Sanctuary Work is Service Work

Peace Ridge is a nonprofit organization that is mission-driven and service-oriented. This statement is one that should be true for all nonprofit organizations, but it is a guiding principle that is all too often lost in our capitalist society. You see, nonprofit organizations operate counter to most other endeavors. Nonprofit work is about what we can give, not what we can get. It is about those who we serve, not about ourselves.

For Peace Ridge, our mission is all about providing service for some of the most vulnerable beings amongst us – nonhuman animals, particularly those trapped in our broken food systems, but also for all nonhuman animals who need our help. We are here to serve animals and make their lives better. This means saving those we can, rehabilitating victims, giving them the best life possible, sharing their stories, and advocating effectively and honestly for those we can’t save.

Our work is grounded in action – we are actively working to create the world we want to see, here on the front lines of an important social justice movement that many in our society still easily dismiss. Which means that our dedication to the work is even more vital. To truly be service-centered, it means we’re here every day, actively working hard and doing as much as we can to further our mission and help those in need. This dedication to those we serve is a solemn promise we make to all our supporters, but first and foremost it is a promise we make to the animals.

If any nonprofit organization loses sight of who they serve or why they serve them, they are sure to get off track. It shouldn’t be a controversial statement to say that the animal rights and sanctuary movements should be focused on those we serve – the animals – and not on ourselves. This work isn’t about us, it is about them. We don’t see ourselves as heroines or saviors – because we aren’t. We are just people dedicated to serving marginalized beings who desperately need our help. And we believe, deep in our souls, that this work is needed and worth devoting our lives to. That is why if you’ve been following us for awhile (over our nearly 20 year history as an organization, or even for only a few months or years), you’ll see that we center our messaging on the animals and how we can all help them.

This work isn’t a hobby, it isn’t a personal endeavor, and it certainly isn’t about us. By choosing service-oriented work, we are deliberately making a different choice. And for those interested in doing this work and doing it well longterm, this needs to be a deliberate choice. Don’t get us wrong, everyone deserves to make a living wage and have a safe, comfortable place to live and security in their lives. We always have, and always will, be advocates for social justice for all beings – human or nonhuman – and believe an intersectional, one struggle approach is necessary for doing our work with integrity. This isn’t about taking a vow of poverty, this is about being happy with enough. We don’t want to get famous off the back’s of animals and we certainly don’t want to get rich off their backs either. In a society that teaches us to take, take, take and amass what we can (often at the expense of others), this philosophy can seem shocking. But should it be shocking? We say no. For those of us who feel drawn to service work, there is purpose and meaning in working for others that many struggle to find in this world.

We are always so busy doing the work that we often don’t have time to sit down and put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards) to talk about these important guiding principles that are integral to our work at PRS. But we want to try to find the time to do that more. Because these are important topics and we see more and more distrust amongst people who want to support service-oriented, mission-driven work but see more and more organizations focused more on bringing in money and elevating people than doing the work. We can do better than that. And those we serve count on us to do better than that.

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