Volunteers of the Month
SAFE is incredibly fortunate to have such amazing volunteers. Each month, we select one exceptional volunteer to honor as our Volunteer of the Month and 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.
Woodinville resident Carolyn Gudmundson has been named as Save a Forgotten Equine’s June Volunteer of the Month. She was selected for this honor because of all the years she’s helped look after our rescue horses with consistency, with genuine care, and with absolute gusto. Carolyn is a workhorse, a go-getter and a tireless leader of her crew team. She’s been an amazing, long-time asset to SAFE.
Carolyn was looking for an opportunity to work with animals again after leaving work as a biologist when her youngest son was born. She saw SAFE’s location and thought it sounded interesting. Carolyn began volunteering with SAFE in the fall of 2015, after her youngest son started Kindergarten.
Carolyn has seen a lot of horses come and go during her time at SAFE. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but one that sticks out in her mind is Emmy. “My first day volunteering at SAFE I went in to clean Emmy’s stall and paddock. I had a pair of leather gloves in the back pocket of my pants. Emmy thought they were quite intriguing and followed me around the paddock while I cleaned, trying to nibble on the gloves. It was a fun way to begin my time at SAFE.”
“I’ve felt blessed to be a part of the amazing team of volunteers at SAFE. Much of the work is thankless, dirty work but people do it gladly and I’ve had a great opportunity to rub shoulders with some wonderful folks. Many people find it hard to believe I would voluntarily clean horse stalls and other barn chores but I have loved watching the transitions the horses who come in to our care go through. Most of the horses come to SAFE with severe physical and behavioral challenges because of neglect and abuse. It’s inspiring to watch the changes these horses go through as they learn to trust humans again. Love, care, patience, and persistence changes lives, animal and human alike. Other horses come to SAFE when, due to circumstances beyond their control, their owners can no longer care for them. It is a difficult decision to have to make to surrender a beloved pet. I’m thankful a place like SAFE exists so, when owners have to make that decision, their horses have a future.”
When not volunteering for SAFE, Carolyn spends most of her time keeping up with her three sons and their active, busy schedules.
Snohomish resident Lillian Hinett has been named as Save a Forgotten Equine’s April Volunteer of the Month. She was selected for this honor largely because of the numerous times she fills in when there’s a vacancy on a shift. Lillian has a regular chores shift at the barn; and even with her heavy work schedule away from SAFE and through recent surgery, she soldiers through like a trooper. She’s strong, she’s cheerful and dependable – a SAFE kind of volunteer!
Lillian was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Washington in 1989 to be close to her family. She became involved with horses while a teenager and was part of a Girl Scout troop which focused on horse activities. The troop did a lot of riding and camping trips in Palm Springs and the San Bernardino mountains.
While she doesn’t own a horse at the moment, Lillian says the SAFE horses are like having her own pony. “I can love on them knowing they will love me back.” Her favorite SAFE horses are two lovely mares, Stella, a Paso Fino Cross and Nashville, a Quarter Horse.
Lillian says she particularly likes volunteering with others that make SAFE possible and being around the horses. When not volunteering at SAFE, Lillian works in retail and enjoys kayaking and biking.
The Bradbury Family (Robert, Karen, Annalise and Jon) from Woodinville have been named Save a Forgotten Equine’s March Volunteers of the Month. They were selected for this honor because they are exceptional role models of a family supporting their child’s desire to volunteer. Each of them is hardworking and dependable, honoring their commitment to care for the SAFE horses each week.
Daughter Annalise was the catalyst behind getting the entire family involved with helping horses. She has been riding since the age of 6. About two years ago, Annalise wanted to volunteer at SAFE but was not yet the required age of 16, so mom and dad, Robert and Karen, signed up to volunteer with her. Once she turned 16, they just kept volunteering.
The family members each have different favorite horses at SAFE. Jon’s favorites are mini horses Sunny D and Shasta, SAFE’s ambassadors. Annalise’s favorite is also a mini – Ruckus (adopted last year) because he has a big, spunky personality. Karen thinks Tesara, a Paso Fino mare, is pretty sweet and Robert likes them all!
The family does not have horses of their own, but they do enjoy visiting Grandma’s horses in California. When not volunteering at SAFE, the family enjoys hiking, camping, playing games and being outside, exercising and occasionally binge watching favorite shows. Congratulations, Bradbury Family!
Redmond resident Jennifer Anderson has been named as the Save a Forgotten Equine’s February Volunteer of the Month. She was selected for this honor because of her infectious cheerfulness, her willingness to take on new assignments, including leadership of the morning crew, her work ethic and consistently positive attitude regardless of the weather, changes in farm protocols, or circumstances.
Anderson moved from the Phoenix area two years ago and was looking for a volunteer opportunity with animals. She discovered SAFE at an information booth at Redmond’s Derby Days last summer. Anderson was astounded that she could be around horses even though she didn’t have any experience with them. “I’ve always loved horses but hadn’t had the opportunity in life to be around them. It was a perfect fit!”
