September 14, 2018

MSSPA celebrates the hard work of volunteers by Jennifer Davis

Mary Ann Benson on the left

This past Sunday, the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA) was rocking as it welcomed its many volunteers to the farm to celebrate all their hard work over the past year.  This is not the first event at MSSPA to celebrate its volunteers but the first of this caliber.  This year’s event invited a pizza truck that baked pizzas for the volunteers to enjoy in a wood fired oven, awards, and even a plush horse favor for the volunteers to adopt. Over 45 of MSSPAs volunteers were in attendance and a great time was had by all.

MSSPA is a non-profit organization that offers refuge and rehabilitation for abused or neglected horses in Maine. The hope is that the horses that arrive on the farm are adopted but some of the horses live out the remainder of the lives at the farm. The horses are cared for by a compassionate staff and a large group of volunteers. 
“In 2017 alone, nearly 400 individuals volunteered over 10,000 hours, which represents 4.8 Full - Time Equivalent (FTE) employees that the Society would otherwise have to hire in order to continue operations,” said Erin Ludwig, Administrative Specialist for MSSPA.  “To celebrate the fabulous volunteer group that MSSPA has, MSSPA held this volunteer appreciation luncheon.” 

The volunteers complete a variety of work while they are at the farm, doing things such as cleaning the horse stalls, feeding the horses, haying fields, etc. When visiting the farm, it is clear that the volunteers have a great deal of passion for what they are doing, evident by the smiles on their faces and how serious they are about doing a good job for the horses.

Mary Ann Benson has been volunteering regularly at MSSPA for the past 11 months. “I retired in 2016 and decided I really wanted to work with animals after spending 45 years working with people in higher education and retail management,” said Benson. “I’ve always loved horses.”  Benson had previously volunteered with the Animal Rescue League as well. “My favorite experience working with the horses is getting to know their individual personalities and quirks,” said Benson. “It has been extremely rewarding watching them recover from the circumstances that brought them to MSSPA. It is truly my happy place,”

Sparky Hurgin on left
Sparky Hurgin has been a volunteer at MSSPA for the past 7 months.  After recently retiring he wanted to volunteer and with prior horse experience he thought MSSPA would be the perfect fit.  “My favorite part of volunteering at MSSPA is seeing the horses being cared for,” said Hurgin.  “Their recovery is phenomenal.” 

Hurkin was in attendance at this past weekend’s event. “Everyone is so appreciative of the volunteers making it such a welcoming place,” Hurgin said. “The volunteer event just highlights how much MSSPA truly appreciates us all.”

Meris J. Bickford, MSSPA CEO and Marilyn L. Goodreau, MSSPA Chairwoman Emeritus both made remarks at the volunteer appreciation luncheon to thank the volunteers.  Robert Sheckler, MSSPA Volunteer Coordinator handed out barn theme awards to some volunteers as well.
MSSPA is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to the public every day where visitors can tour the farm and meet the horses.  If you or anyone you know are interested in volunteering at MSSPA the volunteer application can be found online at  Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older to volunteer alone.  Anyone under the age of 16 will need to be accompanied by a parent.  If you or anyone you know are interested in donating to MSSPA you may do so on their website at

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