Letters of Support for OmFly

Good Afternoon-
This is is on behalf of the wonderful programs at the Sanctuary but most specifically their circus camp run by Jen Taylor.  We are new to their program last summer and as a result we have had an incredible experience and year with our daughter.
A little back ground, Charlotte has been an epileptic since she turned two months old. Things like balance, strength and coordination have always been issues as she has grown and as a result it has left us with a frustrated child who is hesitant to try new things and meet children. If any of you have met Charlotte over the years at Shagbark, she is charming with adults but you may not know she is very hesitant around children her own age and in new environments. We have had to make her a product of safety – swim lessons became “if you feel strange in the pool get to the side.” Trips to the playground were fears about slides and tall platforms. Youth soccer she couldn’t process fast enough – frustration became a part of every practice. Always before starting something new she has the conversation with us about what if something happens, what do I do, what about the other kids – what will they think.
Charlotte loves to dance and loves art. She loves to find ways to express herself. The sign for circus camp went up last spring and I thought- this is something she would like. We had the conversations and I assured her that Jen knew and she was safe. I would pick her up in the afternoon and she would chatter away about her amazing day, what she did, the farm, the goat, her instructors. That she was hanging in the silks and somersaulting over the ball!  Sure we had the what if conversation but after that first day it seemed ok – that things were going to be ok. She couldn’t wait to go back. The Sanctuary emits this feeling of peace. She never seemed worried that she couldn’t climb as well as some of the others, the families that have been drawn to this special place accept and encourage. There was never a question if she could do something. There was never a question about feeling different because she may have a seizure, everyone there accepted her for her.
As a result Charlotte has continued to work with Jen since last August. My child can fly because of Jen and her guidance and encouragement. Our physical therapist and our neurologist are amazed by how far she has come in under a year.  I hope many children will have a similar chance to fly and to know how special the Sanctuary is. We are a community that embraces the arts in East Haddam. From our amazing opera house, our music, our resident artists, this is part of our towns magic.  Let more children( and adults) come sit and embrace what this amazing program has to offer.
Samantha Hedberg
202 Haywardville Rd
East Haddam, CT

Dear Jen –

Thank you!  I wanted to let you know what a special week this was for Molly.  She loved everything about the circus camp!  Molly has pretty severe ADHD. I think she is often misunderstood. School is a hard place for her.  They spend so much time and energy focusing on her weaknesses that her gifts are often overlooked.

I have always told her that someday we would find “her thing” and “her people.”  On Thursday she announced that she has found her place and her people. Molly also has some anxiety.  She has always been a nail biter and has asked for help stopping.  On Thursday she said, “This has been one of the best weeks of my life.  I haven’t even bitten my nails all week!”

I just can’t thank you enough.  I can’t believe how much her self esteem and confidence has grown in 5 days.  I am so happy we found you!


Michelle O’Rourke

East Haddam, CT

 Dear Friends of the Circus –
This Summer will be the 5th consecutive year that my 3 girls will participate in The Sanctuary’s Circus Camp. Weeks after we moved to East Haddam the girls began their first session. I cannot find the words to express what that experience was like for my family. We knew no one & the girls were excited and appropriately nervous. Jen Taylor and crew were wonderful. They welcomed us and made the girls feel safe and at home. The environment sets the tone. Music is playing and the field is breathtaking. Kids are spending the day in nature while honing new skills and creating bonds with peers and their elders. At the end of each session comes the performance. Kids help each other prepare their costumes, hair, makeup &practice, parents pack foods to share, extended family & friends begin to arrive…. Guests spread out on the grass and there are no bad seats. The performance is nothing short of surreal. The theme is well thought out & the message is always of kindness, teamwork, togetherness. 
Each year my girls look forward to camp & catching up with everyone. I look forward to bringing them as well. The Sanctuary is 5 minutes from my home & I leave the girls in good hands. The hardest part is getting them to leave at the end of the day! My youngest daughter has separation anxiety & Jen has gently guided her & built up her confidence. Last year was the first time Zoë was comfortable enough to perform with her peers. This was a priceless gift. 
I think so much of Jen & her program that I attempted to have her perform for our East Haddam Elementary School family night fundraiser. It didn’t work out as “swinging from the rafters” is a hard no in the high school auditorium!I n reality, the atmosphere at The Sanctuary cannot be replicated so it may have been a blessing (it wouldn’t have been the same). She was open to other suggestions that were community based but the school year got away from me. I’d like to reiterate how vital I feel Circus Camp is to our community and how the natural environment at The Sanctuary is a integral part of that. I know you can’t please everyone but Jen sure tries!
Nicole Herold

