Tag Archives: Charity

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

What Captain Sir Tom Meant to Me

My wife was the first person to tell me about Captain Tom, a man in the UK nearing his 100th birthday who was walking across his small garden day after day to raise money for the NHS. At that time, things in the New York area, where we live, were at their worst.

I remember the disturbing sights of that time. What was odd about them was I’d just catch a glimpse of what was happening. I would wonder if what I saw was what I thought it was. I seemed to see more hearses than I used to, but then who could be sure? I saw a large trailer outside a medical facility in Greenwich Village…was that one of the trailers that held bodies?

Other things were less equivocal. I saw a white panel truck pull up in front of a funeral home in Lower Manhattan. They had evidently run out of hearses. And an ambulance seemed to pass our building almost every minute.

I asked my wife if she had ever heard so many sirens. Was I just imagining things? She agreed she’d never heard so many at once. This made me realize I wasn’t imagining. I don’t know if that made it better or worse.

At this time, I felt helpless to stop the catastrophe surrounding me, as I’m sure many did. But Captain Tom’s example from afar cheered me. Of all people, who would be in a worse position to help than someone who is 99 years old and frail? But he determinedly crossed his garden back and forth, unconcerned with whatever limitations he might face. He just kept moving. I think he gave a lot of us the courage to keep moving to.

And bit by bit, his seemingly small act made a huge impact. He raised 33 million pounds ($45 million) for the NHS, perhaps saving many lives.

At 99 years old, one would think he had already given all he had to give. He had served his country in World War Two and raised a wonderful family. Who would’ve thought that his greatest achievement was still ahead of him?

When he started his walk, Captain Sir Tom was still recovering from serious injuries from a fall that included a punctured lung! But he saw what he could do, not what he couldn’t, and set about doing it for the good of others. And if someone could accomplish so much at age 99, imagine what we could do as well!

Captain Sir Tom Moore showed me what one human being can do, even in the face of the worst things. He showed me that people cannot be stopped; that the human spirit can triumph over anything, if we try.

It’s a shame to lose him, but he was here when we needed him most.

Captain Sir Tom, we’ll miss you!

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.