Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.
Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.

The Inside Scoop: Leslie

I have always believed in the power of rescue. From childhood, bringing home countless stray animals, to the present with my current rescues that live with me, I have always felt driven to help an animal in need.

I came to Knoxville seven years ago, alone with my teenage daughter, completely uncertain of where life was leading us. Life as I had known it for 20 years was gone in a blink of my eyes but I had to keep my daughter headed in the right direction. I jumped into work and getting my daughter through high school. Once she left home to go to college, I looked around and I was alone with my nine furbabies in a big empty house with a sudden and immense emptiness. Where am I headed now? I wanted to figure out a way to rescue even more animals; farm animals in particular. I started tattooing farm animals and a barn on my arm, planning my destiny, I say. I began researching opening a sanctuary and I had an abrupt realization that this might not be quite as easy as I thought it would be. I considered leaving Knoxville.

Soon after, I heard about Dudley on Facebook and I began researching the Gentle Barn. Once I learned the Sanctuary was coming to Knoxville, this huge excitement came over me and I began to research being a volunteer. I was so excited because there was a position for a cow hugger. I was going to hug cows! Grand opening was announced, I came with friends, met everybody, got my volunteer application right then, and started to volunteer soon after.

Once I started volunteering, I began to meet the most compassionate, giving people that I could have ever imagined possible. I am in awe that there is a whole group of people that think and feel just as I do and it is so amazing to work side by side with them, taking care of these sweet babies. They are my family and I love them all. Also, the people that visit the barn bring so much love, hope, and positive energy. There have been many moments that have touched me deep inside. From children with their first experience touching a cow or pig, or someone making a connection that these are living, breathing, sentient beings that really do want to live; it truly is magical and I treasure it very much. It gives me a new purpose and direction.

I no longer wonder if Knoxville will remain my home. I am currently looking for land so I can rescue a few more animals, that I will be able to care for now since learning so much at The Gentle Barn. It humbles me to have the chance to learn and work beside Mike and Andrea. You both have taught me so much. You have been instrumental in my progress as a volunteer and I cannot thank you enough. Your love and dedication for the Barn completely blows me away! It is truly beautiful. You inspire me to be the very best I possibly can.

I am so excited to continue to grow and learn with the Gentle Barn and welcome new animals that get to spend their lives in complete love, devotion, and sanctuary. I am thrilled to be a part of that.

It is so exciting to realize that Ellie, with her drive and determination, started The Gentle Barn and her influence has had a ripple effect that continues to touch so many people and animals in so many ways. It is so powerful. Everyone of the animals holds a special piece of my heart and they make me such a better person. I know that there are still good people in this world. I have learned how good it feels to help and to do something that makes your heart very happy. I am gaining back strength that I have not had since surviving cancer eleven years ago. I take so much more from the Barn than anybody even realizes. My life has grown and changed for the better. Thank you so very much!

Latest Posts


Upcoming Events


Spotlight Sponsor of the Month

MyChelle formulates clean, advanced skincare products with peptides, plant stem cells, antioxidants and retinoids that enhance skin's natural appearance. MyChelle is proudly co-sponsoring The Gentle Barn 20th Anniversary Celebration along with CRYSTAL™

Martin Floreani - CEO and President of MyChelle Dermaceuticals and Crystal Deodorant “Our company was started based on the concept that we could develop better-for-you products. Products that help people make better choices for themselves, for their families, and society. There’s a contagious feeling of happiness when you are involved with an organization like the Gentle Barn who constantly does so much good. We are proud to be sponsors and supporters of this incredible organization.”

Spotlight Sponsor of the Month

CRYSTAL™ is the world’s original natural and number one selling mineral salt deodorant. Crystal aspires to provide a natural and safer alternative than traditional chemical-laden deodorants. Crystal is proudly co-sponsoring The Gentle Barn 20th Anniversary Celebration along with MyChelle.

Catie Wiggy - Vice President of Marketing & Product Innovation “Animal testing is still such a problem in the beauty industry and personal care products. We feel that it is our corporate mission to lead a different way, and that is something we are proud to have done for more than 35 years. Being a sponsor for The Gentle 12 Program is meaningful for us in so many ways. The Gentle Barn's missions align with our companies core values to go beyond cruelty-free, inspiring everyone to live happier, healthier lives.