Philanthropy Friday (rewind): Fostering Shelter Dogs

The following article is a guest post from my good friend and granola extraordinaire, Ilene Evans. It was originally published on May 3, 2013. Her recent post about helping your neighbor, even if it’s not the easy thing, inspired me to share her past words today. 

We stood on the grass as the van made its way over the gravel driveway. As it came to a stop, E. emerged with a brown cocker spaniel in her arms.

“This one’s yours!” she said as she handed the dog to me. “Isn’t he a beauty?”

Could Brock be any cuter?

Could Brock be any cuter?

The kids gathered around me as we said hello to our first foster dog Brock.

That was a year ago.

We’ve fostered fourteen dogs since.

For those of you unfamiliar with the role of dog foster parents, we are the bridge between the shelter and the permanent home for a dog, most of them narrowly escaping being euthanized at high kill facilities. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”), approximately 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters annually. This number translates to 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering shelters are “put down,” and never have the chance to find a home or return to the home they strayed from.

Animal rescue organizations around the country work with extensive networks of shelter workers, rescue drivers and rescue pilots to release dogs from shelters and transport them to families who are willing to care for them until they find permanent homes.

In my house, rescuing dogs is a family affair. Not only are my three children involved with the care of our foster dogs, they are also acutely aware that every time we take a dog, we are saving a life. Is it difficult to say goodbye to the dogs when they find their permanent homes? Absolutely. It’s not unusual for there to be tears on adoption day. We love these dogs. As a foster family, that’s part of our job.

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I’ve had many people ask me questions such as these.

“Won’t the kids be sad when the dog is adopted?”

Of course the kids will be sad.

Some people have gone as far as to say this:

“How can you let your kids get attached to these dogs only to have them leave you?”

When we love something, we tend to want it to stay around forever, but nothing is forever. That’s not how life works. We will all have many goodbyes in our lifetime, and the farewell to our foster dogs is bittersweet. It’s that good kind of hurt, of knowing that our dog is moving on to an owner who will love that dog the way we did, creating room in our home to save yet another life.

With every goodbye, comes another hello.

With every goodbye, we give another shelter dog a second chance.

For more information on becoming a foster parent to shelter dogs, contact your local ASPCA

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Ilene Evans is a single mom, entrepreneur and owner of Hippie Chick Granola Co, a small batch granola co. that serves up delicious, fun, surprising flavors.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday: Philanthropy Starts With Compassion

This following article is a guest post from my good friend and possibly the most encouraging woman I know, Chris Carter1000 Voices Speak

Compassion is a powerful thing. It is the foundation for all good things and giving. It is the engine that starts the drive toward movement and mobilization of change and making a difference. I have yet to see a ministry or mission without the launching ground of compassion. 

Think about it.

Every organization and business and philanthropic mission is based on the desire to attend to the needs of others. Oh, there is so much need out there in this world, and I absolutely love Jennifer’s ability to find so many people and places that give and make that difference in this world!

It seems humanity is getting colder, harder, and more extreme, doesn’t it? I for one am so grateful for all those courageous and generous souls that use their compassion to mobilize change and offer relief and aid in so many desperate conditions around the globe.

And although I do my best to give and make my own little difference within my community and try to take bold steps to reach further and drop my little coins into the big vast bucket to be filled…

It always feels like I just don’t do enough. I can do better; give more of my time and my heart that seems to be pulled in a million different directions. But doing something is better than nothing.

I believe this space is simply for that purpose. (Yes?)

I may not be powerful, leading an army of people toward relief from famine, or saving lives on battlefield grounds or lifting oppression with hopes to rectify it all. But I CAN do SOMETHING.

It takes countless “little ol’ me’s” dropping our little coins in that boundless bucket, signing on for what is in our reach and supporting those who bravely travel the world taking on the endless fight against atrocities and evil, in any small way we can. And perhaps? Raising our voices to promote good things is one simple way to do just that.

Every tiny little itty bit counts for something.

It takes a village. Every single soul in the village is significant.

One voice can inspire One Thousand voices for something powerful. One burdened heart can connect One Thousand burdened hearts and challenge multitudes to reach the world with a message.

It happens.

And there is one mission that has been set ablaze in the blogosphere right this very minute…because of one heart that spoke about the desperate need for compassion.

And another jumped in with the passion and burden to do something.

An idea was born and is currently being fulfilled. Rapid fire. Spreading across the globe with a furry of fierce conviction and commitment. The call was made, and people are answering the call.

Oh it’s incredible when something like this occurs, isn’t it?

