Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Volunteerism is a big topic recently. Funny, I have been volunteering since I was a child. It is as natural to me as breathing. I was taught by my parents and my community to give back.

I went to Trader Joe's recently and outside sat the most beautiful man with a coffee can and a bag full of paper Poppies. He had on a hat that said he was with the VFW. I didn't need the hat to know that, I helped to sell Poppies when I was a little girl. It was an honor to be a part of that, and I was good! No wonder I ended up in sales, I had no fear walking up to everyone and with my big blue eyes, look right at them and get them to buy.

I grew up in a small town in Iowa and my parents were very active in the community. If something needed to be done, they did not wait for someone else to do it, they did it. I remember many snowy days that Dad would drive a tractor from his business to our neighborhood and plow out all the drives.

My Mom is a nurse and worked for a local physician. If someone was not able to get their meds, she would call me and I would go deliver it. One day, after running some errands, I had stopped back at the office and there was an elderly lady standing on the sidewalk. I was 16-17 at the time, and did everything at a dead run. This lady stopped me and told me she needed a ride home, so I ran over and began ushering her into the car. She looked at me and said "Wait, it takes me a minute to get started!" She taught me to slow down a little so I didn't miss the obvious.

I am a part of my community, no matter where that is. When I lived in North San Diego County, one of my neighbors was this adorable older couple. They had been married for most of their lives and he was suffering from Parkinson's Disease. They had relatives that lived close, but it was important to me to make sure she knew I was available. So, I would take her to the grocery store when I went. She would get a few things and then sit at the front watching everyone while I shopped. At first I thought I should hurry, but she assured me that people watching was one of her favorite things to do.

I had a small white dog named Noel that her husband just loved. One day I was driving in and they were in the parking lot and she looked stricken. I stopped to ask her if she needed help and she did. They tried to walk across the street to the store and he stopped and could not get started again. So, I bundled him into the car, settled her in and put Noel on his lap. We drove across the street, I took him to the yogurt shop and sat him out front with a cone and Noel - I gave the kid running the shop a few bucks and told him to keep an eye on the old man and the dog (I may have threatened harm if anything happened to either one, but that is beside the point.) I took her shopping. This couple taught me about true love.

Later, I became a volunteer at the San Diego Foster Care Facility. I worked Intake and the Baby Cottage. At Intake, I developed a plan for kids coming in to help calm them and give them some options. I let them pick a movie and put out snacks. Some kids had not eaten in days and the babies often needed to be changed and cleaned up a little. They were completely cared for once they got to their cottages, but Intake can take up to two hours. These kids taught me compassion.

When I worked in the Baby Cottage, they quickly figured out that I can get babies to sleep (it's a gift!) So, when I walked in, they always gave me the worst baby there. Often that was a crack baby, I did not know it at the time, but they can't sleep for long periods. I was trying to get as many babies to sleep as possible, yes - I am that competitive! What I learned is, that the biggest gift I could give that cottage was to take the crack baby and keep him/her asleep for two hours. I just sat in a rocker for two hours and patted that baby's bottom to get them to sleep. It taught me patience at a whole new level.

Now I am starting a new organization - and it is teaching me all new lessons. I believe strongly in volunteering and do it as much as I can. I do it formally and informally. I save my water bottles in my car and give them to the homeless guys that live in my alley. I carry water in my trunk in case they need some.

I believe that compassion will be the saving grace for all of us. When I am giving, I am not thinking about me. I am not worrying about the bills, my job, people, places or things. I am in the moment and being of service.

Am I special? Heck no! There are a lot of people who do much more and affect more people that I do. Do I care about that? Heck no! I care about the people that have affected my life. They have left an indelible mark on my soul and I carry them with me wherever I go.

Take the time to figure out how you can volunteer. There is always time, no matter how busy you are. It is a gift you give yourself that is unequaled.

Oh - by the way, I stopped and bought a Poppy and am wearing it proudly on my handbag.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rock and a Hard Spot

I am in a spot lately. I have this wonderful plan, great people in place to move it forward and it feels like we have hit a wall. Not a big wall, but a wall. Ever feel like you are at a starting gate and just waiting for that pistol to blow. That is how it feels right now.

We need to be a non-profit so that people can get a tax write-off when then donate. To get that status, you need to incorporate (or LLC) and there are filing costs with all of it. The problem, I am unable to fund the costs. We need an angel and I am having a hard time asking.

My first thought is that I don't want to bother anyone as we are all experiencing hard times right now. Even though we are not calling it a depression, it is. Then, let's face it, there is my pride. I am an independent woman and I am not used to asking for help unless I am forced into it.

