The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita, CA rescues animals from abuse and puts them together with “abused children, kids recovering from substance abuse, kids on probation, foster kids, and children and adults with mental, emotional, and physical challenges.” The Gentle Barn is about to enter its 16th year in operation, creating sanctuary for animals and humans alike, where physical health and emotional needs are restored and nourished. It’s one of those beautiful ideas that people work hard to make into a reality. The Gentle Barn is currently host to 170 animals rescued from abuse and neglect–“horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, llamas, dogs, and cats.” In teaching children–especially children who’ve had few role models–how to interact with animals, in teaching them the dignity of each life, the Gentle Barn shows by example what it would take a million words to begin to teach.
The Gentle Barn is open to the public on Sundays and private tours can be arranged every other day of the week. The proprietors are Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner. Ellie Laks began dreaming of such a place when she was just 7 years old. Thousands of children have been touched by Ellie’s dream come true. The following poem, featured on the Gentle Barn site, gives insight into the driving force behind this vital project.
I am the voice of the voiceless
Through me the dumb shall speak
Till the deaf world’s ear
Be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
And I am my brother’s keeper
And I shall fight his fight
And speak the word
For beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)