What to do? I asked Sam, who has been a bit sad and lonely lately because our latest foster dog has left for his adoptive home. What Sam doesn't know is that he probably won't be meeting any more dog buddies; my husband and I just received the news that Sam has a serious illness and the best we can do is keep him comfortable; he doesn't need the stress of finding and then losing any more friends. Additionally, my husband and I are not able to manage Sam's health problems and handle the job of preparing stray dogs for their permanent homes. We are volunteers - dog foster parents - for a local animal rescue association, MARC, that spays/neuters stray dogs and cats, provides community education on the issue, and places the animals in foster homes to prepare them for adoption instead of sticking them in a pound to be euthanized. I believe that everyone should give back time to their community, and MARC was an easy choice; I love dogs and spent years as a social worker preparing children for adoption. Among other things, they both need socialization, training, and love. My husband loves all animals and once rescued and adopted a total of 26 cats, so it was a natural fit for him, too.
As I thought about Sam, MARC, and my need to be more visible in the community, the light bulb went on. I remembered something one workshop presenter at the annual conference had said. To paraphrase her, "Find an activity in the community you are passionate about and just get out there and DO IT!" Suddenly I had my answer: do something for MARC besides fostering!
Am I a writer who has created books, pamphlets, newspaper ads, and even designed my own website? Have I ever recruited foster parents? Have I provided education and training for individuals and communities? Does MARC, an all-volunteer organization with almost no money, need all of those things? The answer to all of those questions was a resounding YES.
So I emailed my MARC contact, Sue, today. She hasn't responded yet, but my head is spinning again (it does that a lot, as my husband would tell you) with ideas. I want to create a newsletter for animal foster parents. An email list. Ads. Brochures. A slick magazine-like periodical like the one I saw recently from a national humane society that features dog and cat adoption stories and is sent to donors as a "thank you." And more.
So thank you, APH, for pushing me to network and to become more visible in the community. It may or may not pay off in terms of more personal history business for me, but it will help publicize the importance of preserving our stories, both human and animal stories in this case. Maybe I'll even take Sam, who was once a stray doggie himself, to help with publicity. He still loves riding in the car and could meet some new dog buddies. In any event, I'm sure I will receive much more than what I give, and am also, for once, excited about networking!
Do something good for a cause you are passionate about. Let me hear your stories!