Last week our leadership was in #florida to run assessments and an analysis of the response methodology and got to meet up with some of our partner orgs: @hopeheroesnfp @blackflagsar Third Wave Volunteers and more. We came together at an amazing place called The Bear Creek Feline Center who was impacted heavily by #hurricanemichael They are open for business and are some truly amazing people! - - - - - #outdoors #giving #nonprofit #helping #Americans #giveback #USA #naturaldisaster #openworld #openworldrelief #openworldoutfitters #puertorico #medical #health #doctor #voluntours #ecofriendly #earthship #give #donate @ Bear Creek Feline Center ...
Hi! Our names are Dani and Marilyn. We are residents of BCFC. Our home has been pretty hard hit and we really don't like all the noise but LOVE the people that have been helping put our home back together. ...
Remember Hurricane Michael? Yea, neither do most people. Seems once a story becomes yesterday's news, no one remembers. So, to refresh your memory, it's been 33 days since Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm, with 155 mile-per-hour winds. On October 10th 2018, life changed for many people. And animals.
Last week, I again went up to do what I could with Third Wave Volunteers. First stop for us was the Bear Creek Feline Center located in Panama City. They took a pretty big hit. Housing 21 cats (no, not house cats, lol), they provide a sanctuary for animals that otherwise would essentially have to de-exist. They do a wonderful job with the cats, but like I said, they took a wallop from the storm. So we showed up with chainsaws and (mostly) strong backs. Cleared out I don't know how many trees that littered their property. Even helped an elderly neighbor across the street who was trying to dig a post hole for his ex-mailbox.
I bring this up because it shows how diverse volunteering can be. They lived on the property, and their house was fine. The cages for the cats were not breached. So why did they rate a visit from us? Simple, they needed it. A handful of people simply cannot tackle that kind of job, especially when they themselves are already doing full time work to help animals. And we had the people and skills to pitch in. Others joined from other groups, and even a few just as themselves. And we left the center in a better and workable condition. It was a pleasure and an honor to help folks who consistently show such compassion for the animals they care for.
We did receive "payment", in a way. We got to interact with the cats. Hand feed a panther. Pet and feed a Serval. See and learn about them. It was an amazing experience, especially staring at a cat that could easily take me down, and being thankful for chain link fencing. LOL!. Seriously, seeing how they see, move, and live was incredible. And hearing that low rumble from them? Again, I love chain link.
After, we again went to Mexico Beach, which is pretty much ground zero for the storm. It's still devastated. As in, mostly not there. But this time, it felt different to me. Last trip, there were people buzzing everywhere. Linemen, responders, all sorts of people and activity. This time it was gray and rainy. And the people were mostly gone. It felt abandoned, in a way. And still destroyed.
We again met up with a family that we had met last trip, who lived on the beach and had their home ripped apart. They were living in a tent under the stilt portion of their mostly missing house, and had another tent in the back yard for storage and more living space. Their attitude was incredible. Positive. Far more so than I could have even mustered. They were an inspiration. The only thing they needed was a more permanent place while they started rebuilding. A trailer. Bella simply wanted to cook again. And perhaps shower. We promised to do what we could.
After we left, another storm came through that night and took one of their tents with it. This couple just couldn't catch a break. Until Larry Applebee found a RV that could be donated. It's in semi-rough condition, and we're going to start a fund raiser to make it livable, because this couple deserves it. And because we can help, one spoonful at a time.
I walked away from the trip with a different mindset than the previous outing. That one was a solid smack in the face. The trauma was still wide open and bleeding. This time it felt like the wounds were just starting to heal, and those who bandaged them had left. It felt empty there. And it left me with even more determination to simply provide whatever little assistance I could, to whoever I could reach.
I don't know where this leaves Niurka Espinola and I. How it will/might change our lives. This increase in awareness and desire to help. For me, it just makes me more determined to inspire and to perhaps teach. For beyond the simple acts of donating time and energy lies something far more grand. Knowing that even though most of the people I went to assist voted differently than me, even though they led very different lives, they were still my human family. And it is that message that I want to continue to push.
Love. Caring. Compassion.
Whether it's by traveling and experiencing, and then sharing perceptions of cultures different and alike. Maybe by stepping in when others need a hand. Or perhaps even just raising awareness that we are really pretty much all the same under the sheets, it's what I want to devote my life to.
A special thanks to all the volunteer groups that made it here this last week. Love the Water, Third Wave, The Church of Scientology, & Topos from Mexico and Republic of Panama all coordinated by Christian Oaks from Santa Rosa Beach.🐾🐆🙂 ...