for SAFE this summer, helping on chores, facilities, with the Fall City Forty, and basically picking up any slack she sees. Sarah is new to SAFE this year, and she didn’t waste any time getting to know what we do and how she could help. She does it all with a kindness and openness that makes others feel welcome. Sarah and Ginni, SAFE would not be the beautiful, welcoming place it is for horses and people without you. Thank you for all you do and congratulations on being named September 2019 volunteers of the Month!

More about Ginni:  How & when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about?

Valor & Ginni, photo by Sundee Rickey

I have always loved horses. In fact, my mother swears that my first word was “horsey”. When I was about 4 years old I asked my mother what Hirohito’s (Emperor of Japan during WW2) phone number was. She asked me why I wanted it and I told her that I wanted to call and ask if he would sell his big wh

ite horse to me! I do not have a horse now but I have had a few horses that have a place in my heart. After I retired I looked for someplace that had horses and volunteers. I contacted SAFE as soon as I heard about their story and here I am!

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? What I like about SAFE is that I can be around horses and help do what I can to help them to feel loved, happy, safe and to bring them back to health.  I just like to walk through the barn and greet each one of them and talk with them for a little while. It makes my heart sing with their strong spirit. The last few years of my life have been very difficult but SAFE has helped me have a Happy Heart again!

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? I love ALL of them as they each have their own personalities. I love to watch Anderson since I saw a picture that Jessica took with his mane, forelock and tail flying, he had a part of my heart.  However, dear sweet Mina is so loving and she likes to be petted and talked to and she was such a good Mommy! Truly, I just love them all.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I am a Watercolor and Acrylic artist and the last 13 years I have belonged to a group of professional artists that meet every Tuesday and paint together. Plus, I belong to Seattle Co Arts which has been in existence for 60+ years.  I also love to garden as most of you know by now.  My front yard is ALL flowers – no lawn so naturally I couldn’t help myself to start working on the SAFE flower beds.

Do you have family or special people in your life who supports your volunteer work that you would want us to mention? My whole family is thrilled that I found SAFE. My youngest son Pat and his family have attended our Open Houses and our Christmas one.  They all think SAFE is an ”Amazing Place.”  Pat helped on our yearly big clean (work party) by helping me bring a truck load of compost for our garden and he spread it all amongst the shrubs and flowers. I thanked him for the help and he told me that he knew how much SAFE means to me so he was more than happy to help and to donate it.

Sarah and Cyrus, photo by Sundee Rickey

More about Sarah:  How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I started riding when I was six, and grew up doing 4-H, taking lessons, volunteering at a therapeutic riding stable, working at various barns, and had my own pony and then horse before high school. I don’t have my own horse at the moment, but I’m hoping to adopt some time in the next year, once I’ve paid off my grad school loans (and the right horse comes along). For now, I’m taking lessons with a semi-retired event horse named Arnie, and love spending time at SAFE, learning to become a better horsewoman.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? THE PEOPLE. For years when we lived elsewhere, I was desperate for horsey friends and now I am surrounded by this amazing community of like-minded, hilarious, caring, interesting, and fun folks who’ve became some of my absolute favorite people in a relatively short amount of time. 

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? My favorite is Cyrus. I’m a sucker for tall, sweet geldings, so it’s a no-brainer. I’ve really loved watching him blossom from a rack of bones who could only think about the hay in front of him to a stunning and lively gelding who’s so curious about the world. I also love the goofy faces he makes when I’ve found the itchiest spot. 

Sarah and Cyrus, photo by Sundee Rickey

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I’m the school librarian at Louisa May Alcott Elementary School in Redmond where they actually PAY me to read books and hang out with kids all day (well, and do other stuff, too)! My husband, Jeremy, and I live with our cat, Munsef, in Bellevue. I love being outside, playing with dogs, getting laps in at the pool, and reading. 

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? Jeremy, my wonderful husband of 15 years, is not a horse person but he knows how happy it makes me to be with the horses and people at SAFE and is incredibly supportive. My parents are also non-horsey folks who nevertheless dragged me to lessons, the barn, etc and indulged my love of horses as much as they could.

August Volunteers of the Month: Allison Goldie and Maile Greenwell

Volunteers are the heart of our organization. Our mission would be nothing but lofty goals without the boots on the ground that make this mission a reality. We have two special volunteers to recognize this month. They are enthusiastic SAFE supporters, hard working barn chore volunteers, and the kind of people who make other people want to come back to SAFE. Allison and Maile give their free time to SAFE while juggling full time work and full lives. Thank you for all you do for SAFE and congratulations on being chosen August Volunteers of the Month!

