Facility for rescue horses ‘rescued’ by army of volunteers

Combining your passion with your work seems an ideal, far-fetched goal for many people. This was fortunately not the case for Heidi Sandrev from Decorative Paints in Strongsville, Ohio. As Manager of the Application Research Center as well as President and co-founder of the Angels Haven Horse Rescue, she recently combined her passion for horses and animals with her belief in teambuilding and the company’s commitment to community service.

Angels Haven Horse Rescue is a not for profit volunteer organization that provides care for abused, abandoned, neglected, aged and unwanted horses and also carefully arranges adoptions. Heidi and a friend started the organization in 2006 after the emergency rescue of two mares and two foals pointed out an unmet need for horse rescue services. ‘Most rescue horses are emaciated, and it takes a lot of work to return them to good health,’ she explains. ‘Our volunteers believe strongly in bringing them back to their highest potential. By nursing them to health and socializing them with other horses and with humans, we are increasing their marketability and they are more likely to be adopted. It’s a labor of love and passion’

Volunteers also work with 4H clubs and other community groups to educate people about the proper care of horses and to generally raise public awareness of horses and the organization itself. As a result of their efforts, Angels Haven has rescued 39 horses since its founding.

Angels Haven operates out of a small farm in Grafton, Ohio. And because the horses’ needs always come first for the volunteers, there’s usually little time to devote to general upkeep of the facility. But Heidi saw an opportunity to get her colleagues involved – not only to help Angels Haven but to build camaraderie outside the office on a cross-functional basis. So she presented a proposal to the Community Program and soon had recruited about 50 colleagues from Northeast Ohio.

Over a two-week period in late summer, the army of volunteers went to work. It was a huge job as the barn needed repairing and painting, a shed was assembled and stained, fences stained and the grounds were cleaned up and many more jobs had to be done. All equipment, tools and materials as well as the paint were financed from the Community Program and the volunteering team donated their time and energy. ‘Everybody came in with a lot of energy to get a lot accomplished, and we made quite a difference in a short time’, says Heidi. ‘Our regular volunteer base couldn’t have achieved this much so quickly.’ She adds, ‘I’m proud to say I was involved – proud to say I work for a company that prides itself on being philanthropic. AkzoNobel really does make a difference in the community. I can’t stress enough how grateful the organization is. The board and volunteers are incredibly appreciative of the support provided by our volunteering employees with support from the Community Program.’

And last but not least the horses: if they could talk like the legendary ‘Mister Ed’, some of them no doubt would say thank you to Heidi and her 50 colleagues from Decorative Paints for being their ‘angels to the rescue’!