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Volunteering is good for the soul

""Rescuing horses is not for the lazy or faint of heart. It’s grueling, dirty work. You go home at the end of each day with sweat-soaked clothes, manure-covered boots and grimy fingernails. Why on earth would you do it for free?

I ask myself constantly why any volunteer would come back, week after week, to work and sweat as hard as I do (or harder). Don’t get me wrong; I’m also a volunteer. I don’t get paid a penny. (In fact, I’m a volunteer who pays the rescue upwards of $2,000 a month to work 10 to 12 hours a day.)

""But Swingin’ D Horse Rescue is my vision and mission. I have to make it succeed. Our committed volunteers truly do it out of the goodness of their hearts  – to give formerly doomed horses the comfortable life they deserve.

I can’t pay volunteers. I can’t provide many perks or frills. What I can do is provide a safe, respectful working environment and shower volunteers with heartfelt gratitude every chance I get. The real payoff comes with watching a horse blossom from hopeless to happy and hopeful – thanks to our volunteers’ hard work.

""

We’ve seen volunteers come and go at Swingin’ D. We understand. It’s hard work and commitment, and life is busy enough without having to drive into the country to get sweaty and stinky. We’re grateful for whatever time someone is willing to put in the work. But for those who’ve stuck around and who keep coming back – no matter how hard the work or how high the expectations – we hold a special place of gratitude. We need more people just like them.

What makes an outstanding volunteer?

This Forbes article describes some volunteers as zombies and vampires that sap productivity and energy. They don’t last long around the ‘D. We’ve noticed that the volunteers who do stick around share certain characteristics that make them invaluable. First and foremost, our strongest volunteers motivate themselves. That means they see opportunities for improvement wherever they look, regardless of whether the chores are on their list. They’re the ones who strive to leave the rescue in better shape than it was when they arrived.

Forbes identified these 7 Traits of Amazing Volunteers:

  1. Results driven – the “GSD” mindset. They contribute to success, attracting new ideas, new people and new opportunities.
  2. Passionate professionalism – always bring their A Game in attitude and work ethic.
  3. Collaborative mindset – tackle problems with ideas and solutions.
  4. Make no excuses – stick to their commitments with zero “flake factor”. Reliable and rock steady for the horses that need them.
  5. Constant champions – always singing the praises of the rescue and mission.
  6. Energizers – like a spark plug, volunteers who spread enthusiasm and joy.
  7. It’s a match – Like JFK said, “Ask not what {Swingin’ D] can do for you. Ask what you can do for Swingin’ D.” These volunteers aren’t looking for a personal benefit. They derive benefit from the next chore.

Are you right for Swingin’ D?

We’re not looking for perfect people and we don’t expect our volunteers to be perfect, but we do have certain standards on which we don’t compromise. If you see yourself in the above characteristics and you feel you meet our requirements, Swingin’ D needs you. We have volunteers who come one day a week and others who come four or five days a week. We have volunteers who contribute from home – contacting sponsors, sewing blankets or washing rags. Your schedule is up to you. All we ask is that you let us know before you come out, as the rescue is also our home.

We have a tentative orientation set for Saturday, September 14 from noon to 3.

Our training and orientation takes some time – which is time we’re not able to spend caring for horses. We ask that you ensure you’re ready to commit and begin volunteering before you fill out an application. If you’re not ready to get started right away, we’ll have more training sessions in the near future, so be sure to like us on Facebook and watch for new dates.