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From helper to author

Gentle Barn founder celebrates her new book with public signing

Posted: March 30, 2014 10:12 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2014 10:12 p.m.

Gentle Barn founder Ellis Laks signs copies of her book, "My Gentle Barn," Sunday at the nonprofit's facility on Sierra Highway.

From the time she was a little girl running barefoot through the woods, bringing wounded animals home to mend, Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks has made it her mission to care for animals, she said, and now she’s put her journey in writing.

On Sunday, as cows and pigs stretched out in the sun in pens behind her, Laks signed copies of her recently --published book, “My Gentle Barn,” which chronicles the growth of the local nonprofit group aimed at healing “at-risk” kids through the healed animals it rescues.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was 7 years old,” she told a group of about 50 people who gathered at her book-signing table.

More than 700 people visited The Gentle Barn on Sierra Highway Sunday, many for the animals but many more to welcome Laks’ debut as an author.

Her book, subtitled “Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope,” details how she started The Gentle Barn after adopting a sick goat from a run-down petting zoo in 1999.

“From the time I could walk, I was always off barefoot, mucking around in the lakes and wood, running after animals,” she told the group. “When I got little older, when I was 7 years old, I realized that sometimes animals need help. Sometimes they fall out of their nests or get injured.

“I started bringing them. And my plan was to have a house full of animals that I saved and they would be my friends,” she said. “My parents were not amused. They told me, ‘When you grow up you can have as many animals as you want.’

“So, now I have 170,” she said. “At The Gentle Barn, we purposely seek out animals no one else wants. Once they’re finally healed and happy, they stayhere for the rest of their lives. And then, they help us heal kids with the same stories of abuse and neglect.”
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