Ellie Laks has always had a strong connection to animals. In 1999, Ellie founded the Gentle Barn in Southern California, a nonprofit organization that that rescues, rehabilitates, and offers sanctuary to abused animals. In her new memoir, “My Gentle Barn,” Laks tells her story of how she healed animals and how they left an impression on her life.
The book weaves together the story of how the Gentle Barn came to be along with Ellie’s own journey to find herself. From challenges in her youth to pulling herself out of a downward spiral in her twenties, Ellie found balance by throwing herself into working with animals and finding strength in their company.
Since its inception, the Gentle Barn has rescued and been home to thousands of animals (including cows who give hugs, pigs who befriend chickens, and horses who have forged deep bonds with special-needs children). The Gentle Barn has also hosted more than 400,000 visitors and has become an extraordinary nonprofit that brings together a volunteer staff of community members and at-risk teens to rehabilitate abandoned and abused animals. Thousands of at-risk and special-needs children who have participated in their youth program—as well as the adults who have come to volunteer—have been touched by the animal residents of the Gentle Barn. As Ellie teaches the volunteers to care for the animals, they learn a new language of healing that works wonders on the humans as much as it does on the animals.
Filled with tales of daring rescues, love, unforgettable animal hijinks, inspiring recoveries, and the achieving of dreams, “My Gentle Barn” is a feel-good account that will touch animal lovers and memoir readers alike. The book is now available from Harmony Books.