This piece was written over the holidays by PC volunteer Laurie Coleman Figy and published in the SB Tribune’s Michiana Point of View column.
A Season for Giving; a Season for Living
Written by: Laurie Coleman Figy
The holiday season is a time for reflection; a time to look back on the year that “so quickly escaped.” The atmosphere brings with it a gentle reminder of all that is good and kind in the world. It is this notion that takes me back about four years; to a point in my life where I had to truly stop and think about my contribution to society. Was it enough? Did I truly feel good about anything I had accomplished over the past year?
I had a successful career at a large corporation. I had recently received my Masters degree. I had met a wonderful man (who I am now married to) and life, on the surface, appeared to be better than I ever could have anticipated. Yes, I was proud of my personal accomplishments, but why did I still feel like something was missing? It was this feeling of emptiness that led my pursuit of volunteerism.
As an avid animal lover, I began to peruse the internet, hoping to find a local organization for which I could lend a hand. I wasn’t quite sure what or how I could contribute, but I felt that there had to be something I could do to help. It wasn’t long before my search paid off. I found a website for PetsConnect Inc., a non profit group that works with shelters and animal control agencies to help unwanted adoptable animals find permanent and loving homes. All of the animals (taken from area shelters) are housed in the homes of PetsConnect volunteers. There is no formal shelter or facility. These “foster parents” open their hearts and their homes to animals in need. The organization relies solely on the assistance of volunteers and fundraising. It was after reading this information on the website that I knew I had found my destination.
I wasn’t quite certain that I was strong enough to become an animal foster parent, for it takes a very special person to care for and love an animal and then later relinquish it to its’ forever family. The PetsConnect volunteers that foster in their homes are wonderful visionaries; and realize the importance of love and release. According to the American Humane Association, an estimated 9.6 million animals are euthanized in the USA every year. For every animal that is adopted through the PetsConnect program, another can be saved! It is this reality that makes “letting go” a bit easier.
I made the decision to try my hand at fostering, and to date, I have fostered five dogs, one rabbit, two chinchillas and six guinea pigs. Fostering animals is a big commitment though, and I now realize that there are so many other things that you can do to help make a difference. Just as the old adage goes, “good things come in small packages” the same holds true for volunteerism. Small deeds mean the world to organizations that rely on the charity of people. Collecting old newspapers to line the crates of puppies, gathering used and unwanted blankets for kittens and puppies to lay their heads upon, donating a gift card for a gas station to cover the cost of transporting animals to and from veterinarian visits, taking dogs out for walks during adoption events; these are just a few of the things that can really make a difference.
If you are interested in contributing, please visit our website at www.petsconnect.org. You may make a donation, inquire about volunteering at one of our adoption events, or even order a beautiful holiday calendar. All twelve months of the year feature an animal that has been adopted through our program. I am proud to say that 100% of your contribution will go towards saving the lives of deserving animals.
These are the types of things that make me feel good about myself. At the end of the day I can look in the mirror and smile. I believe that the lives of millions of animals are worth it. One day at a time and one animal at a time.
Please, if ever you have felt as I have described above, look deep inside yourself and think about what it is you truly love to do. I would bet that there is an organization out there in need of your talents, desire and commitment. Whether you give your time, your money, your creativity or your passion; the “gift” that you receive in return is well worth the investment.