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The Dunn County News
January 28, 2007

The State of The Farm Address: 'We are growing!'

   We are growing!
   As Ole' Blue Eyes would croon, "It was a very good year!"    Disclosure of the 2006 numbers at the recent State of The Farm annual meeting made it clear that we are growing and growing fast! Let me share some of our numbers with you...
   The increase in donations from The Friends of THE FARM was 58 percent over that same number in 2005. The increase in event net income was significant as well, primarily because we hosted or participated in 21 events in 2006. No wonder it seemed like something was always going on! The event net income increased by 34 percent over that same number in 2005.
   The expenditures, however, increased by only 7 percent over 2005. In this economy, most organizations would be ecstatic to present that accomplishment! And let me be the first to tell you, it was difficult and sacrifices were made to hold expenses like we did - especially in a year when fuel costs were doubled and the price of hay increased by leaps and bounds. But we did it and we did it without sacrificing the safety of any people or any cares of The Herd.
   As a result, our deficit was reduced by 54 percent to $17,340. This may still seem significant to you and believe me, it is! The goal is obviously to not have a deficit at all. However, when I comprehend the growth that has occurred in order to achieve all of these numbers, it causes me to pause.
   How and where have we grown? Suffice it to say, we've grown literally everywhere!
   Our network of supporters, whom we call "Friends of The Farm," is growing with each event, with each public opening, and with each article in The Dunn County News. We have reached many and are accomplishing our stated goal - to make you feel something. Whether it be laughter or tears, Refuge Farms encourages us to feel and let it show for all the world to see. And this opportunity to publish our story is a significant factor in our growth and ability to do just that.
   Another key factor in our growth is the expansion of our volunteer network, which we call "The Other Herd." I continue to tell you the naked truth when I tell you that without the volunteers, there is no Refuge Farms. I cannot be more honest than that. One single number supports that statement: In 2006, these volunteers gave more than 6,800 hours of their time to Refuge Farms!
   And this group of volunteers is attracting others who are willing to give and care and work hard at spreading the missions. It is an absolute thrill to host a training class and see our new members become a part of the fold. It is a testimonial to the quality of our volunteers that I receive compliments on the their politeness and their cares from the visiting public. I feel like a mother hen with her chicks as I watch this assembly of people develop and grow. And I am proud of every single one.
   Refuge Farms has also grown due to corporate support from local businesses. Whether it be the sponsorship of an event at THE FARM, the hosting of one of our fabulous breakfasts, financial support for a clothes or food drive, or the use of a warm, well-equipped room for our a meeting, our ability to reach the public is improved and made a bit easier due to this corporate support. And, until we grow enough to build a new building, we are grateful for the use of these warm, comfortable facilities.
   And finally, Refuge Farms continues to growth due to faith. Plain and simple, we believe in what we do. We believe that it is a good thing to rescue the dying ones, the horses with no options, the horses that are sickly or old or too thin for anyone else to want. We find them in those desperate situations where anger and illness and cruelty exist. Taking them from these dark places, we believe that it is good to love them and heal them and care for them as best as we can. And then, we believe it is a good thing to open our doors to share them with anyone who will come - and to share them freely without an admission or membership fee.
   We believe that in doing this, we become better people ourselves. And these horses, that out of sheer respect we call ministers, continue to show anyone who comes to see them what respect and forgiveness and trust and playfulness looks like. Each and every day they teach us how to protect one another, they show us how to freely play, they illustrate their trust and respect for a human being much like the one that hurt them just a short while ago; and they show us how to forgive and openly love. It is these life lessons, this connection, this magic, that all of our work is for. It is this - when it happens - that makes the numbers seem unimportant.
   And it is this magic that causes me to rejoice and to work so hard. For you see, this mission called Refuge Farms is why I was born. I know that. And so for this mission to grow as it has and to reach out as we do and to have the numbers support our growth affirms my confidence that we are on the right path. It gives me energy to continue.
   And knowing that even though the struggle is long from over, I know that soon we will attain a "black" business profile. And I know that needed doors will continue to open, and the work will pay off and lives will be better because we were here. And someone will heal after being here. How do I know that? Like I said, it's that faith thing.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day in The Spirit of The Season,
Sandy and The Herd
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