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.

March Volunteers of the Month: Heather Newton and Kimi Wagoner

Heather Newton: Upbeat, fun, and patient Shift Lead.

Heather is extremely upbeat, hard working and adds so much fun to our crew. She loves all of the horses. You see it in how she looks forward to taking them out, talking to them and taking time with each of them. Love having her as a co‐lead!”–Leigh M.

Heather Newton is a busy mom of three small children and yet finds time to co‐lead an AM chore shift here at SAFE. We have been privileged to have her with us since January of 2017, just before our move. Heather never shies away from hard, dirty work. She leads with grace and kindness, welcoming new members onto her team with congeniality. We are so fortunate she shares her passion and energy with us.

Heather is a Pacific Northwest Native, hailing from Mercer Island originally, and residing in Sammamish for the past 20 years. She says she was lucky her mom’s friend had horses growing up, so she had an early introduction to the majesty of horses. She started riding when she was three years old, and continued to be around horses thanks to her friends and neighbors. Her early years put her in contact with Arabian horses, and she would travel to Arabian shows with her friend. Heather developed a love for the breed that would eventually lead her to lease one as an adult. Heather enjoyed this partnership immensely, exploring nearby trails with her horse, who she says was always up for adventure.

Heather’s busy life as a mom made it hard for her to be around animals, and that eventually led her to SAFE. “I’m a huge animal lover so 2 years ago I was really having a need to volunteer with either dogs or horses and decided horse would be safer since I can’t bring any home with me. I found SAFE’s website and read about their mission. I brought my kids to the holiday open house at the old location in Woodinville, got the photo with Sunny and Shasta of course and was hooked. I really liked the people and the obvious professionalism of the organization.” When asked what she loves about SAFE, she replied, “The horses, the energy, the smell, the sounds. I love being around other like minded people who love horses and enjoy working hard. The Wednesday AM crew is the best! The horses are so well cared for, I love being a part of it.”

Heather loves all of the SAFE horses, but has a soft spot for a few of our geldings. “Honestly, my favorite horse is Valor. He’s such a gentleman. He has a great attitude and sense of humor and is always welcoming in the morning. I also really like Justin, he’s a sweetheart and loves attention. He comes out of his shell more every time I see him.”

SAFE Barn Manager, Lori, had this to say about Heather: “She’s a delight, a real asset to SAFE. She is a hard worker with a great attitude. She is always willing to help with anything we need, and more. She wants those extra tasks. She also is a good leader and has good rapport with her team. I love her!”

When she isn’t being our barn buddy, Heather likes to ski and mountain bike. We are so grateful she spends her free time with us. Her dedication and care is inspiring. Thank you, Heather, we appreciate you!

Kimi and Amelia

Kimi Wagoner: Gentle, sweet, humble Sunday AM chore shift volunteer

Some of you may not have had the pleasure of meeting Sunday AM crew member, Kimi Wagoner. Although Kimi has been with SAFE since September of 2016, she is quiet and unassuming as she goes about her chores. Kimi is often in the background getting things done and does not enter the spotlight with flourish. Kimi is an amazing hard worker with the tenderest of hearts for all living creatures. Her shift lead Brandee had so many kind things to say about Kimi:

She has a “great sense of humor and as you pointed out sweet and upbeat all the time, heart of gold especially when it comes to animals and never leaves the barn without making the rounds to pet/scratch/talk to all the horses first. We often tease her about all of her geese, baby birds, etc. on the property. She personally invested in those nubby gloves that scratch horse butt really well and Amelia has been her most appreciative client. Dependable and always willing to jump in and help with any activity… she focuses on doing a top notch job no matter what it is. I look forward to every Sunday just because Kimi will be there to banter and laugh with.”- Brandee W.

Weekend Barn Manager, Lexee has this to say: “Kimi is such a hardworking and kind volunteer. She always does her work with a smile, and she and I both have some sass, so every shift is a good time with lots of laughs shared. Every so often she brings her grooming gloves, and the horses know when she walks up to the fence, she’s got some good neck and body rubs coming for them! She always asks who I think needs some extra love, and I tell her, and as I watch from afar, I can see how happy the horses are as she reaches through the fence and gets “the spot” for each of them.”

Kimi grew up in Longview and did not have opportunities to be around horses as a young person. She lives in Shoreline now, and she found SAFE online. “I searched for animal rescue organizations in Washington State and found SAFE’s website.  I never imagined my search would lead me to SAFE.  I had zero horse experience and thought that would have been a negative aspect to volunteering, but it was the exact opposite. I’m very fortunate to work with a fabulous crew on Sunday morning.  I’m grateful for Shar staying after our shift and grooming Mason while I groomed Stormy.  I appreciate Brandee because from my first day at Woodinville SAFE up to now, she has taught me how to pick stalls, handle the horses, and is always willing to answer all my horse‐related questions.”

