“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead
Those of us who work in nonprofit fundraising are a lucky lot. We spend our days—and in some cases, our entire careers—raising money for worthy causes that make the world a better place. I count myself particularly fortunate when I am able to see a charity’s impact up close and personally.
Such was the case when my husband and I recently visited Farm Sanctuary, an Avalon client, one sunny Sunday morning. At Farm Sanctuary’s bucolic upstate New York location, one of three shelters nationwide, we were greeted by an idyllic scene and an enthusiastic tour guide. She introduced the group to the animals Farm Sanctuary has rescued from abuse and neglect and now cares for year-round. Everyone on the tour relished spending time with the animals—from the sweet cows and goats to the gregarious chickens and turkeys—and the opportunity to stroke their backs or, in the case of the pigs, rub their bellies.
My favorite animal encounter that day occurred as we were walking toward the barn where the goats lived. Along the way, two friendly donkeys ambled toward the group to greet us. I was pleasantly surprised to see one of them make a beeline through the crowd for my husband. Perhaps he had heard through the animal underground that my husband receives high marks from our house cats for his first-rate head rubbing. Upon arrival, the donkey promptly leaned down and waited patiently for his head to be rubbed (see picture). My husband gladly complied.
No doubt that affectionate donkey and the 1,000 animals at Farm Sanctuary’s shelters enjoy a wonderful life. They have plenty of room to relax, roam, and just be themselves. But the sanctuary residents represent a small fraction of the millions of animals affected by the factory-farm industry. They serve as a symbol for all the great work Farm Sanctuary does to educate millions of people about the animals’ plight, advocate for laws and policies to prevent their suffering, and reach out to legislators and businesses to bring about institutional reforms.
There are fewer than 100 people working at Farm Sanctuary. But thanks to generous supporters, they have worked together with purpose and passion to make Farm Sanctuary the largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization in the United States. I feel blessed and humbled to have witnessed their powerful impact on the world firsthand.
Additonal photos from my visit can be found below.