A Unicorn & Her Shadow – Minerva Watches / Circus Baubo OmFly Spring 2016

Letters of Support for the Sanctuary

To Whom It May Concern:
I support the beautiful continuing of events at the Sanctuary. The communal experiences I share there have strengthened important life tools I use to help my personal and spiritual growth. The community is a joyous, peaceful one that appreciates the beauty of the land and the people. I walk onto the property and am greeted with smiles, a serene view and, of course, the friendly animals that reside there. The land brings me peace and reminds me of the beauty all around us. The community brings me hope, love and acceptance; three important things I was seeking when I found the Sanctuary. 
I met Jen Taylor seven years ago through our mutual love for circus arts. That bridge led me to the Sanctuary. When I met Jen Taylor, I was struggling with a vicious cycle of sobriety and relapse from opiates. I tried NA meetings and reaching out to other addicts but there was always a feeling of judgment and superiority from those that I spoke with. Jen Taylor and Justin Good welcomed me into their community without judgments on my past or my then current situation. They opened my mind and heart to a new, effective approach of how I wanted to live. I had finally found the acceptance I had been seeking for so long. Since then, I have volunteered, participated and helped organize special events. I was asked to join the board five years ago and accepted without hesitation. I was also asked to help with OmFly’s summer circus program and that brought my beauteous transformation in even deeper. I was able to witness the joy, confidence, love and beauty circus brings to the children. Being a part of that made me feel like I was contributing to something bigger than myself. The feelings and actions of being a selfish addict have slowly dissipated over the years and I can truly say that the Sanctuary plays a huge part in that. I still struggle from time to time but the difference now is that I have a place to go and people to talk to. I now have a community.
What the Sanctuary does for the community and what it has done for me should be accessible to anyone who needs it. I needed it. I still need it. I was not sure exactly what I was looking for until I found the Sanctuary. It is a safe place for me. It is the place I go to reconnect to the Earth and myself. It is where I found the community that accepts and loves me for me.
Dani Bobbi Lee

Sun over the Yurt / The Sanctuary – East Haddam, CT

Dear Community,
The Sanctuary at Shephardfields has been a beacon of light in my healing from depression caused by physical and emotional abuse. I never felt as at peace as when I am on this expansive land in a secluded and quiet corner of East Haddam which for me has truly represented a Sanctuary.
In my times of need, I feel welcome to join an uplifting event on the premises and quietly walk the perimeter of this treasured retreat joined at times by the friendly and gentle animals which live on the land. It is here where I am able to process what flows through my heart, mind and the Spirit.I have learned to forgive and love unconditionally from my relationship with nature who has deepen my connection with what many call God.
I feel my prayers are at their clearest when I am able to commune with the earth, the wind, the sky and the Spirit within. I feel connected to all those who prayed in this same way years ago and now I can see why.
Thank you Sanctuary for existing and welcoming me, thank you for what you offer to the community and to the children who I feel desperately need to step away from their devices and touch the earth. Thank you for your hard work at maintaining such a healthy eco-system where birds, animals and people thrive. Thank you for being an example of what it means to put love in all you do. I am forever grateful.
Yours Truly,
Kate Novack

To Whom this may concern:

May this letter find you in good spirits. This is a message intended to highlight the tremendous positive impact that Jenny Taylor and Justin Good in combination with The Sanctuary’s land have made on me my family. We are forever grateful and indebted to them for the care, devotion, and love they provide to the land and the community.

I have searched for community for very long and have yet to find a community that offers the support, love, and education that Jenny and Justin provide through The Sanctuary’s Land Trust. The combination of the sacred land along with Jenny and Justin’s wholehearted goodness, endless effort, and devotion to inclusive community is unparalleled in this area.

Since being introduced to The Sanctuary, I have gained a clearer understanding of my true nature, have been shown what it means to be true stewards of the land, and have be able to see a true, loving community in full bloom.

My life has opened up to love, happiness, and peace thanks to the healing that has inevitably stemmed from The Sanctuary.

Sincerely yours,

Kelly Henriques

To Whom it May Concern,
I’ve been coming to events at the sanctuary for five or more years now and I am so grateful to have a place where I can connect with people, make friends, and be myself. I’ve made a lot of great and lasting friendships at the sanctuary because Jenny and Justin create such a welcoming and trusting atmosphere. I bring my daughters (now 4 and 6), my parents and more recently my mother in law and despite all of us having different political and spiritual outlooks, it’s been a place to find common ground and connect more authentically. I am so grateful to have such an open community and for the work that Jenny and Justin do in making everyone who enters their space feel comfortable.
I feel comfortable speaking for the larger community when I say thank you to everyone who supports the sanctuary and thank you to Jenny and Justin for so beautifully carrying out the vision of holding space for an ever growing and blossoming community.
Thank you,
Lucy MacNaught

Dear Sanctuary –

The Sanctuary’s Meditation and Course in Miracles classes have been a godsend to me when I have seen my way up there to attend them. They have opened up a new world that I firmly believe is in line with the true spirit of Christian teachings. Teachings that are also mirrored by, in, and around other religions/faiths world wide. The land there and the events Jen Taylor and Justin Good have throw have given me a home away from home.A place to heal from the mistrust and defensiveness that can be our world at times, and given me the understanding and strength to be present with these human traits and not contribute but seek to heal and be a source of guidance. I do not know if I could have ever found that on my own without The Sanctuary, the people there, and the welcoming of all faiths program Jen and Justin have developed. They have truly created a space that lives up to its name.And for that I will forever be grateful. And I know I am not the only one that has been touched in this way by the land and all the Sanctuary community has offered us. I love this place and everything that has been created so much I have introduced my wife to it and I have been really looking forward to introducing my son to it after he is born this October. I have been dreaming of the day he can join Jenny in the circus.