Kimi truly enjoys getting to know all of the horses and their funny ways. She is a close observer of their behavior and finds their good itchy spots. She has had some favorites over the years. “My first favorite horse was Stormy because she was so gentle and kind. She was very patient with me and taught me all my equine skills. When she was adopted, I formed a bond with Raven. After my shift I would spend some time giving her love and grooming her with my “Raven Gloves.” She would turn one side to me and then eventually the other. She loved her butt scratched! Lately I’ve been grooming Amelia and attending to her itchy spots.”

Kimi has her own little place with her husband and their dog, cats, chickens, and rabbits. She and her husband are avid sports fans and like to root for the Huskies and the Sounders. Kimi also likes to go to the driving range. SAFE is a kind, welcoming place, thanks, in part to Kimi. Thank you, Kimi, and congratulations on being a Volunteer of the Month.

February Volunteers of the Month: Lori Page and Kaya Mead

Lori Page: Reliable, Kind, Friday PM Volunteer! February is about love, and we LOVE our volunteers. We love that our volunteers love each other, and we really LOVE that our volunteers love the horses. Lori Page is someone who falls into all of those categories, she loves SAFE, she loves her fellow volunteers and she LOVES the horses. Her very first memories are of horses when she was 5 or 6 years old. She was hooked from the very start, and although she doesn’t have a horse right now, she has had many over the years. Lori once had a beautiful gelding named Co Co who was a tall, successful jumper. Lori and Co Co had a special relationship. He even let himself into the house on more than one occasion. They walked in the Redmond Derby Days parade together for a number of years. Even though he has been out of her life for some time, Lori still thinks of him and misses him. She has had many favorite SAFE horses over her almost three years with us, but Raven will stay with her forever. Raven held a special place in her heart and she misses her a lot.

We have Lori’s sister to thank for Lori finding us. When she learned about SAFE on Facebook, she came right out to an orientation and has been on a chore shift ever since humbly and reliably doing chores no matter the weather. When she isn’t at SAFE enjoying the sights and sounds of the barn, she is spending time with her grandchildren, family, and friends. She enjoys walking her dog, gardening, hiking, and just being outside. Lori, we are grateful for your service and your smiling face. Congratulations on being named a February Volunteer of the Month!

Kaya Mead: Patient, Calm Horsemanship Volunteer! February Volunteer of the Month, Kaya Mead, has made a big impression on SAFE in a small amount of time. Kaya is part of our horsemanship program and she works with a number of our horses weekly. She really loves them all. Her stock phrase is, “I just love this horse so much!” She particularly loves Angel and Lacey, two horses that need the patience and consistency Kaya provides. Her early experience with horses left a lasting mark on Kaya. She was fortunate to grow up next door to a professional Arabian horse trainer where Kaya traded mucking for lessons. It was at this barn Kaya met a beautiful dark bay Polish Arab mare named Brandy who clearly had a low opinion of people. Kaya used her calm, kind, patient nature to reassure Brandy. The consistent kindness she showed Brandy made all the difference, and by the end of their acquaintance, Brandy would come for pets and scratches of her own accord. This experience inspired Kaya and lit a flame of desire to help horses to be happy in the world of humans.

Kaya was born in West Michigan and moved to South Carolina before settling in Seattle in August of 2017. She found SAFE online and was thrilled to find a place to utilize her skills and meet people who share her passion. Kaya feels so grateful that she found SAFE. She is appreciative for the opportunity to learn and grow with us. When she is not volunteering at SAFE, Kaya is working to help teens facing homelessness gain life and career skills at a nonprofit coffee shop in Seattle. SAFE shares her attitude of gratitude, thank you Kaya, and congratulations on being a February Volunteer of the Month!

Photos by Sundee Rickey & Jessica Farren

2018 Volunteer of the Year: Candace Carlson

When it comes to helping SAFE succeed, there are a lot of different ways that volunteers can make a difference. Most of our wonderful volunteers start out by devoting one morning or afternoon a week to their favorite horse rescue, and their dedication to our horses ensures that everyone is well fed and well cared for. For some people, that weekly “horse fix” is enough, but for others, it’s the start of something that soon becomes a significant part of their lives. They each tend to have a particular talent or something they really enjoy doing, and together we find a way to make that talent work for SAFE. Each time this happens, the organization becomes stronger.

