Gentle Barn Struggles To Recover
Buckweed fire burns, but doesn’t destroy non-profit foundation
Gentle Barn, which is located on Sierra Highway, was founded in 1999 by Ellie R. Laks and Jay L. Weiner, and is home to sixty rescued animals, including horses, sheep, chicken, pigs, cows, and turkeys. The foundation brings children who have been abused, are recovering from substance abuse, on probation, or have mental, emotional and physical challenges to the rescued animals, in hopes that the interaction will teach the kids tolerance, courage, strength, trust, leadership skills and empathy.
When asked how close the fire came to Gentle Barn, co-founder Ellie R. Laks said, “We were absolutely engulfed in flames.”
But, thankfully, Ellie, along with her partner and co-founder Jay Weiner, received word of the fire just in time. “We were able to evacuate all the animals beforehand, and that’s the most important thing, that all the animals are safe.”
The six acre ranch, aside from being home to the animals, is also where Weiner, Laks, and their three children, call home.
When Laks recalls the fire, one event stands out in her mind. “One of the roofs had caught on fire, and all of a sudden, the firemen jumped on top of the building, put the fire out, and saved the structure. We couldn’t thank the firefighters enough. It’s a miracle that we didn’t lose any buildings. We have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.”
And although all the animals are home and safe, the fire certainly took its toll. The roof on both the office and the garage need to be replaced, as well as the carpets and the landscape outside.
In light of the fires, instead of holding their Annual Vegan Dinner, the Gentle Barn will be hosting a “Winter Wonderland Fundraiser and Firefighter Thank You” on December 16th. At the event, which will be at Gentle Barn on Sierra Highway from 11-4 p.m., everyone can celebrate the joy of the holidays.
Kids can play and sled in real snow, or make the rescued animals stockings and stuff them with goodies, while parents can buy gifts for friends or family at the silent auction. All the proceeds will go towards helping Gentle Barn recover from the fire.
For more information on the fundraiser or Gentle Barn and its mission, go to www.gentlebarn.org.