Money is an odd energy. Everyone seems to have their own feelings about it and it is like snowflakes, none are the same!

When we look at money logically, it is a method of exchange. This paper or coin for your goods or service. Easy, right? Well, when you are hauling your change bucket into the grocery store to dump it into the sorter so that you have laundry money and some food, not so easy.

Then we have the spiritual way of looking at money. It is simply an energy that we can call. Well, I have it on speed dial right now and it is not answering!

We are all taught from infancy our idea of money and it seems to carry forward. I had parents that both worked - Dad had his own business and Mom was a nurse. We lived a nice life, if we were doing without, they hid it well. Okay, I am the oldest, so I do remember some serious noodle casseroles and awful soup times. But overall, that may have just been bad recipes...who knows?!?!

My concept of money growing up was there was enough, but we watched how we spent it. Food was always plentiful. Clothes, coats and shoes were chosen with care as they needed to last for a while. Today, I am a great shopper and have honed those skills to an art recently while being on under-employment. I was in the 99 cent store recently and remember thinking that I wish I was flush, I could really get some great things there! Target has become my new "department" store and the mall, while being blocks from my place, seems to have become that wishful land of Eden. A place we would like to visit if it was only real.

So, I continue to do the next indicated step, which is fill out the paperwork for the non-profit status to the best of my ability. Copyright the logo and our name (which is free) and set up the website with what we have.

And I will also know that the Universe will do for me what I cannot do for myself.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where do we start?

So I had no idea what to do with this idea once I got it. However, I did not sleep that whole night. Someone or something was determined that I do not let the idea go. So, first thing in the morning I called my friend who is active in the animal community.

I asked Kathleen what she thought and she was instantly interested. She gave me the number of a woman she had met recently that was a Healer and said I should call her too. So I called Christen and we talked like we had known each other forever! She is also dating Larry, who just happens to work at the VA. All looking very serendipitous, huh?

So we all agreed to get together at my place one evening and toss around the ideas to see if we thought it would work. I put together a barbeque and as we ate, we talked. First we needed to see if it was viable. Sounded good, so how about a name? Kathleen came up with Paws for Troops and we all loved it!

Kathleen's friend, Jeremy, was there and he agreed to design a logo. And the logo was born in the next few days. We all loved it.

Now what? Set up a Twitter account, really? What is Twitter? Well, now I know! I have been Twittering for a couple of months.

Set up a fan page on Facebook. Done and we now have 208 fans as of today!

Start talking to people about the idea. Most people have asked, "how can I help?"

Met with East Valley Shelter and they loved the idea and are on board. They are even setting up a fast track volunteer set up for our veterans.

Larry ran it by his peeps at the VA and we have a tentative approval for the pilot program. He is currently getting us an appointment to make a formal proposal.

Viral marketing checklist:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Blog
  • Website
  • You Tube
All in place and ready to go. Wow, this has been an adventure and a ride I could not have imagined. What I do know is that it is one of my final thoughts before sleep and one of my waking thoughts. I am passionate about getting this off the ground. This is way bigger than me or any of my plans. This is something that has its own legs and is pushing me when I try to slow it down or stop it.

My own fears of failure have not been able to derail me. One of my dear friends, a veterinarian and humanitarian, told me recently that he knew if anyone could get this done, it would be me.
Why, I am a bulldog! I took it as a compliment, I am stubborn, opinionated and strong willed. I am also compassionate, loving and a marshmallow. I guess these are traits that will serve me on this mission.

Wish me luck, or better yet, ask me how you can help!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What the heck did I get myself into?

Have you ever started an organization - yeah, me either.

That being said, here I am the Founder of Paws for Troops, an organization that benefits military veterans and shelter animals.

An amazing idea that I got one night while meditating. There I was quietly passing time until they said we could open our eyes again, which is as close as I get to meditating, and this idea popped into my head.

Now, if you know me, you will understand that I am already a big advocate of rescue/re-homing animals. And, I have lived long enough, with enough awareness of the world to realize the US does not treat its war veterans with grace and dignity.

So, when this idea came to me, it seemed too easy. Much too easy, surely someone had already done this. Nope, after some research, we found no one had.

The idea is simple. Work with the local VA and bring military veterans to local animal shelters. While there, they will work with the animals in a safe environment, reaping the healing affects that animals bring. The animals will reap the benefits of working with individuals that have been taught to be calm and assertive - a bonus to an animal that may be in shock from being left at a shelter.

With a myriad of volunteer opportunities, the veteran can pick and choose where he/she would like to help. This will give them an opportunity to be in the community, being of service. This service will assist the shelters in manpower and making the animals more adoptable.

Simple really!