So when it comes time to select a volunteer to honor as our Volunteer of the Year, we will look to those individuals who have really made their mark on this rescue through hard work and dedication. This year, there was one person in particular that we felt had taken her role to a level far beyond what we thought was possible. That person is Candace Carlson, the Queen of all things Tack here at Safe Harbor Stables.

An enormous amount of tack is donated to SAFE every year. Were it not for Candace, that donated tack would probably take over every inch of this 11 acre farm we call home. In 2016, she took it upon herself to bring order to chaos and turn mold into gold. Candace sorts through bags of donated tack each week, and divides into into items we need for our own horses, and items we can sell to raise money for them. She cleans and restores tack that’s been neglected, she researches the value of some of the items we’re given, and she prepares it to go to tack sales or be sold here at SAFE. Her efforts have paid off spectacularly. In the three years she’s been in charge of tack donations, she has raised more than $23,000 for the horses at SAFE. Mold into gold, indeed!

When asked about herself and her volunteer work with SAFE, she had this to say:

Candace and Jewel

I grew up in Bremerton, but have lived and worked in downtown Seattle for many years. In 2015, I retired from Metro Transit where I managed the 7‐agency ORCA fare payment system. I first learned of SAFE from a news article several years ago which featured Bonnie’s horse rescue efforts.  I was hooked. Through my work site’s Employee Giving program, I was able to support SAFE with annual donations. On retiring, signing up as a SAFE volunteer was a high priority. Like most of us, I’ve always loved horses, but living in the city with a crazy work schedule is not conducive to horse ownership. I ride Western and am the product of horse camps, treks, lessons, and lease horses. A lot of good horses in that mix! I enjoy my SAFE job handling tack donations. We get amazing donations. SAFE horses get the best to meet their needs and we sell the rest or pass along to other rescues. On a few occasions, people donating their tack after their horse has passed will include the most heartfelt notes. They have lost their horse and it gives them comfort or a kind of closure knowing that a SAFE horse will use their gear. I have cried with some people, shared their loss.”  Candace feels it helps people to know we can honor their horse’s memory by putting their used tack to work. Without Candace’s help, we would not be able to do so much with these donations. Used tack donations represent a a consistent source of income for SAFE, helping us diversify our revenue. Not only that, but she was instrumental in helping Kit to distribute over 90 blankets this year for our Blanket Bank.

When asked about her favorite SAFE horses, she says “Who can resist babies?” She thinks Nova and Rae are adorable. However, she spends most of her time in Tack Central, away from the bustle of the barn. Tack Central consists of two large stalls on the southeast corner of the main barn, an outside row, which is often used for quarantine and recuperating horses. Last fall, Valor spent a number of weeks recuperating in a stall next to Candace’s headquarters and she developed a soft spot for him. Valor would swing his head as far toward Candace as he could to see what she was doing. To keep him company and make him feel important, Candace would show him bits of tack and let him give his opinions. Valor’s sweet demeanor won her over, and she is looking forward to him finding his forever home. She thinks he’s a gem.

As Katniss Everdeen, during the End Hunger Games at SAFE

Although Candace doesn’t work on a regular team, her amazing attitude and dedication does not escape the notice of other volunteers. Thursday AM crew member, Debbie Meyer, reflected on what it is like to work with Candace: “When I was looking for more areas in which to help at SAFE, I was thrilled to see Candace was looking for a Tack Queen Assistant. Even though I didn’t know anything about tack at the time, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about horses. Even though I hadn’t worked with Candace before, I had previously observed her commitment and focus on those days when we were both at the barn. I knew I would enjoy working with and learning from her, given her calm, kind, patient demeanor; and I was right!  Candace is dedicated to helping SAFE raise money on tack sales and has raised a significant amount, mostly on her own with her organized and professional approach! Her compassion for the SAFE horses and perseverance with tackling the challenges of the 4H, SAFE and online tack sales have fueled her success.  SAFE is lucky to have her.”

Weekend Barn Manager, Lexee Navarre had this to say about Candace: “I always know when Candace is at the barn because it’s usually in the middle of the day during my “quiet hours” that I hear her little radio playing classic tunes as she works away sorting all the new donations and pulling out merchandise for potential buyers. We usually catch up while I complain about how tiring school is and she always smiles and laughs at my stories. It’s always a pleasure to see Candace and watch the immense amount of work she puts in for SAFE’s tack sales. It’s definitely her niche and she just does it so well! It’s so nice walking into those tack stalls, where I can always stumble in and am able to find what a client is looking for. The organization is just incredible, and leaves me in awe.”