It started with my beloved friend Lizzi Rogers, who wrote this post about the need for compassion and the chilling reality of the absence and emptiness of help for so many who are struggling. 

You simply must read her raw and real words HERE.  

Then came a dear friend, Yvonne stirred by the post and passionate about Lizzi’s plea… she offered an idea.

Just an idea. 

But you see, when something of this nature is shared, people show up. People who want to do SOMETHING and yet, they don’t know how or where to start.

This is surely something. And this is a place to start.

1,000 voices speak for compassion is a platform that simply unites all people around the world to share their hearts and their own voice with hopes to unite us all under one word… one goal…one beautiful and purposeful mission.

Spread compassion.

Because compassion moves people. It ignites a desire to shift our perspective and change the lens from which we see… it begs us to dive deeper into our own communities or perhaps stretch farther out of our comfort zones to do something, anything that can make a difference in someone’s life for the better.

Would you hop on board? Share your voice? Honor this word and drop your heart into this beautiful and bountiful bucket that is free and worthy of good? If you have a presence anywhere on the World Wide Web stage…

Would you join us?

On February 20th, the goal is for 1,000 people to share awareness of compassion in their own unique way. Write about what it means to you. There are no guidelines necessary- compassion is seen and felt and acted upon in so many unique ways that there could be no limits set on this assignment.

I think that is the true beauty in this thing. It’s personal. And your one voice can fulfill a greater need. 

I believe THAT is what doing good, giving back, and making a difference is all about. Right Jennifer?

(ed. note: Right, Chris! Also, you all know I will be participating in this amazing project.)

Will you join the 1,000 Voices of Compassion on February 20th?

Let’s all work together to lift this dark world into the light of compassion, for this one day.

chriscarterChris Carter is a SAHM of two pretty amazing kids. She has been writing at TheMomCafe.com for almost four years, where she hopes to encourage mothers everywhere through her humor, inspiration and faith. 

 

 

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday: Rare Genes

This following article is a guest post from a friend and cofounder of Bitzy Baby, Whitney Reeves.hopegenesThere’s a fine balance of seeking normalcy in your unique life. Striving for a path similar to so many filled with dreams, joy and family.

It hits sometimes when you’ve finally absorbed in a moment of normal, that you look around realizing just how unrealistic this is for you daily. And yet, you can’t imagine not experiencing the hardships, the multiple medications a day, the ache of not having answers from even the experts because it is that in itself that makes you humbly appreciate everything you have.

For the over 7,000 listed rare diagnoses and more than 300 million experiencing a rare disease, every day of their life they face the feeling of tragedy and gratitude. We’re acronyms. Our medications are specially mixed, our reactions to basic sickness are digressive, and not even our family may understand what we’re going through.

As a human, we seek the need to relate to someone in our moments of high and low: “He asked me,” “I miss her,” “Late..uhh.” But then being rare adds in moments when I wonder if there is anyone with a story like mine closer than Australia? Where we catch ourselves thinking “It could be worse. I can face this but would never be able to handle that.” But more than anything: isn’t that who we all are: Rare?

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It may not make sense why I shop online for wedge sneakers late into the night, until you realize it’s that or I’ll research once more the most recent trial medications to reduce my boy’s symptoms. Why doing something, creating something so much more than me, striving always to do more for others, becomes an obsession. That making a current medication schedule when going away for one night breaks me, because my reality is hard to face on paper. It’s not fun to write or say, so I do it as fast as you can. “Rip the band aid,” I say for the billionth time.

You may read this and pause wondering if you know one of the 7,000. You do. I’m sure you watched one of the 2 million videos honoring ALS. From there, you may even have seen another diagnosis honored such as SMA, the infant form of ALS. It’s humbling, powerful and inspiring to witness. But above all, it’s making a difference.

With over 28 million people getting involved in the Ice Bucket Challenge and 1 in every 10 affected with a rare disease, being a voice is as simple as that 60 second video. You don’t have to remember what color ribbon to wear. Grab the entire ice bucket and represent rare genes as a whole. Advocate for something that impacts more people than cancer and aids combined.

On the last day of February, leap year or not, wear jeans. Fill so many with dreams, joy, feeling like part of a family and above all: HOPE. (Read more about Rare Disease Day)

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whitneyreevesWhitney Reeve’s cape is downsized to chunky sneaker tongues to help her keep up with life’s great motivators: kids, coffee, creativity and cribs. She stays up way too late, runs on coffee and courage, and finds her boys too often snuggled in her bed the next morning. She’s a parent of two boys diagnosed with Alports Syndrome, the cofounder of Bitzy Baby, and as a former teacher of 10 years, finds herself spending way too much on late library books.  

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

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