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75 Reviews
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February 22, 2012
25 people found this review helpful

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February 22, 2012
25 people found this review helpful

During my time at the gentle barn I have been verbally attacked and cussed out by Ellie, I have seen Jay whip a horse with a rope for no real reason and I have been asked to lie more than once. They are evil money hungry people who treat the volunteers and animals with no respect! Jay is really good at selling the sob stories of himself and Ellie and the animals. DONT BELIEVE HIM. I was involved there for three years and have never seen people lie about so many things. Many of the animals there are not even really rescued, they are pets that Elli and Jay decided to take in. They say they are kind and loving yet they treated me with no respect and screamed and cursed at me until I cried. They cant even produce simple answers, I asked Elli many times how old Zoe was(a horse at the GB) and she responded that she lost the paper work. Seems a little sketchy to me. Then there are the even more simple questions, where are the cows? where are the barns? who is on the board? Please do not waste any time or money on this organization. There are many real rescues that need your help.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

February 22, 2012
22 people found this review helpful

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February 22, 2012
22 people found this review helpful

I would be very interested to knowing exactly who these secret board members are. To date no one has ever heard of them except the previous reviewer. Surely, the names of the board members is not top secret is it? And to the other volunteers that keep talking about how wonderful and peaceful The Gentle Barn is, it is wonderful and peaceful on the surface. As long as you don't get to close and you don't know too much, you will be fine. Once you get below the surface you see the problems. One problem you really want to stay away from is Ellie and her temper. She is a verbally abusive crazy person. So sad to see. I thought for sure she was mother earth when I got there. Boy was I wrong. Such a disappointment. And for the record, I have a very full and busy life and have found someplace else to volunteer at in addition to school and work and family so I'm not sitting around with nothing to do but some things are worth shining a light on.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 18, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

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February 18, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

I am very close to someone who is on the board of The Gentle Barn and I am a donor as well as a fundraiser for charities including the Gentle Barn. I've worked with them for years and watched them grow since inception. These posted allegations prompted board members, myself and fellow donors to investige the matter. We demanded transparency as none of us were happy with what we read here nor do we wish to donate into such an alleged situation. We discovered the postings are by ex- volunteers who are angry at the Gentle Barn for personal reasons. They are not on the board or even deeply affiliated hence they have limited access to detail regarding these matters . I can understand why certain issues appeared questionable to an outsider but when we approached them with credibility and demanded transparency, we were obliged. We not only confirmed these allegations don't correlate with the examined facts presented but we learned some surprising information. Though I don't have the right to disclose the information provided without obtaining permission-I will confirm that regarding the 60 cows and barns incident, there is a credible information as to what happened and I will ask permission to post the variables as I would like to see resolution for those who are concerned. I can assure legitimate explanations as to the alleged financial accusations- there has been no immoral activity such as theft or using funds raised for charity on personal usage. In fact, though I am not at liberty to disclose details, I was astonished by certain aspects of generosity that enabled the Gentle Barn not only to exist but to flourish and the extent of hardship and risk so given at times would be nearly impossible to recoup based on what we witnessed. According to what I've seen in the animal rescue community, there seems to be a frequent occurance of personal conflict I find baffling and I've concluded there are those who are prone to jealousy, control issues, and outright drama- unfortunately at the expense of the animal's well-being and/or the functionality of organizations. I became invested in The Gentle Barn as I watched it unfold and will never forget how the abused children from group homes responded to the animal therapy. I was amazed at how this program helped these at-risk and abused kids in conjunction with at-risk animals . The place is magical and likened to heaven by the work it does. These people work so hard for little to no compensation compared to industry standards. Frankly, I'm appalled at how this misperceived resentment has catapulted into such damage when such lack of justification is apparent based upon my objective pursuit of the truth. I cannot believe people could literally have vested interest in tearing something apart without absolute substantial fact to justify it. It's baffling how defective human action can be during the reckless pursuit of revenge. The grounds are spotless, well-groomed healthy animals approach strangers with no fear only to give unconditional love to needy and broken children yet a shortsided view can be blind to see the truth in just that one lonely variable... I'm speechless and left wondering what is wrong with some people? Don't they have better things to do? Like go volunteer someplace else? Or are they so caught up in 'self-absorbtion' that they can see that there is more that matters in the world besides themselves??? Or what really matters in life???

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

December 7, 2011
3 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
December 7, 2011
3 people found this review helpful

I think it is sad that disgruntled ex-volunteers feel the need to spew such poison about such a great organization. I love The Gentle Barn. The animals are amazing and the grounds are spotless. They obviously care deeply for each and every animal and the kids who come there too. I don't know of any other organization that does the kind of work they do. I get happy every time I drive through those gates and know I get to spend time with the animals. I feel like my work there really helps them and helps kids too. How could you not like a place like that?

