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.
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:
Native Washingtonian Samantha Jacobsen is being recognized by Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE) horse rescue as July Volunteer of the Month for serving on multiple chore shifts and helping out at special events, most recently at Redmond Derby Days.
Sam has been interested in and involved with horses since childhood. When she was 15, her family moved to Redmond, “where we had about 15 acres and eventually five horses,” she says. “We were there for about 10 years. One of my favorite experiences was when we bred one of our mares. Being a part of the birthing process and then raising the foal was something I will always cherish.”
She discovered SAFE in 2015 while working a a desk job and looking for a volunteer opportunity that involved physical activity. “Luckily, SAFE was the first thing that popped up in my search!”
“I am so proud to be part of this organization,” she says. “I continue to be impressed by the hard work, dedication, devotion and pure love that goes into running SAFE. The people and the horses, of course, keep me coming back. I’ve never felt so good about scooping poop — and knowing that every job contributes to the bigger picture. It’s so rewarding to see, especially with some of our more severe cases, the progress they make not only physically but emotionally as well. Just knowing that the horses know they are now in a safe, loving environment makes me more happy than I can say.” I’m sure this has been said before, but I know that I have benefited tenfold by my experience with SAFE and I plan to be here as long as they will have me.”
Sam says Stevie holds a particularly special place in her heart. He and Lacey (rescued together) were the first complete transformation she witnessed. “Stevie was so thin, but always so curious and accepting of me when I would muck his stall and paddock. He was like a little puppy. Now, to see both of them so healthy and happy is truly a testament to all the hard work the staff and volunteers have contributed.”
SAFE could not exist without all the many dedicated volunteers like Sam who ensure that SAFE horses have adequate food, water and a clean living environment every day.
Stephanie and Jennifer work a weekly barn chore shift, while Tim steps in to work alongside Jennifer when Stephanie is unavailable (she works full time as a wildlife veterinarian and epidemiologist specializing in marine creatures).
Stephanie began riding at age 12, and she was hooked on SAFE when she spied Sunny D and Shasta during one of the minis’ appearances at PetSmart in Woodinville. She stopped at the SAFE booth and soon after, she and Jennifer signed on to volunteer together. Not only did they make the weekly barn chore commitment, but Jennifer and her dad, Tim, also worked tirelessly during SAFE’s move to Redmond in February.
Originally from Dallas, Texas, the family now makes their home in Bothell. The three say they get a sense of accomplishment and enjoy taking care of SAFE horses until they find their forever homes. While they like all the horses, Stephanie admits to a soft spot for King.
SAFE is an amazing haven for horses because of people like this trio of dedicated volunteers!
Michelle’s lifelong love of horses started with a pony ride at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. “It is actually my first true memory,” she says. “The leather saddle, pungent scent of pony, the soft fur, playing with the bits of mane I could reach and the sun shining through the trees … I was lost from that moment.”
SAFE first came to Michelle’s attention when her high school classmate Terry Phelps‐Peddy invited her for a tour. Michelle started volunteering and enjoyed the comradeship in support of a good cause and being around horses. She misses her horse Gino since he was retired to southern California and admits she is quietly looking for a new companion.
A full time employee of the Boeing Company, Michelle enjoys spending time off with family, traveling, working on her house and garden, and reading.
Candi lives in North Bend with her husband Kerry, a sergeant with the Washington State Patrol, and their four dogs. The couple have identical 21‐year‐old twin sons.
“I have always had a love for horses since the first time my aunt Jackie put me on the back of her horse Luke when I was only two,” Candi says. “I used to have a Saddlebred and rode saddle seat in the Southwest Circuit in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. When we moved back here, we couldn’t bring my horse and I missed it terribly.”
Candi first got involved with SAFE alongside her aunt and joined up as a regular volunteer about a year ago. “At SAFE, I am a part of the auction procurement team, the facilities team, I help record at the auction and I am co‐mini wrangler with Jackie for all of Sunny D and Shasta’s outreach visits. I fill in on chores and was the official pooper‐scooper for the Joel Conner Clinic. I am a ‘get ‘er done’ kind of gal. Give me a project, assign me a task and I will make sure it gets done. I am so excited to be tackling the greenhouse, aka ‘Jeanne’s Place’ so Jeanne, SAFE’s facilities manager, can have it for her facilities headquarters.”
Candi says she is in awe of SAFE, “the dedication of its volunteers, the compassion, success stories and overall commitment to making life better for the horses that have suffered such injustice. An added bonus is that I get to spend more time with my BFF/Aunt Jackie! We are the ‘can do’ team.”
When not volunteering at SAFE, Candi is a photographer, specializing in real estate photography, and runs her own marketing company.