As the founder of Home for Life Animal Sanctuary, Lisa LaVerdiere has created an important alternative to the false dichotomy many other animal shelters have unfortunately established. Through Lisa’s charitable organization, an animal housed in a shelter has a third option beyond adoption or euthanasia — Lisa refers to this option as the “Third Door” — as Home for Life Animal Sanctuary takes in these animals and provides them with a home that includes plenty of space, access to medical care and, of course, the love and attention that every animal deserves.
Lisa’s focus on charitable efforts began in earnest following a 15-year career in the legal field in which she focused on toxic tort law along with issues relating to product liability. During her time as a practicing lawyer, Lisa counts her work as an advocate for children affected by lead poisoning among her most important accomplishments and is proud to have represented many clients in need of legal expertise and support.
A longtime resident of Stillwater, Minnesota, Lisa is quite fond of the outdoors and spends a great deal of time with the animals the sanctuary so lovingly cares for. With a plan in place for the sanctuary, Lisa set out to find a property large enough to house many different animals that would also be able to provide plenty of place in which they could connect with nature. While it took quite some time and a great deal of searching to find the right place, Lisa ultimately identified the property that was ideally suited for her vision of the Home for Life Animal Sanctuary.
In what city/state was your first house located and approximately what year did you buy it?
I purchased my first home — an old but beautifully maintained colonial with five bedrooms — just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota in the early 1990s.
What was your living situation prior to buying your first house? Where/with whom/etc?
I was renting an apartment in downtown Minneapolis, and while I enjoyed living there and found the location to be incredibly convenient, I had been longing for a quiet neighborhood, more land and a place I could call my own.
What motivated you to purchase your first house?
I simply realized that the convenience of living in the downtown area was no longer worth sacrificing the simple things that come with owning a home and a sizable piece of land.
How did you go about getting the money together to buy it?
Even while renting an upscale apartment in Minneapolis, the success of my legal career provided me with more than enough money to buy my first house without having to scrimp or save in order to do so.
When you purchased, were you thinking of it as an investment or as a place to start a family. Please elaborate.
I mostly saw the purchase as an investment, but not just as a strictly financial one. I felt it was also an investment in the lifestyle I wanted to live, and that included the possibility that it could become a home in which I started a family.
What are 3 things you liked most about the house?
The old hardwood floors, the relatively remote location — especially compared to the downtown area — and the way the yard looks after winter’s first snowfall.
Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
I was hesitant to make changes at first because it had such a historic feel to it, but eventually I developed a strategy that allowed me to make improvements to the home while staying true to its original style.
Did you make any improvements or major renovations to the house?
I absolutely loved the beat up look of the hardwood floors, but they did need a lot of work in order for them to continue to be functional, so I replaced several sections with boards of a similar style and roughed them up a bit so they would match the rest of the floor. It gave the whole place a little bit more character.
Please share 1-2 of your fondest/funniest memories from living there.
My dogs adored the land there, especially during winter. I had two Australian Shepherd mixes that would bound through the snow every chance they had, and when the wind caused snow drifts to form they would run right for them and leap in and out over and over again. I really got a kick out of watching them get so much enjoyment out of something so simple.
Do you still live there or did you sell it or renting it?
I rent it out now that I live in Stillwater and spend so much time at the sanctuary. A very nice family with a few dogs of their own has been renting the home for several years now, and I have tried to keep the rent down for them as much as possible since they have been such wonderful tenants and have taken such good care of the home.
What advice would you give other first time home buyers?
It’s important to be thorough and take your time, but you can never hesitate when you know you have found the right property for you. In my experience, homebuyers are best served when they take the time to understand exactly what they need out of a property so they have a better idea of what they should be looking for when they enter the real estate market for the first time.