Samantha Gonzalez - Volunteer Spotlight

969.45 Hours Volunteered Since August of 2016

Three years ago I decided that, in addition to starting my first semester at Raritan Valley Community College, I wanted to start volunteering. I looked around online for where to go and I came across Mane Stream. I read about what they do and it sounded fascinating and fun, and so I signed up for the August Orientation and Training. From there, I signed up for my first session. I originally signed up for Tuesday and Saturday afternoons, to which the volunteer coordinator asked if I could come earlier on Saturday. At first, I was reluctant to wake up so early but decided that I would do it anyway because I was excited to be able to assist in the programs. Since that day, I have spent nearly every Saturday morning at Mane Stream.

            Mane Stream has changed my life in so many ways. From the participants to the volunteers to the staff, this place has become a second home for me. I came to Mane Stream with little horse experience. Because of this, I was a little lost in the barn during my first couple of weeks of volunteering. I am so thankful to all of the volunteers that were so nice in answering all of my questions and making me feel welcome. I must also say that it is such a great feeling to be around a bunch of people who just want to help, in any way they can. I have met some amazing people in the barn at Mane Stream and they inspire me to keep doing all that I can for others.

            Every day I come to volunteer, I work with participants that are constantly teaching me something new. Their perseverance and positive attitudes are some of the many things that keep me coming back. Whether it is an adaptive rider who has learned to weave through the cones independently or a therapy client who sat backwards on their moving pony for the first time, each day brings new victories because of the work they do here. I love that I get to watch the progress made by these participants week-to-week, and celebrate these victories with them.

            This September has presented a mixed basket of emotions for me. I am proud to say that after a successful few years at Raritan Valley, I am now transferring to the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom to complete my bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Although I am excited for the adventure that lies ahead, I am sad that I will be missing out on time spent at Mane Stream. I have made such great friends and experienced so many amazing things by coming here, and it is absolutely something I will miss while I am gone. I look forward to coming back over winter and summer breaks and seeing everyone very soon!

We miss you Sam but look forward to seeing you during the Holiday break!