Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary - Mendon MASS
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MFS Welcomes New Members to Our Board of Directors

Above: Diane Stevens, Karen Bacon, and Marlene Calvao; not pictured: Chrissy Toti

Maple Farm Sanctuary is pleased to welcome four new members to our Board of Directors in 2019!

MFS Co-founders Jim and Cheri Vandersluis, the latter who serves as the sanctuary’s Executive Director, look forward to working with these dedicated individuals to help MFS grow and make a difference for even more animals in 2019 and beyond.

Read on to find out more about our new board members and their hopes for MFS, special animal bonds, and thoughts on the farm animal protection movement.

Marlene Calvao, Board President

Marlene has a professional background in business management and has worked for the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, a wide range of school systems, and the biotechnology sector. She has taken on just about every volunteer role at MFS, including serving as the sanctuary’s Tour Director for the past three years and networking on behalf of MFS with other sanctuaries and corporations.

Why did you join the MFS Board and what are your biggest hopes for the year ahead?

“I felt that my business knowledge and hands-on experience at the sanctuary could help bring it to the next level. Since MFS is a third generation farm, we are in need of major updates. I would like to see our incoming finances grow by tapping into programs such as corporate sponsorships and grants. We would also like to expand our education programs, hire more staff, and ultimately rescue more animals.”

Is there a particular animal, at MFS or otherwise, who has touched your heart in a significant way?

“Although I love every single animal at the sanctuary, Putt Putt the goat has the strongest hold on my heart. His struggles from the time he was only a few weeks old and could barely walk until today would dampen anyone's spirit. But when you walk into the barn he is always looking for you and happy just to be alive. Although he is a large goat with horns, he's very sweet, gentle, and innocent, like a baby.”

What do you think is the most critical issue for farm animal protection right now, and how can farm animal sanctuaries play a role in solving it?

“It is extremely difficult for me to pick just one issue. As for how sanctuaries can make a difference, I would say through education and tours, by which people are able to experience the human-animal bond. Visiting a sanctuary and meeting the animals is life changing. Many people have never been to a farm or sanctuary and have no idea that these animals are sentient beings. The animals are themselves their biggest advocates.”

Karen Bacon, Clerk

Karen is an attorney by training and currently works for Commonwealth Medicine. She has always had a strong interest in animal rights, including completing an internship with Gary Francione and the Animal Rights Law Center at Rutgers College of Law. Karen also runs Positive Change for Animals, a volunteer group that encourages people to join together to change the social context of the animal rights movement.

Why did you join the MFS Board and what are your biggest hopes for the year ahead?

“I joined the board at the request of other members, and out of a desire to help both the animals of the farm and the very dedicated people I met. The farm is a living model for animal rights, providing the direct opportunity for people to interact with farm animals and see how similar they are to the pets whom they adore. 

“My vision for the farm is that it continues to be a restful sanctuary as well as an active educational center and public outreach organization that promotes a gentler way of life for all animals and people.”

Is there a particular animal, at MFS or otherwise, who has touched your heart in a significant way?

Gail, a former dairy cow, is an example of the miraculous and generous attitude of many rescued farm animals. Although she had been a dairy cow for almost a decade and had countless babies taken away as well as deprived of their mother’s milk, she is accepting and loving towards people who visit her.

“Originally shy, scared, and standoffish, Gail now readily accepts human attention and has restored trust in people, as they care for her now rather than take away from her.”

What do you think is the most critical issue for farm animal protection right now, and how can farm animal sanctuaries play a role in solving it?

“In my opinion, the most critical mission of sanctuaries today is to serve as living models for the future of animal rights. Sanctuaries need to be capable of striking the right balance between rescue and protection of abused farm animals with serving as key, hands-on educational centers that actively engage the public and work to change our relationship with farm animals. Ultimately, that is necessary if we want a better future for all farm animals.”

Diane Stevens,Treasurer

Diane worked as a CPA at World Education, a non-profit dedicated to education, for nearly 25 years before retiring in 2015. In 1994, she began volunteering at a Greyhound adoption center and realized there was a significant need to help retired racing Greyhounds. In 1999, she founded and became Executive Director of Greyhound Rescue of New England Inc., a small non-profit dedicated to saving retired greyhounds that has placed close to 1,000 dogs in loving homes.

Why did you join the MFS Board and what are your biggest hopes for the year ahead?

“Living in Mendon, I have known Cheri and Jim for many years. Their dedication to saving and loving farm animals as well as living a compassionate lifestyle is so very evident. Being a vegan myself for almost 20 years, I strongly agree with their vegan lifestyle and also have a fondness for needy farm animals.

“Going forward, I hope to help MFS further implement important policy and finance systems that will give management the tools necessary to make sound organizational decisions so MFS will continue to thrive and communicate compassionate living to a wide audience.”

Is there a particular animal, at MFS or otherwise, who has touched your heart in a significant way?

