Help the pigs
Richard talks about the fire
(Long time family friend)

Richard visiting at the sanctuary

Earlier this year, March 10th, my 21st birthday, I received a gift not asked for or anticipated in any way. At a time when I was still getting used to my era of adulthood and looking forward to my first legal drink, my eyes were opened to whole new realms of responsibility and conscious decision making -resulting from the one night I decided to spend in the education center at Pig's Peace Sanctuary. I still sit in amazement at how much an event can inflect change in the life of an individual.

Some readers may remember a previous newsletter in which the education center caught fire and there was a call for volunteers. Those with keen memories will recall that a friend of the family escaped unharmed. If you have not guessed by now, I will tell you: I am that lucky, fortunate friend. Details about who I am are of small importance when viewed in light of what I learned from the night. As to my gift, I speak of the gift of another day and strength to continue as a better person because of enlightenment.

That being said, I will begin.

Birthdays are typically accompanied by a celebration. Hopefully, if this is not the case, birthdays are spent with enjoyable company. My birthday was no exception and I chose to be with Judy's son, Nathan, at the sanctuary this year.

When it came time to retire for the night, I decided to sleep on the hide-a-bed in the education center; there was already a fire going and the room was warm. Nathan went into the house to sleep.

Around 2:00 a.m. I woke suddenly from my dreams, sat up, and dipped my hair into a blanket of smoke filling the top half of the room. At the time I was disoriented and didn't know what was going on. It didn't take long for me to figure it out. Now looking back, I realize that waking up was my first gift because I know many similar cases have proved different to those who sleep on as they breathe deadly smoke.

I ran outside and across the yard to grab the hose. For some strange reason the water was not working that night. There was nothing to do but to call the fire department and wait. I woke the family. We could only stand and watch as a building filled with many wonderful memories was slowly devoured by growing flames. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before and I watched silently, wondering why I was chosen to experience such a thing.