Much love,


To whom it may concern,
I came to the Sanctuary in 2012. I was in my mid 20’s, a soon to be UConn graduate in a busting economy and poor job market with $70,000 in loans. Despite this grim outlook I wasn’t fazed by the challenges, but I was terrified because I had no direction.
I was raised catholic, baptized, made my first communion, attended CCD regularly, church every Sunday, the whole gamut. I remember once walking into a church when mass was not in session by myself and taking a seat in one of the back pews. I sat there for nearly an hour with tears literally pooling in my lap asking god for a direction. It was more or less at that moment that I had come to realize everything I was taught in my religious studies was not going to be able to help me anymore. I needed to find something more to acquire the peace I was seeking. I also remember many times running into the forest behind my father’s house when I was upset. I would ask god to show me a sign. To show me something, anything that could help me to understand life, if god was real, and the pain I felt. Every time I was met with the sounds of the forest. Chirping birds, rustling wind and insects calling to each other. It was always a very tranquil experience as if god was silently, yet more loudly than anything else telling me to open my eyes to the world around me. Telling me to focus here and that I am loved.
The Sanctuary opened its doors to me and offered the most grounded experiences I have ever had. Unlike many institutional religions, I was able to go to the Sanctuary and talk with the directors, Jenny and Justin in a very real way. I often spoke of life issues that most people would make me feel I was wrong to even have an issue with in the first place. Specific things in life such as environmental destruction and the American Dream. I constantly questioned how so many people can fall victim to believing their actions are noble and pure when all I was witnessing was destruction and oppressive behavior for the gain of the individual. Interestingly, that is truly the crossroads we as a species currently find ourselves at. If we continue to try and grow the economy according to an old playbook, indoctrinate our youth to strive for an outdated expectation of life, we threaten to destroy this planet. However, we also need security, warmth and food. The Sanctuary helped me to understand that in life we must take in order to survive. We must kill things to eat and have shelter. We must deny potential life of other things so that we can have the space to exist. But that does not grant us the right to take thoughtlessly. Spending time at the Sanctuary over the years and through precious conversations with the directors, as well as countless hours in the forest and talking with god, I became aware that there exists a very beautiful place we can live in. I learned how to live in this place by taking only what I needed. I learned how to live by giving back to others, giving back to the land and this planet. I discovered the value of cleaning up others trash when I walked through the forest. But, most importantly I learned the magic that exists when we let go of taking things for ourselves so that we can allow another life to exist. 
If I had $70,000 I would donate it to the Sanctuary in hopes that others may experience similar insights and learn of the precious space we as humans can exist in, a place in between taking and giving, necessity and beauty.
All of my love to you Jenny and Justin. For the work that you do and the space that you protect.
To whom it may concern,
I was introduced to The Sanctuary in 2012. I’d recently moved from a difficult divorce to Middletown, CT. I time I truly felt alone for the first time and had to figure myself and life out. In my connecting to the Sanctuary through their regularly held meditations and getting to know Directors Justin and Jenny helped open up new perspectives for me. A perspective that deeply
connected with nature, community and the true inclusion of all faiths and ideas that uplift humanity as a whole.
The events held here range from all traditions. Some of which I’ve come to know are the traditions of Native Americans, Hinduism, Catholic, Buddhist, Vedic, Muslim and more. They bring light to the harsh realities of the ways in which oppression is very much a reality for many people today in many different ways. These hardships and stories are the pathways that also bring awareness of better ways of living. To learn from the stories of these traditions, grounded in love and compassion for the environment that continues to sustain and give. Love and compassion for the sacred teachings of these many traditions to heal ourselves and each other in open communication and community.
The hardest and most rewarding work is the honest work of letting go of false beliefs, self imposed limitations and this truly is a call for celebration. In volunteering my own time to help with the events held at the Sanctuary I see first hand the joy of coming together and sharing experience and accomplishment through song, dance and play with friends and loved ones. I have not known a time when Jenny and Justin have not been mindful of their surroundings to their neighbors and been accommodating. I do believe the offerings of the Sanctuary are important to expand upon. To not only bring more awareness to others but I feel in doing so will also bring support to local businesses in the area. I hope you reconsider the allotment of their reach. I whole heartedly support their efforts.
Truth, Peace and Sincerely,
Martine E. Persico