“In 1994, I bought a house in Mendon and decided to save some farm animals from slaughter, so I adopted two goats and a cow. My jersey cow Chestnut was my Zen master—such a character! From cuddling for love, to roaming the neighborhood for greener pastures, Chestnut loved her life. I learned that farm animals have very unique personalities, needs and wants, abilities to please and be pleased, and their very own souls. I learned about the interconnectness of all life from Chestnut. I believe saving her from slaughter was one less act of violence and it mattered.”

What do you think is the most critical issue for farm animal protection right now, and how can farm animal sanctuaries play a role in solving it?

“I feel that the pain of factory farming is harming the environment as well as the psyche of the globe. I believe farm sanctuary tour programs, by which people can experience farm animals up close and personal, are awesome learning experiences. Educational presentations in which people can hear not only about the problems and pains of factory farming but also about solutions and how they can help, are essential.”

Chrissy Toti

Chrissy has been a Private Investigator for the last 20 years. Her job not only enables her to be out in the field but also gives her the flexibility to volunteer regularly at MFS. Since September 2016, Chrissy has taken on various volunteer roles, including doing hands-on barn cleaning, supervising other barn volunteers, and helping with animal care and events. She is also very active in the local vegan community and founded the Rhode Island Vegan Lady Gang.

Why did you join the MFS Board and what are your biggest hopes for the year ahead?

“MFS is like a family to me and I really wanted to help and be a part of its growth and well-being. I feel that my love and dedication for the vegan cause is an asset to establishing a positive foundation for years to come. I hope to further spread awareness of the sanctuary’s incredible history and work, so that they can gain even more supporters and grow.”

Is there a particular animal, at MFS or otherwise, who has touched your heart in a significant way?

Gail is a 24-year-old retired dairy cow who was rescued by MFS 14 years ago. She was the first exposure I had to cows, and I instantly fell in love with her. Her eyes widen and her ears perk up when she sees me come through the door to spend time with her.”

What do you think is the most critical issue for farm animal protection right now, and how can farm animal sanctuaries play a role in solving it?

“Most people have no idea what actually happens in the farming industry. Farm sanctuaries are key to showing people that farm animals deserve the right to live, as they enable people to meet farm animals and learn about their stories. As more and more people’s eyes are opened to the treatment of these innocent animals, it will become easier to pass legislation to protect them and give them rights, ultimately abolishing the use of animals for food.”

The Top Five MFS News Articles of 2018

MFS works hard to keep our supporters informed about happenings at the sanctuary through our monthly e-newsletter, the Non-Dairy Digest. Each issue contains updates on our latest rescues, tips on compassionate living, and lots of adorable animal photos (If you haven’t subscribed, sign up today).

Here are the five Non-Dairy Digest articles that our supporters loved best in 2018:

Favorite Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes from MFS

We’re not at all surprised that an article on delicious vegan food topped our most-read list for 2018. Vegans love food, and Thanksgiving time is no exception! We’d like to extend a big thank you to all our volunteers who shared their favorite Thanksgiving recipes with the MFS community for this story.

Behind the Scenes: Volunteer Spotlight, Part 2

MFS volunteers also told readers about their special bonds with our animal residents in this second article in a two-part series. Check out Part 1 for even more heartwarming stories and photos.

MFS Rescued Sheep Tara Anna Featured on the Dodo!

We were thrilled that our beloved sheep Tara Anna was featured in a moving video from the Dodo, and obviously our supporters were too! The video—which highlights a bond between Tara Anna and a special young MFS supporter—is worth a second (or first) watch, so we encourage you to tune in.

MFS Rescues Neglected Alpaca

Supporters were as excited as we were when MFS welcomed our very first alpaca, Winslow, in July of 2018. Winslow had previously watched five of his companions pass away from neglect, but MFS soon gave him a new friend when we rescued our second alpaca, Merlin.

MFS Takes in Two New Potbellied Pigs

Another animal rescue story also cracked our most-read list: an article about Jack and Harriet, two potbellied pigs who came to live at MFS in June 2018. The duo were soon joined by rescued pig Chester, and all three are now inseparable.

Welcome Spanky and Brady

MFS has added two more animals to our herd: goats Spanky and Brady!

Spanky (above left) and Brady (above right) are Nigerian Pygmy cross goats who were being raised by a breeder to be sold for meat. A woman happened to see them shortly after they were put up for sale at just one year of age each. The two goats were clearly terrified as they stood together in a tiny cage, and the woman just knew she could not go home without them.

The woman later contacted MFS, and we were happy to offer the goats a home in December 2018. When they arrived, we could tell that they had not been fed properly, and we immediately provided them nutritious food, gave them their vaccinations, and—because they are both males—had them neutered.

Both Spanky and Brady are quite shy because they have not received much attention from people or other animals, but we are confident they will come out of their shells once they get to know MFS volunteers and the many animals in our big goat barn. At just a little over one years old each, they are also the youngest animals at MFS, which means we will be able to provide them with a safe and loving home for many more years to come!

Above: Brady

Above: Spanky