Refuge Farms home of "Horses Helping..."

The Dunn County News
April 30, 2006

   Well, hello there! Let me introduce myself! I'm Sandy Gilbert. My formal and business like title is executive director of a nonprofit organization based in Spring Valley called Refuge Farms.
   When you get to know me,you'll know that I'm not much for that formal kind of stuff. In fact, when people visit The Farm for the first time or I make a presentation or some how end up telling people about our mission, I usually refer to myself as "The Caretaker." Yup, that fits.
   Caretaker of what, you ask? Well, that's where I first need to tell you just what we do up here on this hill and then I'm sure you'll, understand just what it is that I am taking care of.
   Refuge Farms is unlike most nonprofit organiza- tions in this part of the country. You see, we couldn't be satisfied with a single mission. Oh, no! When the Declaration of Purpose was created for this venture, the document clearly defined two (yes, two) equally important yet distinct: missions.
   First, we rescue horses. But we're not like most rescues around these parts.
   We take in the horses that have no options: too sick to slaughter, too weak to survive the cold, too thin to be sold for meat and too abused for adoption or any type of "typical" use.
   Now, what do we do with this ragged herd of horses? Perfect question! That leads us to the second half of our mission.
   We offer these horses to the public free-of-charge. We offer these horses to human beings. We want people to enjoy the horses, love the horses, relate to the horses, talk to the horses, and just in general, be with the horses.
   People of all ages come to spend time here. People of all abilities come here. People of all walks of life come here. And people in all stages of their life's journey come here.We only ask that respect be given every creature on the property human and horse like.
   When someone visits The Farm and "the connection" happens, we call it the Magic of Refuge Farms. "It" is that unconditional acceptance that occurs when two beings learn to trust and to listen - really listen, not just hear! "It" is the joy of knowing that some living creature is always happy to see you and runs up to you every time you arrive! "It" is the contentment that comes from human interaction and friendship. "It" is that indescribable warm feeling inside when you get hugs real hugs when you must say so long.
   It is the bonding and healing that occur when two creatures sense mutual respect, trust and acceptance from each other. And it is the recovery that occurs, in tiny steps, when these creatures realize that there is no judgment or criticism, only unconditional love between them. The power or such a thing can be overwhelming.
   So, now you know what I am the caretaker of and its mission a mission to take the rejected horses that truly have no options and love them and shelter them and heal them;and then allow human beings to find them and in turn be loved, ,sheltered and healed themselves.
   I love my Job! Lucky me to be surrounded by recovery and healing and the joy of doing something good! I'll be here every once in a while telling stories in this column. My stories will make you laugh, sometimes. They may make you wince, sometimes. And they may make you cry, sometimes. But, hopefully, my stories will make you feel, everytime.
   Venture out to The Farm and you'll find me taking care.

Enjoy the journey of each and every day.
Sandy and The Herd
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