DeLAND, Fla. – Ten years ago, Patricia Koile started to rescue birds that had been neglected by their owners or who could no longer care for them.
Koile said her nonprofit Patty's Parrot Palace began after she found a birdcage for sale in a Craigslist ad. When she arrived at the location, her purchase turned into a rescue mission.
"It was a shed on the side of a house. No windows. No light. And there were spider webs and roaches everywhere but all over the cages, you couldn't really see in the cages," Koile said. "And out of the corner of my eye I see this movement and I go, 'Oh my Lord, are there birds in these cages?'" Koile said.
The owner told Kolie the 14 birds belonged to her deceased husband and were also for sale. Kolie said she offered to pay for the cages and convinced the woman to surrender the birds.
"She was putting new water on top of old water, new food on top of old food; she just couldn't. It was just too much," Koile said.
Eventually, the owner agreed and Kolie loaded the birds into a truck and took them home.
"My plan was just to quarantine them and find them new homes, so that's what we did," Koile said.
For a while she continued to work in Orlando full time and also rescue birds but in 2014 her Lupus diagnosis took a turn for the worse.
"My doctor said you have a choice, 'You can work a good 10 years and make a lot more money or you can live probably 20 more years and take it easy. What do you want to do?" Kolie said.
That's when the working mom said she traded her heels for sneakers and created Patty's Parrot Palace.
Located on her 5-acre property in DeLand, Kolie cares for 100 different types of birds, dozens are parrots. She built four aviaries where dozens of macaws, African grey parrots, conyards and several Moluccan cockatoos now spread their wings and have enough space to fly around.
Currently, the sanctuary is at capacity and there is a waiting list. Kolie is able to fulfill her mission with help from companies and community members, including volunteer students.
"We do Bright Futures. So we have a lot of high school students that volunteer 3 to 5 a day. We also do some work with Carmax, Disney, Pulte Homes," Koile said. "A lot of those big organizations require their employees to do so much community service per quarter so we've been lucky enough to grab them."
The goal of the nonprofit, said Kolie, is to see the neglected birds flourish and spread their wings.
"They can yell or talk or chatter or whatever they want without being told to be quiet or hush," Kolie said. "They can just be a bird."