When Marc Daoust and his family moved to Bradford five and a half years ago across from an animal sanctuary, they had no idea just how much it would change their lives.
Shortly after the family moved to town, one of Daoust’s daughters, Tristan, decided she wanted to volunteer at the sanctuary to help with the animals at neighbouring Wishing Well Sanctuary.
At the time, Tristan was under 16 and required a parent to attend her volunteer shifts with her. Despite having zero experience with animals, Doust offered to tag along anyways.
“When we first arrived, we were assigned various tasks,” remembers Daoust. “Our big task for a long time was cleaning the sheep house – it’s really dirty and takes a long time, but she wanted to participate, so I was willing to help.”
Tristan and her dad continued to volunteer at the sanctuary for almost two years before she moved away to start her own family in another city. That's when Doust stopped volunteering at the sanctuary as well.
Two years later, Daoust received a call from Brenda Bronfman, the owner of Wishing Well Sanctuary, asking for his help back at the sanctuary which had just lost several of its volunteer helpers.
At the time, Daoust was looking for a change of pace from his corporate job as a vice president of a bank, so he took the job that had become available at the sanctuary.
“I think fate plays a big part, life is like that,” he says about his career change.
At first, Daoust was just part-time but still working five days a week. Eventually, he was promoted to full-time facility manager of the Wishing Well Sanctuary where he has been employed for the past three years.
“Before, I was always chasing money so my kids could do whatever they want and have a good life,” he shares. “But now in my 50s, I am working with animals which is much easier than people.”
On top of feeding and caring for the animals and daily routine maintenance required on the property, Daoust also helps train new student volunteers who visit the sanctuary.
“When they arrive they are assigned a task,” he shares about new volunteer recruits. “When you have a lot of volunteers, tasks get missed, but there’s always a team leader that’s directing the task to make things right.”
Additionally, Daoust and his wife have run several fundraising initiatives for the sanctuary, including ‘hay drives’ where they have personally sold masks and soaps to raise money for more straw for the animals. As well, the couple is the creators of the new ‘glamping’ experience on-site.
“My dad had a trailer that we weren’t using so we brought it to the Wishing Well for overnight stays,” he says, adding they converted the trailer and space on the property into a ‘glamping getaway spot’ for visitors. “We don’t get enough from donors to cover all the costs here, so my goal was to raise more money through this add-on.”
Doust was born and raised in Brantford, Ont. and attended school for physics, originally wanting to become a professor.
He says it was his father who taught him the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community. His dad coached him in soccer his entire childhood.
“He would leave work early to go take the kids to practice and the games – he was just an exceptional guy that way."
Following in his father's footsteps, Doust coached his children's soccer teams and volunteered all throughout high school as a soccer referee and coach.
Sadly, Daoust’s father passed away in April of this year. He shares that watching his father coach his soccer team as a kid instilled the values that he carries with his job at the sanctuary today.
He adds, “I think every person in a community has a responsibility to help one another and this is our way of helping. I truly think it makes a person helping others, and the act of helping is more rewarding than anything else.”
Doust and his wife Annette have been married for 10 years and have five children ranging in age from 16 to 24. The couple also has one grandson who will be turning three in February.
The Wishing Well Sanctuary is celebrating its 10 year anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., located at 2710 10th Line, Bradford. Tickets can be purchased online here.
For more information about the event or to volunteer, visit: www.wishingwellsanctuary.org