Anne Hoffman is an Illinois-certified educator of the visual arts, art therapy and reading who is equally adept at employing her business management and non-profit skills to carry out her many extracurricular activities. Anne serves on the Keystone Foundation Board of Trustees, Glenkirk’s Community Support Committee, NCDAA’s Just Say No Committee, the Have a Heart Farm Board of Directors and the Wagner Farm Rescue Fund Board of Directors. Quite clearly she is passionate about helping people, animals and the environment, even finding time and energy outside of her busy family life to organize local community groups, such as ChicagoVeg Kids. So we wanted to to know just a bit more about what makes this remarkable woman tick.
What personal values or experiences motivate you to do the work you do?
Ever since I was a child I can remember feeling the suffering of animals and I did what little I could do to help them. In junior high school I saw a movie about agriculture and for the first time realized that meat came from once-living animals. From that day on I became vegetarian and became involved with the animal rights movement. I also stopped wearing leather, silk and wool and began to purchase cruelty-free personal care items. Then about ten years ago, I finally stopped denying the massive animal suffering that the dairy and egg industries create and became a dedicated vegan. For a long time I felt I was doing enough be just leading by example until about a year ago when I realized that was not enough for me. I had to make more of a difference.
Tell us about your non profit work and what your objectives are with this work?
During the last year, I have become involved with a variety of non profit work. I created my own non profit organization called Creatively Caring, which promotes a spirit of community through hands-on service projects that help people, animals and the environment. I also created two local groups called ChicagoVeg Kids and Eye on Wagner Farm. ChicagoVeg Kids is a meetup group that supports vegetarian and vegan families with children. The Eye on Wagner Farm’s mission is to improve and save the lives of all animals associated with the taxpayer purchased and supported Wagner Farm in Glenview, IL. Along with that I have become a board member of Wagner Farm Rescue Fund and Have a Heart Farm. Right now we have a pressing need to establish the Have a Heart Farm in order to provide a permanent and humane home for not only the unwanted animals from Wagner Farm but also as a safe haven for other farm and non-farm animals. After the sanctuary is built, we can then include an education center on animal welfare and environmental issues, an organic crop area, an animal rehabilitation facility for wildlife, and a temporary lodging site for animals and their rescuers who are traveling long distances and need a rest stop.
There is one common thread in all my work; I strive to show respect and compassion for all living beings and encourage others to show the same.
What are the most effective ways you get your message out there?
I am excited about all the new opportunities to network with people and find that Facebook is one of the best ways to share information. Meetup.com also provides a great forum for like-minded individuals to connect.
Do you find any major differences in the way you communicate with children versus adults on this subject? If so, please explain.
I try to avoid posting graphic images most of the time with adults and never show these types of images to children. I think for adults graphic images immediately turn their eyes away from the content of the message and for kids it’s just not appropriate. I try to educate adults on welfare issues (human, animal and environmental) by offering thought-provoking articles or interesting observations that I find on the Internet. With children, I try to teach more by example and through offering positive experiences that help them develop their natural compassion.
What values do you think mothers and fathers need to instill in their children on the subject?
In a nutshell, I believe that children should be always be encouraged to show caring and compassion for humans, animals and the environment so that those qualities become part of their core values. Parents need to make giving back to others an integral part of their family life.
How important does the role of diet play in your personal and professional convictions?
I feel that being vegan is at the core of who I am. It is a first, basic step in demonstrating to others my personal and professional convictions.
What do you feed your children? What are their favorite things to eat?
At home, I feed my children mostly organic foods, which includes a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, gains and legumes. I do buy some of the “fake meats” for them. My seven-year-old daughter enjoys many vegan dishes I serve, including veggie stir-frys with tofu and brown rice with corn, peas and vegan chorizo. My toddler is very picky these days and seems to only eat the basics like plain potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beans and melons. She will eat the occasional soy nugget! Yes, they do eat some junk food.
What books or movies do you think do the best job to illustrate the causes you care about?
Unfortunately I cannot answer this question. I can’t seem to find much time to read or watch movies these days and even if I could, I most likely would not since I cannot emotionally handle animal welfare content.
What would really help you advance your professional goals as an educator/advocate in the future?
Any closing thoughts?
I remember back in high school when I was vegetarian and so many kids and adults told me, “You think that you becoming a vegetarian is going to make any difference? You are just one person.” I always retorted, “Yes, I am going to make a difference.” My best advice to others is that we are all a work in progress and that each and every little positive thing we do DOES make a difference.