Category Archives: Giving

When The Cat Who Supported Her Through Cancer Got Sick, Jessica Knew What She Had to Do

Jessica had battled a brain tumor for a decade and was finally feeling better. Her little cat Olive had stood by her throughout her treatment, and now they were relaxing together at their house in Harlem.

One weekend, Jessica couldn’t find Olive anywhere. She went down to the basement and heard faint meowing from the corner. Olive was very sick.

Jessica grabbed Olive and rushed for a taxi. Together, they headed to the Animal Medical Center (AMC) on New York City’s Upper East Side.

Dr. Kate Crecraft of AMC found that Olive had an extremely rare condition: a piece of grass had lodged itself in the sack around her heart (the pericardium). This was causing enormous fluid buildup and a life threatening infection.

Surgeons removed the blade of grass and treated the infection. After some TLC at home from her mom Jessica, Olive is feeling as good as ever!

Jessica finally had the chance to repay the friend who stood by her through her own illness. Now they’re together, healthy, and happy.

I found out about this story in a wonderful letter I received from AMC today. I know firsthand the good work they do; they saved my pet gerbil’s life multiple times. I wouldn’t want to take a pet anywhere else.

AMC is a marvel. There are departments of hematology, radiology, neurosurgery, everything the best human hospitals would have! But it all costs money, and as a nonprofit, AMC needs support from people like us.

If you want to be a part of incredible stories like this, please donate here.

How we treat these little animals says everything about us. Let’s enable more Olives to get well! When we heal them, we also heal the humans who love them.

How I Know The Need Out There Is Real

I was at the grocery store recently when the woman behind me in line tried to return a pair of hubcaps.

There’s nothing wrong with them. I just need groceries more than I need hubcaps.

That’s what she said. The hubcaps cost $14. Fourteen dollars was the difference between her eating or not eating.

You may be picturing her in your mind. I’d wager your picture is wrong. She was a nicely dressed woman in her 50’s who would have fit right in at a corporate office. Perhaps she used to work in one.

“Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with them,” she repeated.

The store manager took pity on her and let her return the perfectly good hubcaps. In place of them, she slid a small pile of groceries down the conveyor belt.

It’s easy for us to make excuses. Isn’t this the government’s job? What about food stamps? But it’s easy for people to fall through the cracks of a system that’s largely indifferent to them. Paperwork gets lost, caseworkers don’t show up, appointments are all booked until three weeks from Tuesday, etc.

The economic devastation of this pandemic is very real. And it may be a lot closer than we think. I certainly didn’t expect it right behind me in line at the grocery in my well-off town.

How can we help? A favorite charity of mine is the Salvation Army. It provides food to people who have nowhere else to turn. You can donate here.

Have a great weekend and a happy Valentine’s day, everyone!

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Photo: “Swan, homeless, on Mission St.” by Franco Folini is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

How Planned Parenthood Is Providing Critical Care…Even in a Pandemic

Providing critical medical care to patients who sometimes have very few resources, all in the face of enormous political opposition, is challenging at the best of times. The pandemic has made it even harder. But Planned Parenthood is adjusting rapidly to make sure that people who need help get it.

I just got off a Planned Parenthood Federation of America Leadership Briefing call, and the steps they’ve taken to keep helping people in a difficult time really impressed me. Here are some of the great things they’re doing:

  • Reaching 25 million people online in 2020 with sex ed, counseling and telehealth
  • Using a new chat text program available in Spanish to provide counseling and information to those who may not be comfortable in English
  • Training staff nationwide how to provide sex ed online, as opposed to the usual in person offerings
  • Providing COVID vaccine safety information to patients. Many patients trust Planned Parenthood, so hearing from a trusted voice that the vaccines are safe can mean a lot!

I was also impressed that not only are they offering telehealth, they’re gathering data to measure how well it works. This data-driven approach tells you that donor dollars are in good hands.

I couldn’t helped but be incredibly impressed with the hard work of the PPFA staff under these most difficult of circumstances. If you want to support their work, you can donate here.

Bonus: One of the attendees mentioned that they worked at Pandia Health, a company I had never heard of. It is a startup in Sunnyvale, CA that provides birth control by mail on a convenient, subscription model. As an investor, I was intrigued. The Yelp reviews look impressive. I’m gathering more information.

Photo: “Rally to support Planned Parenthood” by Fibonacci Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Boy Who Was Me

I recently received a wonderful letter from a young man named Corey, who is at Rawhide boys ranch. Rawhide is a place that takes in boys who have gotten in trouble with the law and helps them change their lives. Corey was behind in school before he arrived at Rawhide, but he’s done a complete 180 and will graduate high school early at 16!

This is a rare outcome even for children from the best of circumstances. For Corey to be able to pull that off despite the disadvantages I imagine he’s faced in life is nothing short of astounding.

I can relate to Corey because Corey was me. 22 years ago, I was in Rawhide too. I had gotten in a lot of trouble as a kid but Rawhide completely changed my life.

What Rawhide does is take kids from situations where they’re not doing well, puts them somewhere different, and gives them a chance to change. Instead of being around friends that are also going down the wrong path, you’re around more positive people. Instead of having to fight to avoid victimization in difficult circumstances, Rawhide provides a tranquil place to live.

Corey grew up in Milwaukee, where many people, especially black folks, face few opportunities and a violent environment. I imagine if he had grown up somewhere like where I live now, he probably would’ve never gotten in trouble in the first place. But Rawhide gave him that better environment.

The letter included an envelope so I could reply to Corey, and I plan to write him later today. It’s wonderful to see a young person doing so well.

If you want to support Corey and others like him at Rawhide, you can donate here. Your investment will pay the best sort of dividends.