Posted on Jun 14, 2018
If you have read my book, My Gentle Barn, you'll know that I started The Gentle Barn on a half acre backyard, in The San Fernando Valley after visiting an abusive petting zoo and coming home with many of their most decrepit animals. Those founding animals taught me everything I know today and helped me host the first generation of groups of at-risk, inner city, and special needs children. It was a magical time where I got to realize my dream, live surrounded by animals and go to bed each night with a smile on my face. Each morning, while I cleaned the yard, fed the animals, filled water buckets, and groomed the horses, I would envision The Gentle Barn growing, saving more animals, healing more children, and hosting more guests. I would picture an army of volunteers, staff, and donors who would partner with me to do even more. I don't think that vision would have ever come true had I not met Jay!
Jay came in as a volunteer and each week became more and more involved with the organization. He started by volunteering each Friday to help care for the animals and the barnyard but soon came every day with a van full of organic fruits and veggies that he had rounded up from Whole Foods. The two of us would spend hours chopping up the produce to feed to the animals for dinner, and we became friends. As soon as I learned that he had a corporate background, I ushered him into the office where he set up the website to take donations, created a brochure, and started planning our first fundraiser. He then joined the board of directors, and after a year, we fell in love. A few years later Jay helped us grow from a half acre property and a hand full of animals to two properties in Santa Clarita totaling twenty acres. Three years ago we opened a Gentle Barn in Knoxville, TN. And last year opened a Gentle Barn in St Louis, Missouri. We have since rescued hundreds of animals, healed thousands of children, and opened hundreds of thousands of hearts.
Jay and I are also parents to three kids! We are now putting our oldest daughter through college, while our son and youngest daughter live at home. Being parents and animal rescuers have had its challenges, but has come with so many blessings that we would not trade for the world! Our days start very early, last a long time, and once work is over for the evening, our second job of driving, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of kids begins. We have very few dates, days off, or vacations, but somehow we find time throughout the day to exchange quick hugs or I love You's. I truly believe that without Jay I would still be tinkering in my half acre backyard with a hand full of animals. The Gentle Barn would not be a national organization, the animals that we have come to know and love probably would not be alive, we would not have helped thousands of people evolve to a plant-based diet, and I would not have a heart that is so full, every single day!
Please join me in wishing Jay a very happy Fathers Day! He has more dependents than anyone I know, and he works so hard to provide for all of us. And while he is our hero, I'm sure that the father in your life is your hero as well. So Happy Fathers Day, have a great weekend! And thank you all for being my army, supporting us while we expand to Nashville, loving animals with us, and helping my tiny dream to come true in huge ways!