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Wakefield Alumna Carries Service to Animals Beyond Volunteerism

Wakefield Alumna Carries Service to Animals Beyond Volunteerism
Tutt Stapp-McKiernan

During her time in Wakefield’s Upper School, alumna Sarah Graham ’08 was a central figure in Wakefield’s partnership with the Middleburg Humane Society, giving many hours in service to the animals there, especially those in need of some loving, nurturing, and trust-building.

Wakefield’s Director of Student Health and Wellness, Dr. Amrit Daryanani, who facilitates Wakefield’s service to the Middleburg Humane Society, wrote in 2020 of Sarah (still making time to drop in a dozen years after graduation) and a group of student volunteers,

“A visiting alumna is in the upper field spending time with a mare who is living with advanced cancer.  The mare has already lost one of her eyes to the disease and it is uncertain how long she has left to live.  Our small group is determined to fill her remaining days with love and kindness… The students and young adults in these groups have brought an abundance of good to the troubled days of this pandemic.  Guided by the spirit of altruistic compassion, they have developed the habit of giving of themselves to local causes dedicated to the relief of suffering and the promotion of individual and community well-being.  It is particularly powerful that they have remained committed to this work during these past weeks and months that have been so altered by COVID-19.”

Now, fourteen years after her graduation from Wakefield, Sarah has found—and founded—a new outlet for her love and compassion for neglected animals, one directly rooted in her formative volunteer experiences—she has started an animal sanctuary.

The name of Sarah’s new organization is Keeper’s Haven Animal Sanctuary, and its tagline, “Where every animal is a keeper,” says it all.

An animal sanctuary differs from an animal shelter. Whereas a shelter provides temporary housing and care for unhoused or unwanted animals and seeks to re-home them with new forever-families, a sanctuary is a long-term home, a final destination. Keeper’s Haven does not offer its animals for adoption. With residents ranging from a pig to a 25-year-old horse, Keeper’s Haven is a place where animals come to stay, living out their lives in safety and dignity, and with lots of love, factors that for many have long been absent from their experience.

According to the organization’s website, “Keeper's Haven Animal Sanctuary provides care, compassion and safe shelter for abused, abandoned and neglected companion animals of all ages. Helping one animal heal gathers us into community to help us all.”

Begun in 2022, the newly-minted sanctuary is still growing into its stated goal of “Helping animals through education, resources, and community outreach.” But despite its youth, Keeper’s Haven and its staff--Sarah, the organization’s Founder and Executive Director, and her partner in the venture, Marina Frano, Operations Coordinator, along with their enthusiastic volunteers—are already providing home and full-time care to eight animals: Fig, the potbellied pig, Biscuit the bulldog, four aged horses--three Thoroughbreds and a warmblood, ranging in age from 16 to 25 years, named Tika, Minnie, Frankie, and William--and two unbroken, wild crossbred colts, Theo and Elu.

Providing shelter, nutritious diet, veterinary care, and daily maintenance to often old or infirm animals of a variety of species—this takes not just love and patience, but funding. The KHAS website identifies several ways the community can help the sanctuary in its mission: making a donation (however big or small), sponsoring an animal, purchasing merchandise from their online store, volunteering time at the sanctuary, or joining in KHAS fundraising events. And for the latter (at least for adult animal lovers), an opportunity is coming right up!

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, KHAS is teaming up with Lost Barrel Brewing to promote “Love for the Animals,” on Feb 12, 2023, from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, at Lost Barrel Brewing, 36138 John Mosby Hwy, in Middleburg.

Learn more about Keeper’s Haven and Sarah and Maria’s work at