In people, I mean. Here’s one. We just watched a NatGeo Wild episode called “The Lady With 700 Cats.” Lynea Lattanzio calls herself a crazy cat lady, but she’s no animal hoarder. She runs a 12-acre sanctuary, no-kill rescue facility and adoption program for cats that might well be the largest of its kind. She’s devoted 18 years and everything she owns to giving cats a second chance after they’ve been abandoned or surrendered for whatever reason. It’s a huge undertaking, one that just keeps growing because this woman never turns a needy cat away. There was a time when Lynea was personally quite well-heeled, but having turned possessions into cash for cat needs and her California property into The Cat House, she often finds herself scrambling for funds, but she says she’s never been happier. Not that there aren’t setbacks. She had my granddaughter sobbing over the death of a kitten who’d reached the sanctuary and its medical services too late. The program relies on donations and volunteers.
Closer to my home is “Sharing and Caring Hands,” which was started by a woman who regularly volunteered with a Minneapolis organization for helping the poor and decided in 1985 that she could do better on her own. A master at organizing volunteers, Mary Jo Copeland earned a $2200 stipend from a local television station and started a small storefront operation dedicated to helping the homeless, the poorest of the poor, and those whom she saw “falling through the cracks.” She has worked tirelessly to build program and its hugely expanded facilities through donations. While volunteers are still the backbone of “Sharing and Caring Hands” (overhead is less than 8% of the program’s budget) a paid staff with Mary Jo as director run a nationally recognized program that is exactly what its name implies and a source of pride for Minneapolis.
In February of this year, 70-year-old Mary Jo Copeland was awarded the Citizen’s Medal, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors.
There are many ways to give one’s life, and those who actually do it—give their whole lives for the sake of others—give us a gift beyond the needs they seek to fulfill. They give us reason to believe, as Anne Frank said, “in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
Tell us about someone you admire who champions a worthy cause and makes a difference for others. I’ll give one randomly selected commenter the e-version of my own REASON TO BELIEVE.
Congratulations to Sandy Bradburry, who won my last drawing, a download of THE LAST GOOD MAN.
Excerpts from many of my books are available on my website.