shai and ben.jpg

Founder's Story.

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

-Paula :)