Our 2018 Volunteer of the Year recipient was announced at our holiday potluck celebration, an event Candace hadn’t planned on attending until a couple of her fellow volunteers cajoled her into coming. SAFE’s Executive Director Bonnie Hammond made the announcement during her year‐end presentation, and Candace was quite surprised when she realized that the volunteer being honored was actually her!! She said later that she had expected to be one of several people given a Starbucks Card or some such gift. We were happy to spoil her with some lovely flowers, tickets to Heart of the Horse, and her name on our Volunteer of the Year plaque, which hangs in the SAFE offices. And an inflatable crown, a fitting gift for the Tack Queen herself!

Candace, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being part of SAFE. You have made such a tremendous difference for our horses!

January Volunteers of the Month: Leigh Mackey and Phoebe Trocano

We realize our amazing corps of volunteers has grown and we don’t have near enough months in the year to recognize all of their hard work. In 2019 we will be spotlighting two tremendous volunteers per month in an attempt to show our gratitude for all they do to make SAFE successful. This month we are pleased to honor shift‐lead all‐star, Leigh Mackey and horsemanship volunteer, Phoebe Trocano.

Leigh has been with SAFE since November of 2016 when we were at the Woodinville farm. Leigh quickly demonstrated her reliability, warm nature, and confident skills with the horses. She was part of our original Shift Lead program and helped us make the transition to Redmond. Leigh has put in almost 250 hours of service (that we know of) and she is always happy to train new volunteers on her shift. She has contributed to SAFE all while keeping up a busy horse life of her own. Leigh is a native of Kirkland and currently lives on her own farm in Fall City. Her mom had Arabians when she was young and Leigh began riding at an early age. Leigh has 7 horses at her farm, 5 of which she actively shows. Leigh also volunteers with Serenity Equine Rescue and for WASART (Washington State Animal Response Team). And, if that isn’t enough, she runs a foundation and manages apartments. Leigh loves being at SAFE, surrounded by people who are as passionate about horses as she is. She learns about horse keeping and training from her experiences with us and says she is able to apply that knowledge around her own farm. Leigh admits she has a thing for Arabians, so it makes sense she adores our sassy Cameo. We are thankful Leigh found us and that she continues to make time in her busy life to support us. Congratulations on being a January Volunteer of the Month, Leigh!

Phoebe is a Southern Louisiana native who currently works with horses in our horsemanship program. She started with SAFE as a chore volunteer in July of 2017 and moved up to Shift Lead before becoming part of the volunteer handlers. Phoebe has clocked over 300 service hours in her year and a half with us. She gives her time taking our SAFE horses in clinics with Joel Conner and in her regular training sessions with horses like Amelia. When she is not helping out at SAFE, Phoebe enjoys working leather and she has created some truly outstanding pieces of tack for SAFE horses and SAFE friends. Phoebe has family in the area and enjoys supporting them and playing with her grandson. Phoebe and her husband, Rick, live in Woodinville, but love spending time at their place in Pateros, WA. What Phoebe enjoys most about volunteering at SAFE is the opportunities to learn. She enjoys the ever‐changing challenges of getting to know new horses and work them through their issues. Phoebe also feels warmly welcomed here at SAFE and enjoys her barn family. Thank you, Phoebe, for all you do and congratulations for being chosen a January Volunteer of the Month! 

December Volunteer of the Month: Skye Guidotti


SAFE is thrilled to announce our December 2018 Volunteer of the Month, Skye Guidotti. Skye has lived in Seattle for most of her adult life. She remembers falling in love with horses as a child after a memorable pony ride. Her grandfather had horses when she was growing up and she was fortunate to be able to visit his ranch in Oregon and ride his horses. Skye tells a funny story about how her grandfather tricked her parents into getting Skye a horse for her 16th birthday. He took Skye to ride a mare that everyone thought he was buying for himself. When Skye’s birthday came around her grandfather asked her parents how much they were going to pay for SKYE’S horse. She enjoyed horse ownership during high school, but since then she has been horseless. Skye is an artist by training and has created some amazing projects, including a stuffed horse with internal structure capable of holding adult weight. This was a university final project which she had to wheel through the streets of Seattle to get to class. We sure would have loved to see that!

Skye loves all of the SAFE horses, particularly the ones who seem hard to adopt. She admits to being partial to Nashville because she can seem grumpy on the outside, but is a very sweet horse once she gets to know you. Skye is a dependable, smiling face on our Monday crew. She helps with facilities and whatever else needs to be done. She fills in on other shifts and recruits new volunteers through her enthusiastic support of SAFE. We thank Skye for all of her energy and passion.