Allison Goldie

photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? When I was a kid, my great-aunt had a small farm with a few horses in Sulfur, OK. I spent some summers there learning what it takes to have horses as a part of your family. After my great-aunt passed, I still wanted to be around horses so I went to various horse camps around Oklahoma. My family had always had animals, from dogs and cats to the random turtle, but when I moved from Oklahoma City to Seattle a few years ago, I couldn’t have any because my roommate/cousin is very allergic. I really missed being around animals so I started looking for places I could volunteer with animals too big for me to bring home. Before starting with SAFE, it had probably been about 10 years since I’d been around a horse but I’m so glad I found SAFE.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? As much as I love living in Seattle, I love being able to get out of the city and being around horses. I love the community that this has provided for me and the feeling of peace you can get when chores are done and it’s just you and the horses in the paddocks. I also work a high stress job so this is kind of like my “me” time where I can destress, get out of my head, and not have to worry about anything for a few hours.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? I don’t really have a favorite horse because, depending on the day, I may feel a connection to one horse one day and a different horse the next.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I do work a full time but when I’m not at work I like to go to the gym, garden, hang out with friends, and go see movies. I’m also an avid cross-stitcher, which ends up taking up a lot of my time.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? I just want to thank all of my friends and family that have encouraged and supported me with volunteering at SAFE.

Maile Greenwell

photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I first got started with horses when I was about 8 years old back in my home state of California and started taking lessons, then eventually owning my own horse Hollywood. My family bought me Hollywood when I was 11 years old and I’ve had him ever since. He currently lives back home in San Diego where he’s a therapy horse for children with special needs or wounded veterans. I miss him a lot but always stop by to see my good boy whenever I visit home.
What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I think what I like most about SAFE is seeing the “after effect” of what we do here. Seeing once maybe frightened or starved horses come back around and then go on to live very happy lives. I’m always so inspired by them and they’ve even helped me get my life together in a way. They help me see that even if we’ve been through some trauma in our lives, we can turn it around, that it almost always can be better again. 
Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? I think the big joke in my crew was “every horse is Maile’s favorite” but currently my favorite horse has to be Cyrus, with Moon and Cassidy not far behind him. Cyrus is special to me because of how much he just seems to enjoy life now. I remember once I finished grooming him in his grass pasture, then turning around and seeing him just romping around as happy as can be. Yet for how big he is and maybe a tad pushy at times, theres not an ounce of malice or mean spiritedness in him, he’ll lower his head for me to put his halter or fly mask on, fall asleep while brushing his mane, nickers to me when I walk by. He’s just a tall, dark, and handsome guy with a great personality.
What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? When not at the stable you can usually find me at work, or home snuggling my bird Bonzai. My fiancee Matt and I also really enjoy being outside on hikes, archery, or just exploring the town. I also really enjoy cooking and baking.
Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? Every now and again, when were especially short, Matt will come with me to the barn and help with chores. He’s always been extremely supportive of my volunteer work and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him.

July Volunteers of the Month: Chase Wilson and Marcy Kubbs

Cue the fireworks!! Blast the trumpets! We have two amazingly dedicated volunteers to celebrate! People like Chase Wilson and Marcy Kubbs make SAFE’s mission possible. These steadfast volunteers provide service on chore shifts, at events, and go above and beyond for SAFE. We could not do this without them. Chase’s Shift Lead, Sam, relates that Chase is a reliable hard worker, good with the horses, and helps train other volunteers. Volunteers helping volunteers is one of the things that makes SAFE a special place. Marcy is another one of those people who makes SAFE special for volunteers. She is warm and friendly, endlessly patient, and happy to guide new people on her shift. Chase and Marcy have interesting stories about how they came to be SAFE Volunteers and what they enjoy about their time with us. You can read about them below. Congratulations on being named July 2019 Volunteers of the Month, Chase & Marcy. And thank you for all you do!

Chase Wilson: Saturday PM Chore Volunteer, Kind-hearted Hard Worker

Chase & Amelia, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I knew nothing about horses prior to volunteering at SAFE. When I moved to Redmond from San Francisco I knew I wanted to volunteer with either kids or animals, and being from a large city, it was crazy to me that there were horses in the same city that I lived in, so I had to give it a try.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?  The relationships. I’ve made a lot of friends from volunteering, and I knew no one when I moved here. I also just enjoy the fact that it gets me away from TV/computer screens and outside on a regular basis.
Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why?  I’ve had a lot of favorite horses, and they all seem to get adopted right away. I like horses that enjoy being around humans. I think Amelia is a real sweetheart, she’s easy to lead, and I love her coloring.
What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? For work, I’m a software engineer for Amazon, so naturally I do a lot of other geeky things that come with that. I regularly play board games with a group of friends, as well as video games and spend way too much time watching YouTube. (which is why its great to volunteer with SAFE to get me outside!). I also have a bunch of random hobbies I’ve picked up, like photography, watch collecting, carpentry, and lock picking (nothing nefarious).
Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up?  I volunteer Saturday PM shifts, which is also a prime date night, so I’d like to thank my long-term girlfriend, Lily, for working around my weird schedule for all this time.
Marcy Kubbs: Sunday PM Chore Shift Volunteer, Shift Lead, Friendly Helper

