My story didn't start in my childhood like many people who start sanctuaries. It didn't even start in my 20's or 30's. My story started on a fateful day in October, 2017, at the ripe ol' age of 44.
My daughter, Shailee, had been wanting to visit a local farm sanctuary for a while so, for her 17th birthday, my mom and I took her. Little did I know how much my life was about to change!
There were so many amazing animals, and their stories were both heartbreaking and victorious- but there was one special guy in particular who really stood out to me. His name was Gentle Ben. Gentle Ben was a 6 ft tall, around 3000 lb, genetically modified Black Angus- I'm talking one seriously intimidating looking cow!
It was a tender moment between my daughter and this gentle giant that changed me in an instant. As I watched my daughter lean into, and just become one with, this amazing creature, I realized that I was no better than any other living, breathing being on this planet and that I needed to change. Choking back tears, I snapped this picture, and it has been a constant reminder of why I went vegan and why I decided to start a farm animal sanctuary.
Once we visited all of the animals, we sat down to eat. As I finished the last bites of my vegan hotdog, I promised Shailee (with tears streaming down my face) that I would do better. I apologized to her for all the times during the past year that I cooked and ate meat in front of her, convinced that I needed meat to be healthy and (if I'm 100% honest) using that as an excuse to turn a blind eye to what happens to these animals every second of every day, just for human greed and ignorance.
Within two weeks, Shailee and I were both volunteering at the sanctuary and were both vegan (she had been vegetarian for a year previous). I would go on to work for this sanctuary and have the joy of sharing my story with hundreds of people on Sundays as well as learn all I could about the dos and don'ts of running a sanctuary.
That is where my story begins... but this is where it continues- here on The Big Island of Hawaii- the place my husband, Josh, and I have dreamt of "retiring" to for years. We are a tiny, brand new sanctuary but in just our first two months of being here, we have rescued two baby goats, a pot-bellied pig, and, with the help of amazing donors, recently rescued four amazing cows from a dairy farm closing down on the island. We have been approached to rescue several others, too, and are working on fencing and space.
We are currently looking for a large piece of land- something I expected to take several months but I'm not complaining! I am truly excited for what 2019 is going to bring to Big Island Farm Sanctuary!
And to think it all started because of a girl and a cow. <3