By Chelsea Rose Moore

It’s not always easy for teenagers to trade weekends for volunteer work. But Wakefield School students found serving at the Middleburg Humane Foundation (MHF) to be a joy and a privilege. 

Over the course of six separate weekends in September and October, twenty high school students from Wakefield School helped the rescue move from its original location to the new farm shelter by transferring fencing and stall mats, stable equipment and furniture. And they spent time with the animals too. 

The Middleburg Humane Foundation specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals needing nurturing and medical care, and is working towards a goal of a humane and responsible community through outreach programs of assistance, education, and when necessary, intervention. Over the past five years, the MHF Board of Directors has been working to build a state-of-the-art equine rehabilitation and animal rescue facility on a 23-acre piece of land. 

“The Wakefield students diligently worked at some not-so-glamorous jobs as we moved equipment and supplies to the new farm,” said Rose Rogers, Middleburg Humane Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “They came with amazingly positive attitudes and never stopped working until each task they were assigned was complete. We could not have done the move without them.” 

Wakefield School’s vision is to foster capable citizens who seek challenges, make a difference, and live an extraordinary life in his or her own way, and it seems its students are taking that vision to heart. 

Reflecting on his time at the shelter, Josh Carey, a junior, shared, “I liked helping the community. Volunteering not only helps the shelter, but it helped me, too. It was fun working together to help animals in need, and it is good to know that you are making a contribution with your work.” During their work, students were also able to learn about the behind-the-scenes process of operating a shelter. 

“It was a good experience helping MHF transition from the old shelter to the new one,” said Alexis Woods, a junior, “As students, we got to see a lot of what the shelter does behind the scenes that most people don’t know about. We got to see just how much work goes into running a farm shelter.” 

The partnership between Wakefield School and MHF marks the renewal of a long-standing relationship between MHF and the Director of Student Services at Wakefield School, Dr. Amrit Daryanani, one of the original members of the MHF Board of Directors. 

“It is vitally important that our students be given the opportunity to be meaningfully involved in local organizations serving the public good,” Daryanani said. “It is especially heartwarming to see [students] so willingly serve the most vulnerable creatures amongst us, those who have no voice and who are totally reliant upon the goodwill and generosity of humans. It should give us all hope for the future, knowing that our next generation has the capacity for such authentic altruism.” 

Wakefield’s Director of Admissions, Gray Carr Bridgers, spoke to Dr. Daryanani’s dedication to the Middleburg Humane Foundation and the impact it has had on Wakefield students. 

“Dr. Daryanani has devoted a tremendous amount of her personal time to the shelter and to its program overall,” she said, “And over the years, she has infused her love and her passion for it with the students. She’s our counselor on campus, and when she feels like a student needs a little bit of a different focus, she’ll say, ‘Why don’t you meet me on Saturday and let’s hang out with animals?’ Students come back saying ‘I really needed that refocus.’ It’s her tool in her tool box for counseling. It’s a great way for our high school students to have a little bit of community involvement.” 

The fall volunteering came about when a group of students was visiting with Bridgers. Dr. Daryanani walked up to them and asked what they were doing on Saturday. From there, it grew as students returned on consecutive weekends and brought friends.

“Don’t give her a pause if she asks what you are doing on Saturday,” said Bridgers, laughing. ML

This article first appeared in the January 2020 issue of Middleburg Life.