Volunteer Anne Fontana has organized a GoFundMe to raise much-needed funds for the rescued animals at The Haven at Skanda in Cazenovia. The nonprofit organization will welcome ten large rescued pigs this month. (Submitted)
By Kate Hill
This winter, The Haven at Skanda is raising funds to support all of its rescued animals and prepare for the arrival of ten 500-pound pigs.
Located at 4000 Mosley Rd. in Cazenovia, Skanda is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for rescued farm animals and offering educational, supportive and preventative programs to the public.
According to the organization’s website, The Haven at Skanda was founded to “provide a loving home to rescued and endangered animals where they can relax, live in their own natural rhythms of life, and emerge into who they really are.”
Skanda works in partnership with ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response team, as well as with local rescue organizations and occasionally private citizens.
Today, the farm is home to around 150 animals, including horses, miniature donkeys, goats, pigs, ducks and chickens.
The ten large pigs arriving this month were rescued from a severe cruelty situation by the ASPCA’s national rescue teams.
To prepare for the pigs’ arrival, Skanda has undertaken a number of construction and renovation projects, including the additions of suitable outdoor fencing, an automatic watering system, automatic garage doors, a soft crushed stone floor, heavy-duty feeding pads, improved lighting and ventilation, and a heated feed room.
“White Knight Construction are our contractors for this project, and they have done incredible work making sure costs stay as low as possible,” said Ellen Beckerman, Skanda’s executive director. “Still, this is an expensive project . . . ASPCA did give us a grant, which covers part of the cost of the renovations, [but] we need to cover the rest of the cost, about $10,000.”
Beckerman anticipates that, due to their size, the pigs will be costly to care for.
“We are happy to take them, but we also know it will be very expensive to feed and care for them,” she said. “Donations will help us buy food and bedding straw for them, to make sure they are warm and comfortable.”
Skanda also has a number of ongoing expenses, including veterinarian care, hay and grain, and equipment repairs.
According to Beckerman, Skanda’s expenses are considerably higher during the wintertime.
“The winter months are incredibly challenging for the farm,” she said. “Temperatures make it hard for animals to go out; snow and frozen ground means they cannot forage for natural food; and storms and cold cause damage to roofs, fences and plumbing, which all require immediate repair. Our food and bedding costs are much higher in the winter because the animals are indoors more.”
Recently, Skanda volunteer Anne Fontana, PhD, spearheaded an effort to support the organization and its work by launching an online GoFundMe campaign.
“The Haven needs money to operate [and] it is a very worthwhile cause,” said Fontana, who works as a clinical psychologist. “Programs at [Skanda] benefit at-risk children and individuals who come from abusive circumstances. I believe that animals have a unique effect on people, especially people with special needs. My son, Georgie, has autism and has grown from his experiences with animals. He participated in equine therapy for years, so I witnessed firsthand the benefits of pairing animals and children together.”
The campaign team currently includes Fontana, Beckerman, Skanda founder Marion Secor, and friends of Skanda Lynne Dundas, Piama Gilbert and PJ Will.
To join the team, contact [email protected]
Fontana volunteers at Skanda once a week to feed and spend time with the animals and help out wherever she is needed.
She began volunteering in April 2019 with her daughter, Olivia (Livy) Gescheider, who needed to fulfill her high school community service requirement.
“I decided to make volunteering together a joint mother-daughter venture to drive home the lesson to Livy that volunteering should occur at every age and because it [seemed like] fun,” Fontana said. “We decided to volunteer at [Skanda] because we both love animals and have a soft spot for animals that have been abused and mistreated.
Livy, who is now a freshman at Syracuse University, joins her mother at the farm as often as she can.
Thanks to an anonymous supporter, every GoFundMe donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Donations are 100 percent tax deductible.
According to Beckerman, about 85 percent of Skanda’s funding comes from donations.
“It is because of the generosity of donors that Skanda is able to provide this loving home to abused animals where they can recover and go on to live good lives,” Beckerman said. “Without donors, Skanda would not exist . . . And all amounts make a difference.”
In addition to donating to the GoFundMe, supporters can also donate bags of grain to the pigs by putting money on Skanda’s account at JJ Feeds, Inc. in Lafayette. Additionally, for $10/month, a family or classroom can sponsor a pig. Sponsors will receive monthly updates with photos and invitations to special sponsor-only events at Skanda.
Skanda is also offering promotional benefits to businesses interested in contributing to the cost of the pig barn.
To learn about becoming a sponsor, contact [email protected]
For more information on the organization, visit thehavenatskanda.org.
To donate, visit THE HAVEN FARM ANIMAL SANCTUARY GoFundMe page at gofundme.com.
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