Story Book Farm getting a boost from new organization looking to help local charities

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Boo and Gerdie

KAWARTHA LAKES-Boo and Gerdie were neurological test monkeys before finding their way to Story Book Farm near Manilla.

“Boo and Gerdie were used in some research at a University and their people that took care of them, the vet techs and the graduate students, wanted them to be retired so they contacted us and we said we would accept them and they were successfully retired,” Animal Care Manager at Story Book Farm, Kim Meehan told Kawartha 411.

The farm, near Manilla, became known after the Darwin the Monkey saga a few years ago but it is home to 18 primates today.  Animals that otherwise would may not be alive today. “It’s the only life they have. If we weren’t here they wouldn’t be alive probably, for a lot of them, it’s the end of the road, ” according to Meehan.

Meehan has a Degree in Zoology from Guelph University. She worked at the Toronto Zoo for 20 years before coming to Story Book Farm. Her interest in Monkeys started when she was a little girl. ” I’ve always liked monkeys since I was a little girl. I had a stuffed spider monkey as a little girl, I used to take it everywhere with me. Some people are just born that way.” she says with a laugh.

Meehan says while all of the animals at the farm have sad stories she likes to focus on a storybook ending. Cheeko is one of those happy endings. ” Sometimes people who have primates as pets don’t really know what they are doing,” she says. Cheeko was in a greenhouse and had four items in his diet, one was peanut butter, one was eggs and two theories that weren’t particularly monkey friendly so he had a lot of dental disease.” Meehan found Cheeko a dentist in Little Britain  and the transformation was unbelievable. ” She did surgery and removed ten teeth. Since then he’s a different monkey. He’s very active and engaged with people, his hair has grown back and he’s enjoying a much happier life.”

Kim and Cheeko

Story Book Farm is a registered charity and relies on donations to stay afloat. Thats where COACT KL comes in. COACT stands for Collaborative Action Kawartha Lakes.  Co-Founder Patricia Sheppard says their goal is to help rural non-profits be successful. ” We provide resources, support and collaboration for non-profits, especially rurals.” And especially smaller organizations. “Smaller groups who need help, who need a bigger voice who want to make a larger impact.” says Sheppard. She says the changing landscape and the aging population are all things that make it more difficult for a rural non-profits. “We have a graphic designer, we have a promotional and marketing department and we also have our collaborative events and our charitable programming.”

“We are working with nursing homes, and we are doing some craft based therapy programs.” says Carolyn Carter, Co-Founder COACT. We go into a spot every one or two weeks and we do some art that is also increases their dexterity makes them feel better and in order to support that we have events coming up where you can build a barn board.” It’s similar to the paint parties. All of the profit goes back to buying supplies for the seniors crafts. The hope it can be eventually used across Canada.

Another program they are working on is called “Forgotten Skills” pairing up older residents with young people to learn long lost arts. Things such as cursive writing, pickling and seeing etc. “I was in a local school and I found out that sewing isn’t taught anymore and I was shocked.” she says. “The students were telling me they want to learn how to sew.”

Every grouping is a pairing with a younger person and an older person and together they develop a list or a goal list of what they want to work on and together they learn.” And that becomes something that other non profits could take on.

Story Book farm recently spent about $40,000 on renovations. Meehan says fundraising is challenging. ” It’s a very big challenge to keep going because we are solely relying on donations from the public as well as some of our board of directors.”

They also have an artist at Story Book who’s works are in demand and help raise money. Pockets Warhol paints under the guidance of one of the volunteers at the Sanctuary and his works are sold in the gift shop gallery.

COACT is helping out with a new graphic design for their T-shirts and working on some new programs. It costs $5,000 to $10,000 a year just to keep the doors open.

Wannabe movie star Mr Jenkins also calls Story Book home. “Mr Jenkins was trained to pick up a telephone for a commercial, unfortunately he was not that cooperative and didn’t do the shoot when it was required so they decided they didn’t want to keep him anymore so they put him up for auction and our founder acquired him.”

Kim Meehan, Carolyn Carter, Patricia Sheppard, Karen Pennings

And he lived happily ever after!

For more information click here: http://www.storybookmonkeys.org/default.htm

Click here for more information on COACT KL http://www.coactkl.org/home.html