When asked who her favorite horse is at SAFE, Anderson replied, “Only one?!” She loves several of the horses for their unique personalities. However, Nashville, an 11-year old Quarter Horse mare, has a special place in her heart.
Anderson says, “Volunteering at SAFE has been such a blessing in my life. I’m not a morning person, but I look forward to getting up every week to see the horses, spend time with awesome volunteers and make sure the horses are well cared for. I have learned more than I could have imagined in my time with SAFE. When I first started I was a little scared of the horses, if there wasn’t a fence between us. Now that fear has transformed into caution and awareness. I learn something new every single shift. It’s hard work, but I love every minute of it!”
When she isn’t working her full-time job or volunteering at SAFE, Anderson sings with the Redmond Chorale, is an avid reader, and enjoys wine tasting and spending time with her 13-year old rescue dog, Cody.
Marie has always been an animal lover and has had animals since she was a little girl. Currently, her family is happy to include an adopted cat and a rescued German Shepard.
When Marie’s second child left for college in the fall of 2016, she was not ready to be an empty-nester. Marie says, “I decided I needed to do something to get me out of that slump, so one day I did a Google search for volunteer opportunities related to animals, and SAFE popped up.” She began volunteering in July 2017 on a barn chore shift and soon added a night check shift to her schedule. “I get the best of both worlds, working with horses and being with a great group of volunteers, and then the quiet serene barn at night with just the horses.”
Marie finds it almost impossible to choose a favorite SAFE horse, but she does love spending time with Prince, a Morgan gelding, who she calls the “Fabio” of the SAFE herd.
“I had always been in the mindset that to exercise a horse they should be ridden, but through SAFE I have gained an appreciation and understanding of companion horses and the loving care that they need to feel healthy and loved is just as important. I am so thankful for all that I have learned and will continue to learn from the wonderful people I have met at SAFE.”
Washington native Cathy Olson has been honored as Save a Forgotten Equine’s (SAFE) December Volunteer of the Month in recognition of four years of consistent service that includes working barn shifts and performing night shift, various clerical tasks, editing the weekly volunteer update, and staffing the SAFE booth at public events.
Cathy started volunteering for SAFE in fall 2013 on an afternoon chores shift. When a change in career and job schedule prevented her from being able to commit to a regular weekly shift, she continued to fill in when she could and helped with special events. She missed being around horses, so she started a night check shift, and then started helping the volunteer manager with clerical tasks.
She says she started volunteering with SAFE when she became an empty-nester with time on her hands. “My riding instructor mentioned SAFE needed volunteers, so I attended a fall open house and met a beautiful horse named Phoenix right off the bat, who was the unofficial greeter at SAFE in Woodinville, and that sealed the deal.”
Cathy says she is especially drawn to the companion horses, because she sees so much potential and opportunities in loving a horse who is no longer able to carry a rider. While she hasn’t ridden herself for several years, she considers volunteering with SAFE a great way to stay involved with horses. “It can be sad to see the various circumstances of why horses come to SAFE, but it is uplifting to know we can make such a difference in their lives and help them find their happily ever-after forever home.”
SAFE wishes to recognize Jules Malen for his courage, his sweet disposition, his surprising appearance at the barn Saturday mornings in spite of the impact that chemotherapy has on his physical condition, and his overall attitude and love of SAFE and the horses.
Fellow shift volunteer Nitant says, “Jules is an extremely valued member of the Saturday morning shift. His calm demeanor, friendly disposition and hardworking nature make him a popular face on the shift. He arrives early at the barn and can be seen cleaning stalls, hauling water buckets or cleaning feed-pans with enviable vigor. He is one of the last people to check out, not leaving until all the horses have clean stalls, and sufficient food and water.
Saturday crew mate Jennifer adds, “Jules was one of the first people I met during my first shift at SAFE. He was always there with a quiet greeting and ready to work hard. When he shared his story of moving to Washington and shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, I was shocked that he kept up with the work at SAFE. He would tell me he wasn’t going to be there the next week due to chemo and then, bam … he was there the following week. He is an inspiration to me with his willingness to work, his love of the horses and the pride he takes in a job well done.”
Hailing originally from Salt Lake City, Jules now calls Redmond home. He says he had dreams as a kid about working with and owning a horse, “so my main goal when moving up here was to get involved with a horse rescue as a way to get my foot in the door and maybe make a career out of it someday.”
Luckily, he saw a flyer about SAFE, signed up for an orientation tour, and was “instantly hooked!” Now, he says, “it’s very obvious everyone cares for the well-being of the horses.”
Jules is a special fan of Ruger. “He always stuck his head out when I walked by and I couldn’t help but have a conversation with him. I am also very happy Ruger found a forever home and will have the peace and quiet he deserves.”
