It’s not just about the specific charities I love to give to, but the reason behind it all. Growing up, I did have a lot. We lived on a farm. I never went hungry. Always got to go to school. Had my own horses and sheep, dog and cats. Had people who cared.
Until my high school years and things fell apart a bit. When they did, a friend stepped up and took me home to her family. They had next to nothing but were willing to share everything they had with me, mostly the love that I needed.
I grew up remembering that gift.
I went to college. And then off to sing in Europe, where people who didn’t even know me helped me with a place to live (and furnishings) and getting jobs. I may have been scared, but I never had to be really scared.
When I finally came back to the states I knew that I wanted to share the same good fortune I’d experienced. I wanted to give back. I tried a few volunteer things and then in 1998 I read an article about making blankets for children in distress. I knew this was something I could do – my love of knitting and crocheting and sewing would translate into helping a child feel safe. As there was no chapter of the organization in my area, I was asked to start one. I did and it really took off. Over 35,000 blankets later, we are now known as “From Our Heart” and still going very strong (and newly registered as a 501c3). I even help run an event at the Special Olympics each year where we have the athletes and soldiers at JBLM color pre-stenciled squares of fabric that we sew into quilts for the children helped by our fabulous organization. We have given blankets to local children in hospitals, shelters, foster care and in the individual instances as with our service people (Fire, Police, Armed Forces) – we have also sent blankets (when we have enough) to survivors of 9-11, Columbine, Katrina, and so many other natural and not so natural disasters. To know that there is a blanket wrapped around a child like a hug, providing them a little comfort in very difficult times, makes me feel I have a purpose.
But this wasn’t the only way I needed to give back. Having given my horses up when I left for college, I knew that I wanted to have another horse someday. In 2008, I turned 50. I had a great job and was feeling really ready to try to find my new horse. I went to an event called “Celebrate the Horse” where a few equine rescues presented their information – one of which was “Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE)”. The two women I spoke with inspired me to want to not only adopt but to do whatever I could to help these incredible creatures who needed someone to speak up for them in times of neglect and abuse. They were in the middle of a huge seizure in Snohomish and King Counties of 27 horses who were starving and dying in their field. These women and horses touched my heart so deeply that 5 years later I am still heavily involved doing everything from donations of dollars, time, elbow grease, and creativity to training, being a spokesperson and checking up on fosters and adoptions. There’s always something that needs to be done and, unfortunately, always a horse in need – some we cannot help. We fall in love with each and every one of them.
I do have my own girl now, Calico Kitty. She was a rescue, although not through this organization. She came to me through a friend who had picked her up at the auction as a 2-year-old, extremely underweight, covered in lice and rainrot and with very little handling. She is now the most beautiful trail partner. We go everywhere. But her life could have ended at the auction. The economy is so horrible now that many, many horses are being dumped at the auction to be sold for meat. Many are in better and some in far worse condition than Kitty. It’s utterly heartbreaking to know that so many animals have no chance at all. And no, we cannot save them all.
With SAFE, I feel that we can help a few find their way to wonderful new homes. We also provide a lot of education to those who need to find a way to take better care and sometimes to take that last and most difficult step – letting their four-footed friends go. We have testified in court and seen some of the abusers sent to jail and told that they can no longer own animals. I wish I could say that things are improving . . . I’m hoping that in my lifetime I will see it so. Until then, I will continue to do whatever I can to help.
– Lynn M., Department of Judicial Administration