“Look for the Helpers”: The First Week

 

On the first, I started my Donation Initiative for Ahimsa House, a charitable organization based in Atlanta that seeks to help victims of domestic violence find shelter for their pets, as well as connecting humans with refuge resources.  This has been educational in a variety of ways, since I’ve never before attempted any sort of fundraising activity.  What I didn’t know could fill a warehouse.

I also experienced some horrifying frustration, which I focused back upon myself.  This, I think, is a pitfall that many who work with social justice issues encounter.  It’s the sense that no one cares, and it’s your fault. Because you didn’t go about it in the right way, weren’t loud enough, pushy enough, didn’t have the appropriate tools or use the right social media tactics.  The logical end of this thought progression is that you assume responsibility for the fact that people don’t care.  It’s a dangerous spot to be, and it’s also incorrect in a variety of ways.

 

Why I Was Wrong

First, I know that people do care about domestic violence.  Many of them also care about animal abuse.  But how much they care has to be assessed, and I have to take my conclusions with a grain of salt.  People don’t ignore my entreaties because they’re shitty human beings. Rather, there are many considerations.  What’s going on in their lives? How many other baskets must their personal resources fill? Are they already invested in another charity–feeding the homeless etc?  Do they put all their extra resources into caring for an aging parent or a child with special needs? I have to consider these things.  To feel responsible for the lack of tangible, visible action of others is both to discount their own considerations, and assume that my project even appears on their care radar.

 

Finding the Helpers

I descended into bitterness for an entire evening.  I looked at all the vocalization, the ego-stroking praise about how noble I was, all the “detail expansions” of tweets–these number in the thousands.  But fewer than a dozen people have actively shared or stepped up to help.  It’s difficult for me to reconcile those two viewpoints.  In the end, I have to say that the scant dozen mean more to me, whether they purchased a book or not.  Because their support isn’t ephemeral.  It has substance.  Michael Dellert has offered his time, his resources, and his own platform to spread the awareness of what I’m trying to do.  He’s an author in his own right, launching his latest stories, and working to promote the first novel in his own fantasy series.  You can browse his work and receive updates, here.

Other major helpers are women and men within my own social network–people I’ve worked with, studied with, each of whom does a great deal to improve their worlds.  I’d like to take a moment to specifically recognize them, though you may never meet them.

  • Tiffany Baca. I worked with her at Starbuck’s for quite some time.  Both of us tend to frighten people, and neither one of us is particularly inclined to suffer fools gladly.  However, we both have a weakness for animals, and Tiffany worked with a Domestic Violence Refuge in Cobb County for several years.  She’s gold, pure and simple. In fact, she was the first to tell me about Ahimsa House.
  • Violetta LaTraviatta. We’ve met only once, through Tiffany.  She also worked with the Domestic Violence organization mentioned above.  She’s a wonderful lady who has both shared my work, purchased a copy of the book, and connected me with other wonderful people who work for animal and human welfare.
  • Jeff Thompson.  When we first met each other in college, we fought like stray cats.  But I’ve come to admire and respect Jeff.  He runs an astronomy program at his local public library, to encourage science literacy and feed the sense of wonder within his community.  We share a deep love of Carl Sagan.
  • Megan Dakota Parker. We went through undergraduate university together. Because we were both archaeology majors, we often had classes together.  Her boundless enthusiasm for all things anthropology, which includes modern culture, has offered us the opportunity to wax nerdy for hours on end.  Currently, she teaches archaeology at a local branch of Georgia State University, and is the faculty mentor for the Student Anthropology Club.
  • Bill Cunningham.  Bill and I have never met.  He’s an author, engineer, and proud father from somewhere to the North of me.  We met on Twitter, started following each other around on WordPress, and have exchanged many scraps of conversation on everything from music to family and writing.  He’s a wonderful conversation partner and has a way with language that speaks to the ultimate utility of cross-disciplinary interests.  He purchased a book, but more importantly, he’s offered me moral support and encouragement.
  • Aquileana. She dwells far away in Argentina, but my correspondence with her and our interactions both on Twitter and WordPress render her a close friend. She writes essays about Classical myth of surpassing beauty and scholarship. I frequently share her work on my blog, and enjoy the connections her extensive Twitter network bring to me. She’s a light spirit.
  • John Creasy. Another valuable connection in the Twitterverse, John not only offers his support, but brings me spirited debates and wry humor. Over the months we’ve interacted, I’ve come to value his insight and wit.

 

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I feel as if there are many more Helpers I should recognize, but some of them are new or even unknown to me.  Please know that I thank you for all that you do.  Even if we never meet.  The world can be a dark place, but every little bit counts.  I honor that.  For all the actions without agenda that I cannot witness, all the moments of unselfishness, or the simple kindness you offer a stranger.  I bow to you.  You are making the world a brighter, better place.

 

 

 

Further Reading

No One Has Such a Dog, and No One Should is available for purchase on Amazon. I receive a 70 percent royalty of the purchase price, and I’ll be donating 50 percent of that amount. Because I know that there may be doubts about the integrity of this initiative, I’m providing weekly reportage on our progress.  To date, the initiative has drawn $13.96. While I know that that’s a very small sum, I’m proud of everyone who helped to make it happen. I hope we can raise much more in the next seven weeks, but if we raise awareness and show people how they can be involved in their communities through volunteer effort–I consider that a profitable outcome.

If you’d like to know more about Ahimsa House, please feel free to visit them.  Last year they sheltered 200 pets belonging to more than 120 new clients who were transitioning from an abusive household.  They also answered and offered assistance to more than 2,000 calls to their 24-hour Crisis Hotline. Yes, they are exclusive to Georgia, for now.  But I would like to point out that small movements of this sort grow when they receive support.  You can directly donate funds or materials to them, or offer volunteer effort.  Similarly, they have connections to nationwide agencies that also need volunteers or donations.

Again, the Dingo thanks you for being a part of this.  IMG_0635

 

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