A packed room of Expo West attendees learned about The Gentle Barn at an event held during Expo West.

Since childhood, Ellie Laks had a goal of helping and nurturing animals in need. In 1999, she made that dream come true with the founding of The Gentle Barn, a nonprofit intended to give abused and neglected animals a second chance at life through rehabilitation and healing. The group also helps needy, at-risk and special needs children who have suffered physical, mental or emotional trauma with programs that allow them to interact with the animals. Members of the community are invited to visit the sanctuaries to have one-on-one interactions with the animals, and many dates sell out.

Reflecting on her role helping suffering animals and children, Laks stated, “It’s a rich life with many challenges. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Now with barns in California and Tennessee (housing nearly 200 animals), The Gentle Barn has a strong connection to the natural products industry. In 2014, Laks came up with the idea for the Gentle 52, corporate sponsors that also receive weekly spotlight benefits, including social media mentions, signage at the sanctuaries and sampling for the 500–600 weekend visitors from the community.

Long-time corporate sponsors with ties to the industry include Sun Chlorella, Nature’s Gate, Dr. Bronner’s, So Delicious and more.

To learn more, visit www.gentlebarn.org.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine May 2016