BANGOR, Maine — It has been about five years since Joyce Pomeroy ended her career as an emergency medical technician and firefighter, but some of her retirement days are now longer than those she spent working as a full-time employee.
“This is my whole life now,” said the co-founder and operator of Last Stop Horse Rescue in Prentiss. “I get up around 4 and then go out and get on a tractor and get the hay bales and get grain and water and other stuff done, and I finish around 4 or 5, and then I get to spend time with the animals.”
“This” is a 20-acre equine rescue facility licensed by the state of Maine that provides a safe haven and rehabilitation operation for abandoned, starved, neglected or abused horses.
The nonprofit facility, which Pomeroy has operated with sister Nonie Jenkins for five years, held its first benefit bake sale Saturday at Tractor Supply Co. on outer Broadway to raise much-needed funding.
“It’s unreal, the support we’ve had today,” Pomeroy said moments after two TSC customers wheeled over two 10-pound salt licks and a dispenser tray and donated them to the rescue. “We’ve raised a lot of money and awareness, and we got a lot of help from businesses like Dunkin’ Donuts, Hannaford, Foxcroft Veterinary and Penobscot Job Corps.”
With 14 horses, eight miniature horses, four goats and two dogs adopted from local animal shelters now living at the Last Stop farm, no donation is too big or small for the sisters.
“We’ve paid for a lot of the things we need, but with so many horses now at our place, we felt it was time to do some kind of fundraiser, and the response has been great,” said Jenkins, who is also a physical education teacher at Bangor’s Doughty Middle School. “Our only limit is really financial, and that’s why we’re doing this bake sale.”
The sisters say creating and operating Last Stop is answering a calling for both of them.
“When I heard about horse rescues, I actually contacted the state to ask what I could do to help out,” Jenkins said. “I found out it’s better to provide a place that’s safe for horses to be relocated.
“Now, with Joyce, I feel like I have a mission in life that we can do together, and this will go on for a long time.”
Especially if Saturday’s donations of money and supplies — $1,400 in cash and everything from salt licks to anti-worming medications — are any indication of the extent of public support.
“I think we’ll be doing some more of these,” Pomeroy said with an appreciative grin.
The name of the sisters’ rescue, which employs the Parelli Natural Horsemanship rehabilitation program based on love, language and leadership, came from the first horse they rescued. Emma still lives at the farm.
“Five years ago, I stopped working and got this little pony, and she was abused and had been in seven homes,” Pomeroy recalled. “I said, ‘This is going to be her last stop,’ and that’s where the name came from.”
So far, Last Stop has placed four horses with new owners.
“What I’m trying to do is to find them a good home with someone who wants them as much as they want to be wanted,” Pomeroy said. “The hardest thing for me is to let go and trust these horses with someone else.”
It’s all about love and caring, both sisters say.
“Basically, they just want to be loved, and love doesn’t take a lot of time,” Jenkins said. “I have such a natural love for horses that being around them and helping them feel good and regain trust is a really good feeling for me.”
For more information, go to www.laststophorserescue.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, call 951-4937 or 659-4657, or write to 938 TarRidge Road, Prentiss 04487. Monetary donations may be made to Last Stop Horse Rescue through the Lincoln Federal Credit Union.