BY ELLEN DUPUY
During such uncertain times in which all are experiencing a global pandemic, the horse rescue, Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary, also known as AGES, located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, does not have any other choice but to continue their mission: To offer a safe haven for unwanted, abused, or neglected horses. Providing shelter, nutrition, vet and farrier care, and most importantly, unconditional love and attention. Once overall health, well-being and soundness of a horse is accomplished, they are assessed for possible placement and adoption to a qualified owner.
AGES was established in 2009 by Erin Kelley-Groth, someone with a dream and now someone with a dream come true. Like most, her love affair with horses began at age 11. This passion has since grown into a philanthropic devotion that she and her husband, John, spend their days doing together with the help of several very dedicated and hard working volunteers. AGES has rescued over 200 horses and just in the month of March 2020 the sanctuary swiftly rescued two local neglect cases. While the globe is in the middle of a crisis, AGES continues to be the good in a world that seems to have an ‘out of order’ sign hanging from it.
Last year marked the rescue’s tenth year and they are happy to say they took their Verified status to Accredited status by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) in December 2019. This has been a goal of AGES for ten years with everything coming together within the last two years. They are the first equine sanctuary in the midwest to be Accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. This proves that not all sanctuaries are created equally and having the GFAS Accreditation badge of honor shows the high quality of their permanent long term policies, facility, inner team, and volunteers. They take great pride in the amount of work that has been put into the rescue to make it what it is today and look forward to continuing the mission while continuously bettering the sanctuary.
AGES’ annual fundraiser, Hope for Hooves, typically is held the second Saturday in August, this year will mark their eleventh year. This event has become the most successful fundraiser of the year. Hundreds of people come out to enjoy the warm summer weather at the rescue. The band is so perfect, the food is delicious, the silent auction is massive, vendors come from all over to participate, the children’s activities are fantastic, but the beautiful environment is what puts it over the top. The horses, the volunteers running from place to place to help each other, and their smiles while doing it all is what makes the event so worthwhile. You can just feel the love they have to better the lives of the horses. That’s what makes this event so special, the sense of community, love, and affection for the mission. AGES will see what this year brings, but are planning on August 15th for the eleventh annual Hope for Hooves fundraiser.
AGES internal team consists of Erin Kelley-Groth, Founder and Executive Director and her husband, John Groth, Co-Founder and Director of Operations. Together they have melded a group of passionate equine experts that assist at the sanctuary on a regular basis. Chelsea Harley, Director of Training and Rehabilitation, puts her heart and soul into the betterment of the horses and their surroundings. Her knowledge on the animals will make you wonder if she is a veterinarian, she is that knowledgeable. Lex Dennis, CVT, Administrative Manager, helps keep the books up to date and accurate all with such a positive attitude. Shannon Madden, Surrender Intake Coordinator, goes near and far to pick up the horses in need to bring them back to the rescue, she will drop what she is doing to go on a pick up mission. Fran Kerrigan, Pet Finder, Facebook Manager and Photographer, manages our Facebook page which has a following of almost 13K followers. She takes gorgeous photos of the positive and the hardships that come with having a rescue of any kind. Tina Rautmann, Volunteer Coordinator, has done an amazing job. She hosts a volunteer orientation the second Saturday of every month. She also spearheaded a summer children’s horse etiquette learning camp in 2019 and it was a great success. The rescue makes volunteering worthwhile and creates a community feeling amongst everyone. Helene Capizzi, is our very talented and gracious grant writer, as well as our correspondence director. We are very lucky to have her. Last but not least, the Board of Directors, meet monthly, and now virtually, to keep the rescue and its mission the focus.
Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary wouldn’t be what it is today without the hard work and dedication of the people listed previously, but also the community of supporters and adopters that keep the rescue going financially. Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary is a true sanctuary/rescue that provides humane and responsible care of the animals. They have accomplished a lot thus far, but the work is far from over.