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2018 Volunteer of the Year: Susie Newlon

Susie Shares Her Passion

There are moments we wish every person could enjoy or experience. These moments become memories, stories and daily reminders for me as to why I volunteer. I’ll never forget the time I held Majesty while Lea introduced him to a tiny, visually impaired, little boy on oxygen. Majesty stood very still while he blew the little guy’s hair softly through his nostrils. These are the moments.

My father was a neurosurgeon who adored his patients. That is where my love of people began, young and old alike, and those with special needs or challenges – working with them became my calling. Early in my life, I started volunteering at a children’s hospital. As time went on, I volunteered in nursing homes. While I pursued my degree in psychology, I volunteered at McLean, a Harvard-affiliated psychiatric hospital.

The joy I found in these experiences led me to choose a career in social work where I worked with children who had both mental and physical challenges, who were often neglected or disadvantaged. I was a social worker for the Division of Child Guardianship in Massachusetts and the Neighborhood Youth Corps in Oklahoma before relocating to Naples where I started a career in real estate.

Growing up, I rode horses as much as I could, both English and Western. I grew to love them for their gentle spirits and their uncanny ability to sense feelings, mood and their surroundings. After I retired, I decided to visit NTRC to see if I would like to volunteer there. Missy welcomed me with a warm greeting and beautiful smile. That, and the welcoming, peaceful environment was all it took to convince me this was a perfect fit to give back after retirement. I now volunteer three days a week. I’m a sidewalker, a horse leader, and volunteer at training sessions and fundraisers. I work in the barn cleaning and feeding the horses, and I exercise Tacoma, who is my favorite horse!

I am honored to have been chosen Volunteer of the Year. I get so much more from NTRC than I could ever give back. Horse person or not, I would recommend volunteering at NTRC to anyone who wants

Author Naples Therapeutic Riding Center

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