Marcy & Valor, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first got involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about?  My first memory of horses is as a young child being thrown up on a farm horse that promptly took off with me.  Fortunately, someone told me about hanging on to the mane! Later as a teen I was fortunate enough to start riding lessons which continued off and on since then. I am considering getting a horse, but in the meantime am enjoying my lessons on Silhouette, a lovely TB / Andalusian cross.

What do you like about volunteering with SAFE? Several things, but especially the community of people committed to improving the lives of horses and the horses themselves who have taught me much.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? Yes, but this is a hard question as it varies from week to week!  I suppose Cameo who was one of the first horses I met when I started volunteering at SAFE.  She is of course beautiful but more than that, I love her sensitivity – when she is “with you”, you know it.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I have recently retired, so besides enjoying sleeping in, I am spending more time in my garden and at the gym. I also play music, and am in a band that plays for contra dances around the Northwest. This month I am headed to fiddle camp which should be fun!

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? I would just like to say a special thank you to all my friends and family who patiently listen as I excitedly tell them about my horse adventures.

June Volunteers of the Month: Beck Wren and Monique Goodrich

Superstars in the outside world often lead flashy lives and are immediately identified by their flair or outspokenness. At our barn, being a superstar is a more modest gig. SAFE superstars are here every week, rain or shine. They blend in to the rhythm of life here, doing chores with a smile and not calling attention to themselves. This is why we try to shine the spotlight on our dedicated volunteers and thank them regularly. Beck Wren and Monique Goodrich are two of our chore shift superstars. We thank them for all they do for SAFE and congratulate them on being chosen as the June Volunteers of the Month for 2019!

Beck Wren

Where are you from? Where do you call home now? I was born in Wasilla, Alaska, and grew up in Federal Way, Washington. I moved to Seattle proper for college in 2003 and have been here ever since.

How and when did you first get involved with horses? “Horse” was my very first word. When I was four years old, my mother thought that a summer of riding lessons would cure me of the horse-kid bug. Horses were large, scary animals, she reasoned, and surely, I, too, would realize that if I just spent a little more time around them. That plan backfired spectacularly. I rode dressage growing up and started learning to jump after college. Going forward, I am most interested in eventing. I am not interested in showing or competitive riding, just going out and having fun with my horse.

Do you currently have a horse? I am currently “between horses.” I had to put down my last horse, Mikey, due to a degenerative spinal defect. He was only four years old. It was a sad situation, and it took a few years of healing until I was ready to be with horses again. I am pretty sure my next horse will be a SAFE horse, but the right one hasn’t come along quite yet.

How did you find SAFE? I found SAFE in 2008, when I was looking for a horse to purchase. Although none of the SAFE horses at that time were right for me, I was impressed with SAFE’s commitment to rehabilitation and training–which has only deepened since then. In 2017, when I felt ready to get involved with horses again, I immediately thought of SAFE. I began volunteering shortly after SAFE moved to Redmond; I don’t drive a car, and riding my bike up the hill to the old Woodinville location was too brutal!

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I love too much about volunteering to pick just one thing! I live in the heart of the city. My time at the barn every week gives me a connection to the rhythms of the natural world. I love watching the horses rebuild their trust in humans. I love the dedication of my fellow volunteers; we all work hard for the horses.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? My favorite SAFE horse was Nashville. I am so happy she has found her forever home, but I miss her already.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I am a writer, and a big science fiction/fantasy nerd. I also knit and am learning to play mandolin.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work? My partners, Jonathan and Natalie, are both very supportive. They never complain when I show up late to events after my chores shift, smelling vaguely of horse.

