We used to be a tiny little speck in the rescue world. One horse here, another there, as a team of one, two, three, four. . .
“The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant.”
Beginning with nothing and finding everything, making connections, building a network. . .and more importantly, meaningful relationships and partnerships are not only what Heart of Phoenix was founded on, it is the only reason we are here today as you see us.
I am not naturally optimistic, but I do believe in some things deeply. I am a person of action. And I’ve long felt, if shown a clear path, others will believe in and act on these things, too.
And we aren’t really a little rescue at all anymore. We are, based on capacity and number of active volunteers, one of the larger rescues in the United States, and we are successful at what we do in the poorest part of our nation.
But man, let me tell you, what this region lacks in economics, we have in heart and in the desire to help. . .
This next part is key: While we depend on our individual donors; this rescue was been built on and runs as a large scale advocacy organization – to a great extent – because of horse people who give their time and talent for countless hours each day, and sometimes, also by lending a lot of their blood, sweat and tears, as much as we do. We will grow with national partnerships like we have developed with organizations like the Right Horse, TAA and the ASPCA, we know that connecting with the equine industry’s love of the horse will always allow us to go further and further for horses.
Dozens (sometimes many, many dozens) of horse people across the Eastern United States (sometimes beyond that) give thousands of hours a month transporting, feeding, watering, grooming, bathing, tending, walking, vetting, trimming, training, networking, record keeping, updating, posting, fundraising, marketing, editing, designing, photographing, blogging, videoing, riding, calling, screening, meeting, emailing, building and . . . yes, even burying and crying.
Almost every single aspect of Heart of Phoenix that runs effectively does so on volunteer labor. Sure, even mine. I believe in paid staff, an organization that grows and is so well funded, it has enough employees to run as non-profit for decades, but personally, I wanted to be an example of how people will give, even when they do not have, because they want to. Sure, I have and had a personal situation that allowed it, but of course, it still costs me greatly. I wanted to give my time for as long as I can. Just like so many others give theirs, as much as they can.
I had someone tell me once at an equine advocacy conference very sure of herself, “Trainers will not train horses for free,” and I responded, “But they will, though,” and the truth is, just like doctors give their time to people in desperate need all of the time, just as attorneys give pro-bono services to worthy cases and causes, just as countless professionals give and give, Yes, trainers DO give to horses. It was so sad to hear someone suggest that people who work with horses day in and out as unwilling to turn and help them. It doesn’t mean they can give everything, always, every single time, but Yes, they can give sometimes. And they do.
Things change because many individuals decide to give time, talent and money to a cause. It is how things of meaning happen, and I always knew horse people would give. . . not because they have so much extra in money, but because they love horses. We give what we are able to what we love, don’t we?
The value of what people collectively give in time and services to the horses at Heart of Phoenix is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. While we would not survive without our donors and grantors, we could impact far fewer horses if trainers, vets, accountants, attorneys, photographers, web designers, grant writers, marketing and public relations experts, financial advisers, boarding facility owners, horse owners and others were not constantly willing to – in their lives – decide that giving to horses in desperate need was the right choice because of the impact they want to make in the world we live in, we share.
It is hard to wrap my head around that as I sit down to write this, though. There is so much given. It seems like just the other day, I was trudging along, barely knowing anything at all about what rescue would cost (everything, in case you wondered, it costs everything) or horses, frankly. I just wanted to change what was in front of me. And I knew I could never do it alone.
As I look back, that very rough path is what made me look around for the helpers, see them and be thankful for them, and always work hard to keep them. Folks, a day does not pass that I am not aware that the work of this rescue rests on the shoulders of hundreds of people along the way. Some for a while, some for all the time we have been, some for most of it, some we still need to find and wrangle in, but I know what you all give. And having started out without you ALL, it would be hard to find anyone who appreciates what you have given, given now and will give in the future.
Pictured back in January 2011, is one of the first horses we rescued before we were “We,” actually. The second is Bogey today in his adoptive home. The next are just snapshots of where “We” are now, 500 horses later.
At Heart of Phoenix, we are so thankful for our national partner network of equine professionals, including trainers, farriers, vets, boarding barns and sponsors, as their partnerships help us all create unity for the horse industry.
We have partnered with the RIGHT HORSE Initiative, to improve the lives of horses in transition + massively increase horse adoption in the United States. The Right Horse Mission resonated with us because it was about collaboration, and we were built on that! We are Good People for Good Horses.
Heart of Phoenix has partnered with the RIGHT HORSE Initiative, to improve the lives of horses in transition + massively increase horse adoption in the United States. The Right Horse Mission resonated with us because it was about collaboration, and we were built on that! We are Good People for Good Horses.