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

December 1, 2011
27 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
December 1, 2011
27 people found this review helpful

Please read the September review here first! It pretty much sums up the REAL Gentle Barn. The previous poster appears naive. All of us so called 'haters' actually love the mission statement of the Gentle Barn. We just don't like getting scammed. The staff IS friendly. The facility IS nice. They DO rescue animals. However, there is little to no accountability at this place. Concerned donors and volunteers voice their concerns on Facebook on "Gentle Barn Concerns". Until they clean up their act, I do NOT recommend donating to this organization.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Volunteering

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Change the leadership and provide transparency.

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Unlikely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

No

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

What specific problem, purpose, priority, or project prompted your gift?

I donated to save 60 cows and build barns nearly 1.5 years ago. Neither has happened and information regarding their fundraising has been removed from their website.

Why did you make your donation at this time?

To save 60 cows!

What would you tell others about this organization?

Stay away until they clean up their act.

November 29, 2011
4 people found this review helpful

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November 29, 2011
4 people found this review helpful

I have to disagree with all of the negative reviews of The Gentle Barn. I love The Gentle Barn, think Ellie and Jay are amazing people. The staff and volunteers are so generous . The mission is beautiful. I guess you don't make a difference without getting haters. These reviews sounds like disgruntle misplaced crazy people. I understand you are hurt, but lashing out on every forum possible is crazy talk. Move on, make a difference and stop going after people who are making a huge difference.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

November 3, 2011
37 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
November 3, 2011
37 people found this review helpful

After reading these reviews, I feel the need to speak out.
My experience began in May of 2010 when I heard of the Gentle Barn's plea to save '60 Sad California Cows'. My husband and I immediately made a very large donation to save these cows and to help build much needed barns. It was
advertised that if they raised $100,000 then a donor would match that amount. They raised the money (all of it and thensome). My husband and I became volunteers and volunteered everyday for six months and then at least every other day for the following three (until we were kicked out). My husband is an engineer and offered to help with getting the plans for the barns through the Building Department. He even went to the Building Department with the "president". The "president" was given paperwork to complete and return. We saw that paperwork sit in the office untouched for many many weeks. My husband asked over and over if he could help get things done. He was ignored or his help was flat out refused. I guess he asked about when the barns would be built and offered to help too many times because in February of this year (2011) we were banned from volunteering.
To this date there are no cows (all mention of the cows has been deleted from the website) and there are no barns.
We had also paid for a "lifetime membership" which they refused to refund after we were banned.
We have had no recourse as there is no functioning board of directors.
Many people have told me that they have personally witnessed the misuse of donated money (donated money being used personally by the founder and her husband, the 'president').
The treatment of volunteers is horrendeous. It has now come down to the volunteers are told who they can associate with and who they can not (the 'can nots' being those of us who have questioned the founder and her husband and then subsequently banned). If the volunteers associate with someone who has been banned, they are then banned.
With all the fundraising going on and the reports and personal witnessing of funds being co-mingled, no functioning board of directors, absolutely no transparency, etc... I am failing to see how this is a justified 501c3.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I was there for a rescued cow and helped her connect with a human being.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The founder and president need to be replaced with a ethical functioning board of Directors.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

November 3, 2011
32 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
November 3, 2011
32 people found this review helpful

I agree with the first 3 reviews. As a volunteer for several years I've witnessed a lot. One of things that bothered me most was the owner's verbal abuse of volunteers, even ones that were under 18 or elderly. They have no idea what they're doing, they claim to have a ridiculous amount of experience with animals but have proven time and again that's just not true. It would be such a wonderful place if they weren't running it any more. Then, animals could actually get adopted out to make room for more and maybe it would go back to being a sanctuary instead of the Sunday roadside petty zoo the owner claimed to despise. I've seen how stressed the animals get when there are too many people there. It's just not good for them. They've digressed from their goal for greed.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

replace the current "owners" with people who knew what they were doing.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Unsure

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Okay

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Actually train the volunteers correctly.

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Yes. It showed me how much greed affects your judgment.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Sad, very sad.

November 3, 2011
29 people found this review helpful

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November 3, 2011
29 people found this review helpful

I wanted to echo the review I have just read on here regarding The Gentle Barn Foundation. I went to volunteer there at the time of the huge ''60 sad dairy cow' rescue. The concept of The Gentle Barn is a wonderful one and if it really was as it seems on the surface it would be indeed noble. However, my experience of it was rather different.

I spent long 12 hour days (sometimes longer) helping with the animals on both properties, in the office, with other volunteers, paid staff and many hours with Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner.

The volunteers were told to inform Ellie and Jay of any problem with the animals so it could be picked up and responded to, however when volunteers voiced concerns about the health of any animal they were caring for, Ellie and Jay would become enraged and/or very dismissive. They reacted suggesting that individuals suggesting an animal had a health concern were saying Ellie and Jay were not doing a good enough job.

Volunteers (without whom the place could not run) were often frightened of Ellie and Jay with good cause. I witnessed much inappropriate and aggressive behaviour towards people by Ellie and Jay. Local vets would no longer work with them and at one time this meant that an animal who was very sick was not getting the urgent treatment it required since the vet who would work for the GB had to come over 90mins in the car.