When he’s not at the barn, Jules says he likes to go for walks/hikes and enjoys concerts and listening to a wide variety of music. He has worked with computers for about 20 years and spends time tinkering with them on various projects ranging from hardware to programming.
Finally, Jules says he has enjoyed working with everyone at SAFE and hopes to be back soon. We hope so too, Jules.
Facilities crew member and chore volunteer Brandee Warren is October Volunteer of the Month for Save a Forgotten Equine. Among the special projects she has helped with, fellow volunteers may recall seeing her geared up and pressure washing stalls at the Woodinville property before the move last February.
The Issaquah resident first learned about SAFE when she joined a Day of Caring event in 2015, and began volunteering a month later. “SAFE has been my ‘go-to happy place’ for two years now,” she says.
Brandee’s grandmother, herself an avid horsewoman in her youth, helped inspire her early love for horses. “She and my parents provided me the opportunity to ride when I was younger,” she says. While she has never owned a horse, she finds many horses to love at SAFE and acknowledges a soft spot for Ruger and Stormy, and a lasting love for alumni Phoenix and Anakin.
Asked what she likes best about volunteering with SAFE, Brandee says, “Besides the obvious of getting a weekly horse fix, it is truly the people at SAFE that are so fantastic. I have never met a more welcoming, supportive and dedicated group of people. I have made many great friends and had awesome experiences with my friends at SAFE!”
When not helping out at the barn, she said she is focused on work and on building her own farm and stable in Issaquah as her retirement landing spot.
Our September honoree had not been around horses before joining SAFE, “but always referred to my beloved, rescued, Italian mastiff, Guido, as my ‘pony’ because he was the biggest of the four mastiffs I have had over the last 25 years.
“After Guido went to doggy heaven, I reluctantly accepted that he will be my last giant breed dog. However, I still wanted to be around big animals and was looking for another animal non-profit organization with which to volunteer.” SAFE came highly recommended by Guido’s care team, and after attending an open house and meeting Sunny D and Shasta, Debbie signed on to work a chore shift.
“Volunteering at SAFE is helping me to emotionally heal from a number of significant losses over the past year,” she says. “I lost Guido after a 15- month battle with cancer, the last six of which we also fought a heart condition often found in horses. I then unexpectedly lost my dear mother to a brain aneurysm; and three months later, I lost my adored Rocco whom I always affectionately referred to as my little mastiff in a cat suit because Rocco had the biggest head of any cat I had ever met!
“I’m learning so many new things about horses and their care from the kind, patient, dedicated SAFE staff and volunteers who are more horse savvy than I can ever dream of becoming; and that has proven to be very stimulating for me.”
Debbie is especially fond of Shasta, Sunny and Ben. “Ben is the biggest horse I have ever met, so I consider him to be the mastiff of horses; and I find it adorable that he and Sunny are best friends! I was thrilled when Lori asked me to be a ‘buddy’ to Shasta and Sunny and cannot tell you how heart- warming it is to me when they whinny at the sound of my voice when I arrive for the Thursday AM chores shift and when they trot to their pasture fence to greet me when I stop in during the week to check on them. I also have a soft spot for Owen because I know Owen knows I am not a horse person and, as a result, initially kept his distance, not letting me pet him but observing me from afar, as if wondering how long I was going to last. He evidently concluded my being an ‘animal person’ was OK, too; and the day he greeted me at his pasture fence and allowed me to pet him, I felt accepted.”
When not spending time at SAFE, Debbie stays busy with bowling, gardening, learning foreign languages, occasional travel, spending time with family and friends, volunteering with the Friends of Big Finn Hill Park, walking and watching professional football.
SAFE’s August Volunteer of the Month, Kino McFarland, “seemed to be everywhere at every moment” during the recent benefit horse show at Donida Equestrian Center. “And when she wasn’t volunteering at the show, she had her camera in hand, working on a video to help promote next year’s show,” says SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond.
Kino and her video camera have become a familiar sight around the barn since she first visited SAFE in 2013 and has continued to capture footage promoting SAFE’s adoptable horses. The multi-talented Seattle resident also signed on for a weekly chore shift in April and often volunteers for extra shifts.
Hailing originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Kino started riding when she was 8 and rode in a variety of disciplines from western pleasure to hunter/jumper until she was 16. After a nine-year break, she got back into horses in 2012 as a groom for the Cincinnati Polo Club and in 2013 became an eventing working student.
“Not only do I love the horses at SAFE, but the people have been incredibly welcoming and supportive,” Kino says. “They’ve become like a second family to me in a very short amount of time.”
“It’s difficult to pick a favorite (horse),” she says, “but I probably like Jewel and Stevie the best.”
When not at SAFE, Kino makes horror movies, writes, and performs sideshow as an escape artist and glass-walker.
SAFE could not exist without the services of the many volunteers like Kino who dedicate their time and talents to creating and maintaining a safe and healthful environment for our rescued horses.
Sample Kino’s work! Kino made this video to help introduce Emmy to her adopter: