From a small farm in remote Prentiss, one woman’s gentle devotion to animals is reverberating in widening circles of hope across the state and beyond, benefiting multiple species, including humans.
The first part of my report on the Last Stop Horse Rescue introduced the extraordinary relationship between owner Joyce Pomeroy and three dozen rescue animals, mostly horses, that live on her farm. Here is a look at how genuine kindness can propagate like dandelions in a meadow.
Joyce does not operate money-making ventures on her animal rescue farm. She has trouble turning down animals in need, and when people need help, she helps for free.
“I’m not a good businessperson,” Joyce said.
I respectfully disagree. It is because of the strength of Joyce’s dedication that veterinary surgeons have provided their services free of charge. Last Stop Horse Rescue’s donor page tells the story of the many people and businesses who have offered time, money and services to aid the organization. In a mutually beneficial arrangement, 30 veterinary technician students from the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus visit Joyce’s farm every fall to receive instruction and hands-on training. They draw blood, check weights, give injections and examine all of her horses.
As I understand it, Joyce’s business plan is to spread awareness of unnecessary suffering in our fellow creatures and to offer help to the wounded. By that measure, her business is way in the black.
“The rescue is for healing — and not just for horses,” she said.
Joyce has had young people with disabilities visit her horses. She watched one of them, tense and guarded, slowly relax around the animals and throw her arms around a horse.
Last Mother’s Day, a young woman showed up at the farm unexpectedly, offering to help brush the horses. Joyce struck up a conversation, and eventually her visitor explained herself.
“She shared that her mother had passed away,” Joyce said. “She was divorced, and her ex was remarried. She felt alone and lost, and [she] headed up here to be with the horses. I felt so thankful that I was home to greet her. … I believe she drove home feeling peaceful.”
Joyce’s farm exudes a healing atmosphere that catches the attention. One woman who found herself moved by Joyce’s work at Last Stop Horse Rescue is Susan Mullaney, director of marketing and communications for the University of Maine Alumni Association. Susan met Joyce through a mutual friend and started reading the animal rescue stories on the Last Stop Horse Rescue website.
“These stories are so great and full of hope, plus the message of responsibility and commitment to animals is so well put across,” she said.
Susan proposed she and Joyce collaborate to create an illustrated children’s book based on the stories of the animals that live at the Last Stop Horse Rescue. Joyce, a natural oral storyteller, enthusiastically shared the stories Susan put in writing.
“I sat down and wrote it in a week,” Susan said. “The stories formed a pattern. There are lessons learned from each animal.”
A third member of the book team, an avid horse advocate and friend of Joyce, is Deb Lindsay, a professional artist who offered her artwork for the book. The original goal for the book simply was to raise funds for horse rescue. Then Joyce got bigger ideas. She wanted to read the book to children at the hospital so they would know people care and want to help.
“I think of kids who’ve been beaten or hurt and are fearful,” Joyce said. “Maybe they can find hope in these stories.”
The book, titled “Believe in Miracles,” has become the center of “The Miracle Book Project,” an effort to provide copies of the book to children in hospitals, libraries, day care centers and shelters all over the country. Through stories about grief, loss, anger and acceptance, the book seeks to convey — especially to those convinced they are “not good enough” — that every individual has worth. The hope of “the miracle book team” of Joyce, Susan and Deb is that the stories of compassion toward animals will translate to compassionate treatment of people as well.
“Every living thing deserves respect and care and help,” Susan said. “This was a way to take the spirit of what Joyce is doing to a wider audience.”
“Believe in Miracles” is not yet released, but you may read excerpts and learn more about the project at miraclebookproject.org.
Robin Clifford Wood welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.