The Power of One

"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world."
                     - William Shakespeare

What is one life worth?

We live in a society where market forces determine the value of everything,including living things. We talk about people in terms of their assets, how much they are worth, what they have to offer, or how they can sell themselves. The market mentality is so pervasive that it has also infected animal welfare to the extent that online rescues trying to find placement for cats and dogs now resemble online dating apps or websites.

Sometimes we forget that there is another more important economy that binds our society together. It is an economy of good will, kindness, and empathy- qualities that cannot be bought or sold like commodities, but must be given.

Home for Life® operates within this second economy, working to amplify its call to action on behalf of the animals and people in our community. Our sanctuary welcomes animals based on their need, not their marketability.

The following story reveals the power of the kindness economy, and the benefits that accrue when people care. It is the story of what happened to a plain, homeless black cat named Jonathan and how the kindness shown him has paid huge dividends!

The Story of Jonathan: A Black Cat Lost in the Crowd

A feral cat colony had been living peacefully for several years at the site of a stalled construction project in Florida. Many of the cats were former pets, abandoned there. They were looked after by a kind woman, a caretaker, who was providing them regular food and water, reducing their numbers through trap-neuter-release, and generally monitoring their well-being. Then one day, the site owner let this woman know that construction at the site was about to start again. The cats had to go, he said, or he would have them sent to animal control. The caretaker scrambled to gather the colony and shepherd them into the rescue system. She managed to convince local rescues to accept all but one of the cats - Jonathan. Nobody would take him.

Why was Jonathan the only cat rejected for placement? From a market perspective, he had several factors working against him: he was an adult, semi-feral, deaf cat. He might have stood a chance if he had unusual or interesting looks, but he was a short-haired all black cat whose only distinguishing mark was a ragged left ear. The situation was more dire for Jonathan than it first appeared, for his caretaker was ill with cancer. Though she was housing Jonathan on her porch in a large dog crate, she knew this set up could only be temporary as her cancer treatments would soon leave her too ill to continue caring for him.

Jonathan's caretaker needed help. Faced with her own health crisis, her last wish was to make sure that Jonathan,the vulnerable, deaf cat would be safe. After being turned away from dozens of adoption organizations, at last she reached out to Home for Life®. She hoped we would look beyond Jonathan's plain wrapping to the treasure within.

Home for Life's® sanctuary exists to form a loving community for the most desperate animals with nowhere else to turn. Our cats and dogs don't need curb appeal to deserve our help and welcome. At our sanctuary they find affirmation whether they are plain or old or disabled or dealing with a chronic health condition. We know that having a place to belong and a home for life changes everything for animals like Jonathan. Sanctuary residents who once faced repeated rejection and uncertainty are now enjoying a stable base and consistent care, the solid ground to flourish and reach new potential.

  Who could imagine the result of one person caring? Who could foresee the potential of one cat, looking for a home and a place to belong? Who can doubt the magic of one sanctuary opening its doors to this cat? This is the power of one—a gift of kindness that grows!

Who could have predicted what the future held for Jonathan—a deaf, black cat who lived for years virtually on his own as a semi-wild feral when his caretaker was desperately searching for help for him? That he would evolve into a beloved therapy cat, with the care he received and the confidence he developed at Home for Life®? How incredible it is that this cat had the opportunity, because of your support of Home for Life to demonstrate how truly special he was, not just another plain black cat, but part of Home for Life's Peace Creatures® programs, which will touch the lives of nearly 7,000 at-risk kids and adults in our community this year!

Now a Crowd Favorite

A Black Cat Crossing Your Path Means that Animal is Going Somewhere 

— Groucho Marx
Despite his disability, Jonathan is a friendly and fearless cat, who even loves the car rides involved to travel to our community partners—the nursing homes, prisons, and mental health facilities we visit. A black cat who's going somewhere, Jonathan reaches out to those who cross his path with friendship and attention, bringing solace and joy to those vulnerable people he meets through our Peace Creatures® programs. Like so many of our residents, Jonathan has blossomed. Once just another plain cat, indistinguishable from so many others in need, he is now who has delighted everyone including his longtime caretaker by becoming part of our therapy animal team working in our Peace Creatures® programs!

Each year Peace Creatures volunteer nearly $900,000 worth of  pet therapy* to non-profit and community partner organizations throughout the Twin Cities metro area that have scant funds for these much needed services. Last year, our therapy teams worked with more than 6,000 vulnerable children and adults in the Twin Cities area—people facing loneliness and despair in battered women's shelters, hospitals, mental health facilities and prisons. Home For Life is reaching out to these people and helping to connect them back into the embrace of community.

Jonathan didn't seem special or distinctive when he was being rated for his potential in the adoption market. Yet all that he has become was always inside of him, just looking for the space and opportunity to grow. Over the past 20 years, Home for Life® has provided a doorway to a new life for hundreds of cats and dogs, many of whom have participated in our Peace Creatures® programs. They serve as ambassadors for our mission and for our conviction that all life is valuable.

*Based on a Twin Cities, Minnesota non-profit offering pet therapy to schools and other organizations. They charge $4,000 for a ten week session for a group of 10 people, a cost of $400 per person. We have always offered our outreach services free of charge. Last year, we allocated more than 27% of our annual budget to our outreach programs and our volunteers worked with 2200 kids and adults—a value of over $880,000 to the community. In 2019, we will be serving 7,000 people, to more than double the value and impact for our community, effectively and economically. Every dollar Home for Life® raises is leveraged to produce the most good for our animals we care for and for the community who supports us.

Moving toward a Caring Community and an Economy of Kindness.

A sanctuary is not a holding facility or transition chute. Rather, it is a community asset, much like a library or playground, and the sanctuary's living residents are a dynamic resource, building benefit through each interaction. In creating this pioneering new model of animal welfare, Home for Life® is defining a new space in our society where animals and people celebrate and uplift one another. We are demonstrating how a sanctuary can be a huge asset to its community, helping to bind members together in affirming acts of kindness and empathy. Home for Life® has multiplied the initial kindness by Jonathan's caretaker, and we have made it pay huge dividends!

Home for Life® has gained new ground for desperate animals like Jonathan and for Animal Welfare. Our sanctuary is a new model of rescue where homeless dogs and cats are not a problem to be solved, but an overlooked treasure with much to live for and much to give.

  • One person who cared enough to help a desperate animal
  • One organization that welcomed him home without demands or expectations
  • One black, deaf gentle cat who is touching the lives of so many vulnerable people in our community
  • And One person—YOU—whose support made the difference for Jonathan!

There are so many other cats and dogs just like him for whom Home for Life® can make a life changing difference. These animals just need someone to recognize that they are worth helping. The power of one person can transform the future of a vulnerable animal like Jonathan and create a whole new world for them and those they will go on to help and the light they will shine to show the way.