Day of Caring: ‘Every day is a good day to give back’

Ann Phelps was an aerospace worker turned field hand for a day, muscling old metal fence posts out of the ground.

Margarita Zamora de Lopez has a parts receiving job, but spent Friday with a paintbrush in hand.

And rather than his usual work in shipping, Alberto Duarte toiled in the sun to remove and fix old fencing.

All three are employees of Damar Aerosystems, a division of Senior Aerospace, in Monroe. On Friday, they were part of a volunteer force of about 500 people helping with United Way of Snohomish County’s Days of Caring.

“This is hard work,” said Sara Haner, United Way’s communications and events manager, as she watched the Damar team paint, repair and clean up at All Breed Equine Rez-Q, a Tulalip area horse rescue center.

“You guys are heaven-sent,” said Dale Squeglia, president of the nonprofit that now shelters 20 animals — horses, miniature horses and donkeys — on 18 acres leased from the Marsyville School District.

Squeglia, who lives on the property, said most of the animals have been given up by owners who can’t care for them. “The majority are not adoptable,” Squeglia said. All Breed Equine Rez-Q is a sanctuary where she hopes most of the animals will live out their lives. The nonprofit is always in need of volunteers for chores that may include working with horses or doing maintenance on buildings and fences.

This year’s 22nd annual Days of Caring, Friday and Saturday, included 38 teams helping with 28 projects in 11 cities around Snohomish County, Haner said.

Those projects included exterior cleanup and planting at the Boys &Girls Club in Granite Falls; work with EarthCorps on wetlands at Union Slough in Everett and Edmonds Marsh; and helping Friends of the Olde Everett Train Station with planting, painting and maintenance at Depot Park near the former station on Bond Street.

“This is one of the favorite events we do. It speaks to the heart of United Way,” Haner said. Days of Caring helpers, she said, exemplify a slogan the organization uses: “When you reach out a hand to one, you influence the condition of all.”

At All Breed Equine Rez-Q, on 116th Street NE near the Washington State Patrol district headquarters, painted fences are the work of United Way volunteers in previous years. On Friday, Zamora de Lopez and co-workers Rose Thomas and Suzanne Romero gave a fresh coat of white paint to stall-like structures Squeglia described as “cross ties,” or places where horses are groomed.

“This is different from our jobs. We get to talk to each other,” Zamora de Lopez said.

In a field away from the road, Phelps used a heavy jack-like device to dislodge old fence posts from the dirt. At her real job in Monroe, the Gold Bar woman uses air tools for deburring parts that include airplane wing skins. Friday was her first time volunteering with Days of Caring, but she has been involved with other groups that help animals.

Monroe’s Lori Stickland doesn’t work for Damar Aerosystems, but was at the horse rescue center helping with a friend who does. She was hauling piles of weeds to a compost area.

Noting that Friday was the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she recalled “I was just getting ready for work when that happened.” Now, Strickland said, Sept. 11 is “a good day to give back.”

“Every day is a good day to give back,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

Learn more

All Breed Equine Rez-Q is a nonprofit horse rescue organization that shelters about 20 horses and donkeys on 18 acres leased from the Marysville School District at 2415 116th St. NE, Marysville. To volunteer or for more information: or 425-263-6390.

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