Several years ago I wrote a book entitled What Saved Me: A Dozen Ways to Embrace Life. (under the pen name Claire Starr). In it I mentioned the importance of everyday heroes: the veteran next door, the senior citizen on a limited budget who is still able to make a donation to a charity or take the time to help a child learn to love reading, those who volunteer for Special Olympic events, or work to make the lives of others better, without any sense of karmaic rebate, just because it feels like the right thing to do.
There should be another word, just one word, for “everyday hero,” because a hero or a heroic effort should be reserved for those who risk their life for others. But, I don’t know what word or term to insert between selfless/altruistic person and a heroic person. So, “everyday hero” will have to do for today. Perhaps you have a better word?
Which brings me around to the everyday heroes who work on behalf of animals; they are in communities throughout the U.S., and throughout the world, working to help non-human beings who are unable to take things into their own hands or, more accurately, paws, claws, or wings. Creatures unable to speak for themselves depend upon humans to act in their best interest and, thank God, many do.
I recently had the pleasure of working with a new organization, Fairfield County CARES to create a website for them to begin gathering resources for concerned pet lovers in Central Ohio. My efforts were small and not selfless, for FC-CARES gave me a page to promote Open Your Heart with Pets: Mastering Life through Love of Animals. The everyday hero I’m thinking of this afternoon is also named Janice, but she is Janice Kobi—a wife, mother, fundraiser, advocate...a one-woman “energizer bunny” who brings to mind that famous quote “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” Janice doesn’t want us to be comfortable with less-than-compassionate practices in animal control facilities. She doesn’t want us to be comfortable with abuse in our community, whether directed toward humans, old or young, male or female, or animals. In the face of heartache, Janice Kobi continues to do what she can to help others. She is a person who always has an open heart, a heart that says “Yes!” to improvement, to effort, to hope. She is an everyday hero.
The site I mentioned—http://www.fairfieldcountycares.org—will give folks in the Central Ohio area a place to go for all the information they need to responsibly adopt an animal, volunteer for a rescue organization, or keep informed about legislation concerning animals in their area. It’s just a start-up right now, but let’s not despise the day of small beginnings. Everything starts somewhere and when people are propelled to act with limited budget and in the face of political and social speed bumps, well my hat’s off to them.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar efforts going on throughout the world; but all these efforts started with one person saying yes; to opening their heart. Best Friends of Utah, the Humane Association of the United States, the list could fill this blog... efforts are being made, animals are being saved, hearts are being opened.
If you would like to share the story of an everyday hero who works to make life better for animals, email me at OYH.PETS@gmail.com. I hope to write a sequel to Open Your Heart with Pets one day and to include more real-life stories of animal lovers. Also, I'd like to include some of your stories on this blog. Be sure to include your name and address in the email to me, if you want your story considered for the sequel, and understand that submission gives me the write to include your story in my book, with editorial license and credit given to you as is right and ethical and legal. (Your name, address and email will not be given or sold to another company, but are used solely to collect real-life stories for a second book for animal lovers.)
Thank you for bringing the efforts of everyday heroes, open-hearted animal lovers, to light, so that we can be encouraged and inspired by their example!---Janice Marie Phelps 10/28/07