Every day from 8 am to 5 pm Barn Volunteers assist staff with the mucking, cleaning, watering, feeding, grooming and management of our horses. Volunteers are given responsibilities according to their level of experience and offered opportunities to grow in their abilities. Barn volunteers work alongside our Barn Staff, Assistant Farm Manager, Farm Manager, and Volunteer Coordinator.
This month, we introduce you & let you get to know Barn Volunteer (& foster parent), Linda Schwartz, in her own words.
“I first got involved with DEFHR in 2002. Years before when my son, Dana, was in high school I noticed a small article in the Baltimore Sun. Then I started sending in small donations, whatever I could afford as a single parent. When Dana graduated from college and went to graduate school, I knew I was free to pursue other interests. I had a choice whether to spend time at the neighboring race track or drive 30 miles down the road to Days End to have a more hands on experience.
The most surprising thing that I found at DEFHR was how much interest the horses seem to have in people, and the other equally surprising thing to me was how much effort and individual attention is happily put in to ensure the safety and health of the horses living at the farm.
The people I have met here seem to be wise beyond their years, full of laughter and joy, intelligent and devoted to the long term best interest of the horses under their care. Somehow on a routine basis they are able to put the needs of others before their own and do so happily.
My strongest belief about DEFHR is that you will, with time and devotion, become a better person than when you first arrived.
My first memory of a DEFHR horse was a small gray pony who had a paddock to herself. She was very stoic and I was informed that she was unresponsive to people and the attention given her. I went in to clean her paddock. She remained in the corner and did not even bother to look directly at me until I went to clean near her feet. What at that time looked like a hopeless case to a beginner’s eyes, ended in her finding a home with a little girl who gave her much love and affection that, from the picture, was obviously returned in great measure. Her name is on the tip of my tongue.
I wish that all people knew how unique, sociable and even affectionate horses can be, that they are not just animals who do what we ask them to do, but by their very existence they have a unique way of helping us better ourselves.
To be a volunteer at DEFHR is great because it takes me away from the place where most problems are fixed by someone else, and where I become the problem solver. Though I am not strong enough to do farm operations, I utilize problem solving skills when it comes to handling horses, where problems can arise at any moment with any companion, no matter how trusted. It has taught me to be more gentle, more encouraging and best of all, more thoughtful. It has taught me to seek knowledge from every corner.
I have been a foster parent since the fall of 2003 and I have parented SoBeit, Yani, Tabu, Muddy, Yahoo, Bali and am currently a foster parent of Isaac and Bam Bam. I am hoping I have not missed anyone.
I am a significant other to Jim Zittle for 25 years and have one son, named Dana, who was 37 on March 9. I am a substitute grandparent to Justin Magee, a 13 yr old bean sprout who just this year suddenly shot up to be a head taller than myself. I own one fire breathing cat named Patches. I was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland where you can walk to just about everywhere and from where a lot of my inspiration still comes and for 40 plus years now live as a Western Maryland transplant in Baltimore.
Someone might be surprised to know that I am very shy and that I did not quit cutting my own grass until I retired and started spending time with horses at DE2.
When not volunteering at DEFHR, I still work 2 days a week at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where I have been for the last 37 years with the same boss, who is about 15 years older than I and who is a terrific role model for men and women, young and old, everywhere.”