A Founders Message
The Gentle Barn – Main GateWe live in a concrete, violent, noisy, high tech, busy world. We have lost our connection to animals, to nature, and most of all, to ourselves. Animals are living lives of torment from beginning to end, their cries are unheard, their pain is unseen, and they are suffering. The rate of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes has never been higher. The rain forests are being destroyed, we are in a global drought, we are polluting our air, and species go extinct every day. But by having reverence for all life and by reconnecting with Mother Earth we each can change all that. At The Gentle Barn we stand up for the innocent, and we help animals and children alike remember that they matter. We open people’s hearts to the connections with nature. We open people’s minds to what is happening around us. And we inspire people to be an integral part of the solution. Through the stories and interactions with our animals, we can raise future generations to have reverence for all life, protect our planet, live good healthy, happy lives, and we will all be closer to having peace on earth!
We can’t do this work without you and are grateful for your support. Enjoy the website and check back with us from time to time to see what’s new. The best way to help is by making a donation, sponsoring an animal or sponsoring a group of school kids, at-risk kids or special-needs kids to come to The Gentle Barn.
Thank you so much for your support!
Ellie & Jay
A Brief History
Ellie Laks founded The Gentle Barn in 1999; it was a dream of hers since she was seven years old. Animals were always very healing and nurturing to her as she faced the challenges of growing up, finding herself, fitting in, feeling understood, etc. She majored in special education and psychology, and with her special love of animals and children, The Gentle Barn was a perfect way of putting all her talents and passions into one.
Jay Weiner joined The Gentle Barn in 2002 as a volunteer, but fell in love with the place and the two joined forces to heal even more children and animals together. Like Ellie, Jay also turned to animals for the support, love and nurturing he needed as a child.
The Gentle Barn started on a half-acre property in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, CA. In 2003 Ellie and Jay moved The Gentle Barn moved to a six-acre paradise in Santa Clarita, CA. The property is complete with large horse and cow pastures, a red and white barnyard for the smaller animals, an organic vegetable garden, lots of shade trees, and a panoramic view of gorgeous mountains. Their over one hundred and seventy rescued animals are safe and happy at The Gentle Barn, and there is plenty of room to welcome their visitors and the children they host.
In 2015 The Gentle Barn opened it’s second location in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is their goal to open Gentle Barns in every state so that everyone in America can hug a cow, cuddle a turkey, give a pig a tummy rub, look into the eyes of these animals and know for certain that we are all the same, and deserving of the same rights, respects, and freedoms. Since its inception, The Gentle Barn has been home to hundreds of animals and host to over 400,000 people.
Personal Story shared by Lisa Bagley-Heger
I sponsor a goat named Bella and a sheep named Shirley Temple. I go to visit them both almost every Sunday. Shirley Temple comes from some pretty severe abuse and has been very hesitant around strangers and she is kept in the back on Sunday’s when all the visitors come to the Gentle Barn. Since I am her sponsor they have been letting me bring her treats when I get there and spending some one on one time with her and we have formed a bond.
The head of the barnyard asked me last month if I would be willing to be Shirley’s docent and come out with her in the barnyard on Sundays to try and get her used to people. She felt that since Shirley Temple knew me and trusted me that she might be a little less nervous around strangers. We have been trying it out now every Sunday for the last month. While she is still very nervous she has been able to stay out a little longer each week. She still isn’t comfortable being touched by strangers but she knows that I will not let any harm come to her so she is a little more comfortable.
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