Monique Goodrich

“Hi, my name is Monique Goodrich and I live in Kirkland. I’ve been a massage therapist since 1993 and I love my job. It keeps me out of trouble. Before SAFE, I’d been feeling like something was missing. One day I was in PCC and saw the volunteer notice for SAFE on their bulletin board. Now, over a year and a half of SAFE volunteering later, I know what I missed: the smell of horse poop! Horse poop brings me a feeling of home. Horses started early in my life and it was the main connection to my mom. My mom is also named Monique, she was born and raised in Morocco. She was short, spoke with a French accent, cursed like a merchant marine, and would come after you like a Bantam hen. When I was younger we lived in Tucson, and my mother started a long friendship with Gerry and Ronald Searles, brothers and owners of a cattle ranch. Our life was full as the years and horses flowed by. We went on cattle drives, group rides, and we showed horses. My favorite memory is riding is side-by-side with mom. I remember loping long desert roads, the sun setting as the warm sage air whipped our hair.

“My first horse was a Mexican hat mustang with beautiful blue eyes. My next horse was Peanut, a palomino Arabian, one of the stinkers that my mom raised and trained for riding. Marta reminds me of him with that little jig when you take her out. Try riding that for a couple of hours!

“My mom passed in 2011 from cancer. She was diagnosed one minute and gone two months later. Having to give away her two last horses broke her heart. Believe it or not, the second day she was in hospice there happened to be a couple with a therapy horse and pony who visited her. She got to say her last goodbye to horses after all. Only in Tucson.

“I love all the horses at SAFE, I love the work and people, if they can stick around. Soon I hope to retire from massage and work some other days at SAFE. I want to know the horses better than a couple of minutes on turn out, but for now the smell of horse poop is good enough for me.”

Skye, Monique’s co-lead on Monday nights, had this to say about her being chosen as a June Volunteer of the Month: “Yay Monique!! She totally deserves it. She’s only missed one day in her almost two years of volunteering. Plus she is such a fun, positive person and a great co-lead.”

May Volunteers of the Month: Scott Bailey and André Cabrera

Scott and Justin, photo by Sundee Rickey

Scott Bailey, Horsemanship volunteer and more!

Scott Bailey can be in jeans saddling up his favorite horse Justin one day, and waltz into the Heart of the Horse auction looking dapper in a suit the next. Scott mainly works horses in the Horsemanship program now, but he started on a chore shift and has spent plenty of time cleaning stalls. In addition, he is always eager to pitch in and help when we need him, from running errands for the auction committee to shoveling snow. Since August of 2017, Scott has been wowing us with his commitment.

Our Operations Director, Terry Phelps eloquently sums up the many reasons we have chosen Scott Bailey as a May Volunteer of the Month:

“Scott’s commitment and passion for helping the SAFE horses in all aspects of their rehabilitation and training has been invaluable. He cares deeply about the horse’s wellbeing and finding clear ways to communicate with them. Scott has ended up working a few of our more troubled geldings and has done a remarkable job helping them become more gentle and prepared for adoption. Scott is always willing to lend a helping hand and on top of helping in our Horsemanship program, he often is found filling in on chores and facilities needs. I was very thankful for his help and height during the snow storm clean up, as he cleared snow, ice and debris from our roofs.”

Scott lives in Rainier Beach with his life partner, Stephanie Levine. Scott says he feels lucky that Stephanie not only supports his work with SAFE, but encourages it. Scott works in technology and loves the combination of skills he uses in his job. “My work is at the intersection of people and technology. I work with sales teams implementing best practices using systems and cloud software tools to improve sales processes. I’m delighted to be starting a brand-new role with Egencia, the corporate travel division of Expedia!”

Scott moved to Bellevue, WA from Washington DC when he was 13, and the move west led him to his first interactions with horses. “I think I was about 10 when I took my first riding lesson. A horse was all I ever wanted and asked for one constantly. When my parents moved to Bellevue, they bought an acre, built a house and barn and bought me a horse at 14. Our house bordered the trail system that led into Bridle Trails Park where I spent countless hours riding my Appaloosa-Arab. Being part Appaloosa, Washakie had been named after a great Nez Perce Indian chief. He was a wonderful horse for me, especially being in my backyard. He would whinny to me when I came home from school. He would kick his barn door madly on weekends when I was trying to sleep in and was upset that I hadn’t fed him yet. He loved to flip the light switch on and off that was installed to closely to his stall door and would get me in trouble for failing to turn out the lights when I came up to the house from the barn each evening. Sadly, I had to sell him when I went off to college at 18.”

As an adult, Scott was searching for a place where he could get involved with horses again and also give back. He was referred to SAFE by a good friend.  “I looked at a variety of options and places and SAFE looked like it would be a good fit for me.” Scott’s current SAFE buddy is Justin. “I have really connected with him and I feel he has connected with me. I really appreciate how much he tries. He is so smart and such a kind horse. I always feel such peace within myself after a training session with Justin.”

