July 6, 2012
This is really difficult to write, but in light of all that is happening I feel that we need more voices heard on experiences with GB. I had been a volunteer for over 2 years. Reading these reviews, there is definitely extreme opinions that go from painting Jay and Ellie as horrible people living a lavish lifestyle to the other end of the spectrum where they are saints only doing all they can to save the animals. Like most things, the truth is in the middle somewhere. Personally, I will not go back to the Gentle Barn to volunteer and it breaks my heart. In my experience with the owners of the GB, they mean well and have the best interest of the animals at heart. However, their judgment gets clouded with ego and arrogance as well as a lack of trust in not just employees, but volunteers. At times Ellie seemed to care more for the feelings of the animals or rather it was more of her projecting her own feelings and wants onto the animals, like restricting the volunteer hours severely for her and her family's benefit - not for the organization. I've seen decisions get made that did not serve the animals or the organization, but more were made to serve the owners. It's unfortunate. Both animals and people at the GB have suffered due to this. I can't say anything about the accusations of funds being mis-used as only the owners and those handling the accounts directly know the truth about that. What I did see was an arrogance in the owners and mis-trust in people that caused them to not put the animals first. To me, this is a lack of the integrity of the organization. It breaks my heart. Yes, the stalls & barnyard are clean. Yes, the grounds are immaculate. It serves the animals and looks great to visitors, but the reflects a huge control issue that the owners just can't let go of. I believe that Jay and Ellie have their hearts in the right place, but they don't always make decisions from their hearts. This means that the animals have suffered and so have the people that get close to them. Other volunteers that I was close with have had uncomfortable and bad experiences with Ellie, but I haven't. What I have experienced is all that I've stated and I hope that someone can come in to help put this organization back on track. In my opinion & experience, Ellie and Jay are not bad people, but they can have big egos that get in the way of making decisions that best serve the animals and the organization.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
Would you recommend this group to a friend?
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?
Have a board in place and not Ellie and/or Jay as the final decision maker.
MY ROLE:Volunteer & Volunteer with the animals.