There are people in this world who have so much good in their hearts – they simply cannot keep it in…Not helping is not an option. Ellie Laks is one of those people.
I met Ellie and her husband, Jay, at the opening of the Gentle Barn just outside of Nashville.
The Gentle Barn started in California in 1999, then expanded to Missouri.
One day, Ellie got a call from a woman in Tennessee who was desperately trying to save a cow. Yes, a cow.
That cow was named Dudley, and if you haven’t seen his story, take a moment to watch the video below.
Dudley was the inspiration and the beginning for the Knoxville Gentle Barn. Their Knoxville location grew and grew, and pretty soon they needed more land. That’s when they decided to move west – to middle Tennessee in Christiana. The beautiful, 40-acre property is home to dozens of animals. Ellie and Jay rescue the animals no one wants, the ones that are too sick or old. They give them a place to live out there days and heal. Now, it’s the only farm animal sanctuary in the state.
But they don’t just have a heart for animals… they run a really unique program, where they work with animals they rescue, they rehabilitate them, then they take the animals and use their stories to work with inner-city, at-risk and special needs children. They heal each other, and it’s pretty incredible.
So that’s the CliffsNotes version of the GB, an amazing story, right? As an animal lover I was already on board with their mission, but then I heard Ellie speak. Her love for animals —and people—is truly special.
Something Ellie said really struck me – she talked about growing up and always helping animals, bringing them home and rescuing them, fighting for them and hurting when they hurt. She said she didn’t understand how people could not have compassion for animals, to look into their eyes and not want to do *something.*
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt the same way – baffled at the lack of compassion people have, frustration when I can’t get people to understand why they should care. Ellie spelled it all out so perfectly. She talked about her dream of having a sanctuary for animals, a safe place for them to live and a place for us humans to learn and also heal through animals.
The Gentle Barn is that place. And it’s so moving.
The GB is open to the public on Sundays, for private tours, cub scout groups or school tours and even serves as an event space.
If you go… you’ll meet dogs and cows, horses and pigs, chickens and who knows what else because Ellie is always saving creatures!
WHERE: 9295 Christiana Fosterville Road
Christiana, TN 370