Scott is deeply touched by his work with SAFE.  “I always feel as if I get back more than I give. I love the community that has been built and continues to be nurtured at SAFE. I so admire the many strong, passionate and loving women at SAFE. There are so many amazing role models for young women to follow and learn from at SAFE. As a father of two awesome daughters, I am always looking for great women that my daughters can learn from and be mentored by. SAFE is full of these women and I love that!! I don’t feel deserving of volunteer of the month but I am appreciative of the recognition. I want to thank Terry, Jolene, and Joel for all they have taught me about horsemanship. I have learned so much and will remain eternally grateful. The more I learn, the more I feel I must give back to SAFE and our herd. Personally, I think these amazing horses are helping me more than I am helping them.”

Andre and Amelia, photo by Sundee Rickey

André Cabrera, Night Checker Extraordinaire!

Attention to detail, follow through, reliability, clear communication; all attributes of a rock-star volunteer, and André Cabrera has them in spades. André has been with SAFE since January of 2018. She has spent time on a chore shift and as a shift lead, as well as well as being a super help of at the 2018 horse show. André’s schedule is such that she is now most available to do night check, and she truly excels at this task. Night check is all about details and making sure everything is off, away, locked up, closed, safe, quiet, and that the horses are all looking good. André keeps the horses safe and the farm on track with her work on night check.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, André is a hometown girl and a die-hard Cardinals fan and lover of the Clydesdales. She currently lives in Redmond Ridge with her other half, Jorge, but is moving to Woodinville soon. Outside of baseball, André spends lots of time with her two Bernese Mountain Dogs, Pippa and Truman. She’s been doing agility with both of them just for fun for about 5 years, and they all love it.

André also loves to travel, ski, garden, workout and read, but much of the time spent on these things has taken a back seat to Jimi Hendrix, her special horse. Here she tells the story of Jimi. “I spend a big chunk of my time with him. I go to the barn every day without fail because that is the commitment that I made to Jimi when I adopted him. Jimi Hendrix came into my life about 3 ½ years ago. I met him at a retired racehorse rescue where I was volunteering, and we were instantly drawn to each other. He’d had a successful two-year racing career (just to be clear, I am absolutely not a fan of the track) at Emerald Downs and Golden Gate Fields until the tragic accident that left him with a fractured knee. That was the end of his racing career.

“As with many track horses, Jimi has a vice, and his just happens to be cribbing. Sadly, the man who owned the farm where the rescue ran its operation blamed Jimi for ruining his fence line and he actually threatened to take a gun to Jimi’s head. He was only 5 years old at the time and there was no way that I was going to let that happen. I had no plans of getting another horse, but fate took the reins and before you know it, I adopted Jimi and we’ve been together for almost 3 years now.

“After giving Jimi time to let down from the track and heal his wounded knee, I was able to turn Jimi out with a gelding herd, which has had an amazing impact on his demeanor. I’ve been working with my trainer on in-hand dressage work and occasionally liberty. We are preparing Jimi so that I may start riding him this summer.

“About 7 months ago I started working on Saturdays at Topline Equestrian Centre, where I board Jimi. Over the course of time, I have had many philosophical discussions with the owner of Topline, and we realized that we have a mutual interest in sustaining the sanctuary for horses and people that Topline has become over the past couple of decades. Recently she decided she was ready to retire and sell Topline, and I found my new career path as the owner and manager of Topline (effective May 1st). If I hadn’t adopted Jimi, this career-changing, life-altering opportunity never would have come about. I’m a great believer that everything happens for a reason.”

According to André, her passion for horses goes back to her very early childhood when she first learned to ride on her aunt and uncle’s farm. She took Hunter / Jumper lessons, eventually earned a spot on the Murray State University Equestrian Team, and acquired her first off-the-track Thoroughbred, Silent Partner. She says they had a magical partnership and accomplished great things in the Hunter / Jumper ring during their 5 years together before his premature and unexpected passing.

André feels that for the neglected and abused horses that are lucky enough to wind up at SAFE, she loves being a part of giving each and every one of them a new chance at a better life than the one they left behind. And, for the horses that were relinquished to SAFE due to financial or health circumstances, she just wants to contribute to helping them transition to their new surroundings and help give them a sense of security and caring in their environment. She loves all of the SAFE horses, but has a soft spot for baby Rae.

For André, Night Check is the best shift, she says, “it’s really my favorite shift and I feel fortunate to be one of just a handful that gets to experience this shift. It’s such a treat because I get to interact with every single one of the horses and learn their individual personalities.” Her husband, Jorge, comes with her to the barn in the evenings and she says they make a great team and enjoy tucking the horses in for the night.

Thank you Scott and André, for all you do to support SAFE! Congratulations on being named May Volunteers of the Month, and good luck on your new career adventures.