November Volunteer of the Month: Blair Fleming

SAFE is pleased to announce, albeit a tad late, our November 2018 Volunteer of the Month,  Blair Fleming. Blair is a busy gal who manages to recruit new volunteers for SAFE, plan and execute work parties, and work the Friday PM shift, all while working two jobs and putting herself through radiology school. You would never know she leads such a hectic life, as Blair brings immense energy and a sunny disposition to her volunteer work at SAFE. Additionally, Blair assists with the facilities team and manages SAFE’s Instagram presence. SAFE is so thankful to have this Kirkland native as part of the team.

As a little girl Blair would travel to Montana to visit her family on a ranch. She admits to being completely obsessed with horses and rode bareback as often as she could. Her mother noticed her passion for horses and back in Washington, she signed Blair up for horse camps and riding lessons. She has never had a horse of her own, but she feels fortunate to learn from all of the horses here at SAFE.

Blair has worked with Tabitha and Renee, and loves them both.  She has a hard time picking favorites, but really appreciates all of the horses for their individual traits. Blair feels a special connection to Tabitha, as she notes Tabi has come so far in her time with us. Blair loves seeing Tabi’s confidence and calm grow as her handling has been consistent. Blair is a special light to have here at SAFE. Thank you for your time and energy, Blair! 

September Volunteer of the Month: Catherine Noyes

Kirkland resident Catherine Noyes has been named as Save a Forgotten Equine’s September Volunteer of the Month. She was selected for this honor because of her interest in every aspect of horse rescue. Catherine helps with the basics of cleaning up after the horses, feeding, watering, and she participates in every opportunity to learn about natural horsemanship which is practiced at SAFE. She’s cheerful, knowledgeable and a pleasure to have around the barn.

Originally from New Hampshire, Catherine has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2001. Catherine has always had a pet in her life and feels a special connection with horses, perhaps because her mother and grandmother both grew up with horses.

Volunteering at SAFE for the past 1½ years, Catherine says “I have learned so much about horses and myself. To be a part of the reason these horses get a forever home is great.” One of her favorite SAFE horses is Rosie who was adopted earlier this year. “She taught me so much.” Catherine is also very fond of Renee, a quarter horse mare who is available for adoption. “She is a great teacher as a horse. I’ve learned to be present and strong in myself.”

August Volunteer of the Month: Samantha McMaster

Arlington resident and high school student Samantha (Sam) McMaster has been named as Save a Forgotten Equine’s August Volunteer of the Month. Sam was selected for this honor because this summer, she’s been volunteering almost every day at our farm. She’s done everything from moving horses, to grooming and bathing horses, to feeding them, to cleaning stalls and pastures, to polishing silver on donated pieces of tack. She does it all and without question, just jumps in and gets it done! She’s been a tremendous help; and since she’s a student, she’s going to leave a huge hole to fill when school starts up again.

Originally from eastern Washington, Sam’s in the process of moving to western Washington and currently resides in Arlington. Her first exposure to horses was as a child with an aunt who had horses. Sam has never had her own horse but would love to adopt a horse from SAFE someday.

Sam has been spending the summer with her aunt, who works at SAFE, so Sam comes to work with her every day. Sam loves seeing all the horses and working alongside all the fabulous volunteers. Her favorite SAFE horse is Bowie, a Haflinger gelding, because she “loves all the hugs and kisses he gives me.” When not spending time at SAFE, she spends time with her aunt’s horses.

July Volunteer of the Month: Pat Banner

Redmond resident Pat Banner has been named as Save a Forgotten Equine’s July Volunteer of the Month. She was selected for this honor because of her tireless energy and work ethic, her incredible reliability (unless there’s snow!) and her all round cheerfulness.

Pat Banner is an 84‐year‐old retired elementary school teacher who taught in Puerto Rico and three different states during her career. After retiring, she moved to Washington where she lives with her rescued blue heeler Kiko.

Not one to let the grass grow under her feet, Pat has stayed busy in retirement. In addition to volunteering at SAFE, she currently volunteers with Sara’s Sanctuary, Evergreen Hospital and Evergreen Hospice. Pat said, “I’m not sure how long I’ve been volunteering with SAFE but I remember the birds nesting in the stable last year so it must be about a year.”

Years ago, when Pat lived in South Lake Tahoe she took riding lessons and was able to have a horse of her own named Easter. When she moved to Redmond she gave Easter to “another lady who needed a horse”. Pat said, “I think horses are beautiful and smart and I’m happy to be around them a little and help make their lives more comfortable…I clean stalls and put clean bedding in.”

I think everyone who volunteers at SAFE is wonderful. They are so friendly, caring, hard‐working and dedicated. It’s an honor to be among such an elite group.”

June Volunteer of the Month: Carolyn Gudmundson

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.