As for the 60 dairy cows, I was told by Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner themselves that they had never set eyes on the cows. Infact all that had happened is an anonymous man called the GB and said he had 60 dairy cows who were sick as he was going out of business. He asked the GB to buy them from him. The GB said they would take them, though not pay for them, I don't believe. No one at the GB had the phone number of this man neither did they have any details of the whereabouts of these cows. They posted pictures on the website of the cows only they were not the actual dairy cows. For all anyone knew, these cows didn't even exist or if they did, they certainly didn't have enough information about them to present to the public. Their fundraising was fraudulent. No one has held them accountable to the $100,000 they raised for this specific purpose.

I witnessed definite mismanagement of donations and funds given to the barn and ending up in the personal pockets of Ellie and Jay.

One day I asked who was on the board of trustees and they presented a list of names. I was then told that they had never actually met and there were no minutes or anything for any meetings.

Ellie and Jay frequently got very enraged and I felt that they were very disturbed. This would be irrelevant to The Gentle Barn if they didn't take it out on the volunteers caring for the animals meaning they were then too scared to be assertive when worried about the health of an animal. and also if it didn't mean they were blinded at times to the true state of an animal's health.

The GB has an almost cult following. Ellie and Jay are charmers at first and tend to charismatically attract certain characters who will then all but worship them. Unfortunately time and again, as soon as these individuals voiced anything that Ellie and Jay did not agree with, that volunteer was reprimanded, and eventually forced to leave, often immediately made to leave.

I realise anyone reading this may think I am a disgruntled volunteer but in fact I didn't get reprimanded or asked to leave and left on what they thought was good terms. I saw what was happening early on and set about trying to get a glimpse into all angles of the organisation whilst I could. I was deeply saddened in all honesty because the idea behind this organization is wonderful. Unfortunately without proper management, a board of directors and greater transparency, it is far far from the ideal it sets about portraying.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my own feelings of wellbeing when with animals. it could really help people and animals if it were really as described and not at the hands of two very unstable people

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

create a board of directors/trustees who were independent and had the best interest of the animals in mind. I would have the finances filed and made available. increase transparency. Have the power of the organization dispersed a bit more across a number of experienced individuals to decrease the chances of corruption as is now occurring

More feedback...

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

the above

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I met some wonderful people in some of the other volunteers and some incredible animals

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

very sad

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 25, 2011
54 people found this review helpful

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Review from Guidestar
September 25, 2011
54 people found this review helpful

The Gentle Barn Foundation (a registered 501(c)3) is far from "Gentle" and far from a worthy, registered non-profit. As a volunteer, I split my time between helping the animals and working in their main office on various Foundation matters. I had direct personal contact with both of the owners, Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner, the office staff, the ranch hands and their 120+ animals. I personally witnessed inappropriate and reprehensible behavior by Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner towards both the animals, the volunteers and the staff. I witnessed animal neglect and mismanaged care of sick animals, fraudulent fundraising practices and the commingling of the Foundation's money for Laks and Weiner's personal use. While the premise of The Gentle Barn is noble, the inner workings of this Foundation are not. There is no active sitting board of directors and no financial transparency nor oversight. They use shady fundraising and advertising practices to pull on the public's heartstrings to raise money that they then spend on themselves, taking lavish vacations, purchasing personal vehicles, hiring personal masseuses, etc. While this is all fine, it is not fine if you are using donation dollars to do so, which they have and continue to do. One example, in 2010, they rolled out a large fundraising campaign to raise $100K with a $100K donor match to rescue "60 Sad California Dairy Cows" and to erect two (2) barns on their Agua Dulce property for these cows. They raised the funds, obtained the donor match and to this day have not rescued those cows nor erected those barns. Why, because their weren't "60 Sad California Dairy Cows" to rescue. Noticeably, all mention of this campaign has been removed from their website and their Facebook page. If you post an inquiry about it on their Facebook page, they will not respond, but instead they delete those postings. Further, while many of the animals came from neglected and abused backgrounds, many others have not. However, they use all of the animals in their campaigns to gain sympathy and more donation dollars with "rescue" or "neglect" stories that are simply untrue; deceiving the public further. Lastly, as human beings, Laks and Weiner lack one common denominator as responsible and worthy human beings running a non-profit: a moral compass. It is my hope, for the sake of the animals in their care, that Laks and Weiner will be publicly tested and held accountable for their actions and The Foundation will finally be made to appoint an active, responsible and proactive sitting board of directors that will finally carry out the mission of The Gentle Barn Foundation in a responsible and transparent manner: "To rescue, rehabilitate and give sanctuary to abused animals. Through the interaction with our animals people learn reverence for all."

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Tending to the animals and working directly in the office.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

1) Appointment an active, responsible and knowledgeable BOD (board of directors). 2) Immediately fire/remove Ellie Laks and Jay Weiner from controlling positions on the BOD. 3) Prepare, file and make public audited financial statements for the past 5 years. 4) Enact a policy of 100% transparency within the Foundation and 5) See to it the money raised for the care and management of The Foundation's animals is actually used for them.

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