March 29, 2017 Cloudy, 42F

Marengo horse rescue farm kicks off fundraiser

MARENGO – A nonprofit horse rescue group is kicking off its first fundraiser of the year with cookies and hot cocoa this weekend.

Located at 1404 Busse Road in Marengo, Destination Safe Haven will be open to the public from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday for the “Cookies & Cocoa” event. It’s the third annual fundraising event for the horse rescue and retirement farm. But Sunday’s event also marks the group’s first fundraiser as an official nonprofit organization.

Although Destination Safe Haven has been around since 2006, it wasn’t until last October that the Internal Revenue Service approved its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, which means more funding and donation opportunities.

The new tax status allows for tax-deductible contributions and exempts the group from certain federal and state taxes.

For example, under the 501(c)3 designation, Destination Safe Haven is exempt from taxes when buying monthly feed and other supplies to provide care for the animals.

Co-founders Jennifer Finkelman and Deb Novak, before the official nonprofit status, ran the Marengo equine rescue and rehabilitation farm mainly out of their own pockets, offset by donations, revenue from the farm’s animal boarding services, and volunteers.

Destination Safe Haven is home to about 20 animals, many rescued from abuse and neglect. Since 2006, 25 horses have been rescued, and 10 horses have been rehabilitated and placed in new homes. Some of the animals were brought to the farm by their previous owners for financial reasons.

Winter typically is a rough season for the horses and their owners, Finkelman said.

She and Novak have fielded numerous calls from horse owners inquiring about giving up their horses to Destination Safe Haven.

“It seems to get worse as the economy gets worse,” she said.

Gabrielle Henderson of Wheaton recently adopted Reign, a 25-year-old quarterhorse mare. Reign’s previous owners couldn’t afford to provide adequate care.

Henderson, who visits the farm every other Sunday, also helps Finkelman and Novak with fundraising plans.

“We have to take a more aggressive approach on our fundraising,” Henderson said. “We’re trying to work on a [motorcycle run] in the summer. So brand-new events are in the works.”

The goal is to raise awareness about the group and draw more sponsorships and adoptions.

“[The horses] don’t ask for anything, just treats,” Henderson said. “And you don’t need to take them home. ... [Destination Safe Haven] can always used more help on the weekends. It’s not just cleaning stalls, but others needs, like repairing fences.”

If you go

What: Destination Safe Haven’s “Cookies & Cocoa” fundraiser.
When: 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Safe Haven farm, 1404 Busse Road in Marengo.

Treats to feed the horses are available for $1 a bag.

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