Volunteer Spotlight: Kathleen Jefferies

As the fifth anniversary of the founding of Luvin Arms approaches, I find myself reminiscing about the fun, the challenges, the friendships, the collaboration that goes into such an adventure. Yes, it has been an adventure.

Five short years, but look how we have evolved! My orientation in 2015 was led by Shaleen (Co-Founder of Luvin Arms). A small group of us were shown around the Lafayette location, introduced to the two hens, two pigs, three goats and three horses, and given guidelines on care for the residents. Now, we have a formal schedule, engaging eager volunteers on a regularly scheduled basis and sometimes they fill up.

On my first volunteer shift, I got myself locked in the hen enclosure which was a rather small (4’x8’?) free-standing structure. Fellow volunteer Carla Urquidi heard my shouts and came to let me out. Now, we all know about the rope to pull to exit. The next summer, while tossing water into the pigs’ mud pit, I followed it in. Fortunately, Erik Michael grabbed my hand before I completely submerged. I’m sure many have made the same slip. A few months later, I was standing next to Peter (the pig) who was snuggled into the hay. He raised his head and I went flying! I flew up in the air, my hat and glasses went flying, too, and I landed flat on my back. Tracy Donaldson who witnessed the entire event (and helped me up while laughing hysterically) gives the best account. I was just standing there and then I was flat on my back. That’s all I know!

It was truly a time of adventure and learning. Shilpi was furiously researching to find info on animal care – diet, housing, medical care – so much to learn. We were also dealing with very clever residents. Determined and clever pigs could use their very strong, adaptable noses to open their doors. And does anyone know how Alfie let the hens out and got himself locked in their enclosure? I do commiserate with Alfie on that trick.

The most impactful revelation came as Shaleen was sending info to me to write bios on our residents. It was then that I realized our dear Franklin and Felix were the two pigs that had been the subject of a petition I’d signed in the summer of 2015. The petition had been successful in rescuing the two as their residency at a historical farm was ending. I’m sure many of you signed that petition, also. I tear up each time I think of it.

This was all before we purchased the 40 acres in Erie and moved to our current location.

Now we are adapting to our pandemic situation. Immediately after the pandemic restrictions were put into place, Luvin Arms began offering virtual visits. A representative from Luvin Arms pops into virtual meetings of all sorts happening around the world with an animal resident and then gives a virtual tour, depending on the time requested. What an exciting way to spread joy in a time when people are feeling very restricted. As a volunteer, I became involved in providing administrative support from home. Prior to the visit, I send an email introducing Luvin Arms and providing any info they need for their visit. This email includes my cell phone in case there are glitches at the time of their visit or if they make any changes to the meeting link.

Now we are here at Luvin Arms 5th Anniversary. We now have a beautiful location that is ours with structures designed for our residents.  Over the years we have developed a dedicated and hardworking staff who, along with volunteers, provide consistent, loving care for our residents. The vision for the future includes the necessary planning and structure to assure Luvin Arms will be a sanctuary for those who are fortunate to be rescued and a place for compassionate people to find community and promote a compassionate lifestyle well into the future. How fortunate we are to be a part of this amazing community.

Kathleen Jefferies, longtime volunteer at Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary

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