Spring Farm has been in the family of co-founder Bonnie Jones Reynolds since 1820, and was operated as a dairy farm until 1980. In 1987 Bonnie and co-founder Dawn E. Hayman became T.T.E.A.M. Practitioners. In the course of their practice, people began to unload unwanted animals onto them. So that, in January of 1991, they incorporated as a not-for-profit animal sanctuary and began to take in animals in earnest. Our official name is Spring Farm Center Alternative Research Education Sanctuary, Inc.. Since that mouthful gives computers nervous breakdowns, we adopted the more user-friendly, and aptly descriptive, acronym Spring Farm CARES. Bonnie and Dawn were later joined by Dr. Margot Unkel in 1995. Bonnie, Dawn, and Margot work 24/7/365 in the daily operation of Spring Farm CARES.
Spring Farm CARES began our path in 1991 and we look back with gratitude and amazement at everything we have accomplished. But primarily we look forward with excitement to what we are going to accomplish. Because what we are going to accomplish – we, you, all of us – is a world of peace, and love, and compassion.
Compassion. There are days – and sometimes it seems like days without end - in our field of animal rescue - where the world seems devoid of compassion. We know this isn’t the case, but sometimes we’re stretched to the limits of our faith - faith that love will prevail.
Life is filled with dichotomies. Darkness and light, agony and ecstasy, great beauty of spirit and great ugliness of deed. Dichotomy exists in Nature and within each one of us as well. And the Creator has given us Free Will. We can choose. So on what will we focus? The dark or the light? From whence do we draw breath? What is our operational center? We all drift from one extreme to the other, attempting to find our own centers of balance. Who is there among us who has not cast judgment, had negative thoughts, done negative deeds, forgotten to come from a place of love instead of fear, a place of acceptance instead of judgment? Yet it is in acceptance of this darker part of ourselves that we can achieve the balance we are all looking for. And how hard it is to make that acceptance.
When Spring Farm CARES was “being baked in the ovens of our minds”, we realized that if we were going to embark upon this cruise, we would be at sea for the rest of our lives, co-captains sailing in uncharted waters, with only personal vision for destination, and trust as fuel to get there.
Spring Farm CARES is not just a physical place. It is a philosophy and a way of life. Spring Farm CARES is different from any other animal sanctuary or charitable organization on the face of the earth. We approach every aspect of our operations - from the very essence of our animal care programs, our nature sanctuary, our humane educational programs, and our interactions with our community and the rest of the world - in a totally unique manner.
We have vowed not to send out gruesome pictures and stories of animals being abused and tortured. Yet we walk a delicate line of still needing to educate people as to what is really going on. No one likes to see the pictures or read the stories.
We understand. Yet how do we let you know about these things, and let you know that we need your help to combat such abuse? We’ve been tempted to publish the photos. “They’ll get you large donations,” we’ve been advised. “People love to throw money at things like that so they don’t have to face them,” they said. “People will give you money so that you will make the problem go away.”
But is having people throw money at us to make the problem go away the answer? Our response is a resounding, “No!!!” Money alone won’t solve the problems! Opening your wallets is not the most important thing. We need you to open your hearts.
Make no mistake, we do need your donations. But we also need you to know that, with your donations, you are not throwing money at something to shove it under the carpet. Our programs and philosophies are aimed at the very root of the problem ... the human heart. Our whole approach is meant to directly touch people’s hearts, open those hearts to the world – and then see the change.
This can only be done one heart at a time. All of us must embrace this entire planet and all of her inhabitants as family. We must bring all of the suffering, pain, darkness, negativity, out into the light, into the healing, into the love. Your money has helped us and continues to help us reach more and more hearts. And we are beginning to see the change.
So we need something more important than your money. We need your compassion. We need each of you to start reaching hearts, one at a time. We need you to be the very change that you want to see in this world. We need your hearts to feel the problem, accept it as how things have been, and love it into a new understanding and a new direction. It’s very simple really. It’s something you can start doing now. Human hearts are not unlike the hearts of our animal friends, and the heart of Mother Earth. All beat out the resounding cadence of Life itself.
But how do we humans begin to really use our hearts? Animals love unconditionally, live in the present, and are masters of expressing all aspects of their feelings. We humans, on the other hand, have all sorts of judgments and rules and regulations regarding those feelings. The human heart is the most regulated heart on the entire planet.
So what can you do to change that? So often we hear, “I am just one person. What can I do?” We challenge you with this thought. As one person, what can’t you do? The reality is, we are all one. All of us. The power of each of us to change this world is extraordinary. Witness Gandhi, King, Nightingale.
It’s so easy to touch another heart. A simple smile can make a difference in the day, indeed, the life, of the recipient of that smile. When any of us find ourselves getting upset, judgmental, irritated – if we’re in a traffic jam, late for an appointment, in a long line at the grocery store – if we just take a breath, look around, and feel the love that we have for Life, and convey that love with smiles and kind words – miracles will happen. Sounds too simple? Too idealistic? What good will it do? How does that stop animal abuse? Try it.
Kindnesses with which we touch hearts get passed along by those hearts to others. And this is the way to change the world. A person who feels loved and accepted, and who loves and accepts him or herself, will never willingly hurt or abuse any other living thing. Thus the cycle of abuse will end. Reach out to someone now. If you’ve had a falling out, stop worrying about who started what. Be the first to initiate the loving, the healing. If you are rebuffed, keep trying. Reach out to family, to friends, even to strangers. With smiles, with warmth, with love. And just watch what happens. This world can be either a cruel or a loving and compassionate place. The choice of what we experience and what we offer to this world is ours.
Animal abuse is not just a problem that resides within the person doing the abusing. It is a part of our society. As long as any person feels inferior, unloved, unwanted, judged, anything less than the beautiful being that they truly are, then we will have to keep dealing with this issue.
Our civilization is at a turning point. We can rise into the light or continue to fumble in darkness. At Spring Farm we are already watching brightly colored balloons of the human spirit rising into the sky. We believe that, one day soon, we won’t have to be talking of abuse, neglect, and negativity. We continue to pledge that every donated penny goes directly to our programs. And we will continue to network and reach out one heart at a time.
Let’s discover together what it really means to be humane. The animals are waiting for us to join them.