Can You Build A Dream If No One Shares It?

in #charity4 years ago (edited)

“If you can’t support a rescue on your own don’t start a rescue!”—rant from an Appalachian native offended that our 501c3 nonprofit asked the community for donations.

I’ve been on Steemit long enough now to wonder if the international community might get on board with a local project. All over the world, needs exist. Many times, those needs are so great that even social media with its tremendous reach isn’t capable of effecting much change. But what about a problem Steemians can help solve? One with volunteers on the ground who won’t be dipping hands in the pot, won’t be demanding a six-figure salary (or any salary at all,) a project that could make a real difference, possibly make news, and make a lot more people aware of the power of Steemit and its on-board system of cryptocurrency?

I live in Central Appalachia, one of the most downtrodden regions of the U.S. In many ways, it’s like a third-world country. In fact, missionaries from less privileged nations have actually come to this region trying to offer help. See what I mean HERE. Photo at right is a screen capture from this video.

In addition to the abject poverty, drug abuse, and other social issues we face in Central Appalachia, there’s an overwhelming tendency toward animal neglect and abuse. I’ve posted about this already, so there’s no need to cover that ground again. See my collection of articles on Steemshelves, HERE. You should find plenty of photos and videos in those posts. This problem is so rampant that even county officials take part in it with complete immunity. I’ve written a novel about this which is currently in the hands of an agent. For anyone interested in documentation, read the report compiled by Eileen McAfee, private shelter investigator, HERE. TRIGGER WARNING. Click with caution. The animal control officers named in this report were not only never charged with a crime, but are still employed by that animal shelter in daily contact with children and animals. I intend to post more about this situation in the future, including the re-upload of an expose I published on my author website earlier this year, only to have my website hacked at the hosting level and all database information deleted.

Needless to say, approaching officials for help in Southwest Virginia is not an option. It is far more likely to land any whistleblower on the wrong side of the law themselves. People who might otherwise be persuaded to get involved with animal causes are typically too frightened to become associated with any organization that presents a conflict with the Mountain Mafia, like my rescue Tazewell ARC.

Example 1) Financial Advisor at local bank who was our biggest sponsor in 2014 and 2015 was told by a customer that if he did not cease his affiliation with Tazewell ARC, she would take her business to a competing institution.

Example 2) Band Director at local high school was approached by a parent after a ballgame. The parent insinuated that a county official had suggested a change in funding allotted for the band by the county board of supervisors if the Director continued her affiliation with Tazewell ARC.

Example 3) A Virginia State Bar investigator was terminated as a consequence of pursuing an “aggressive line of questioning” with the Commonwealth Attorney named in the McAfee Report linked above. This, at a glance, is unrelated to the immediate animal issue, but on closer inspection appears to be part and parcel of the same political strongarm tactics. Read the story HERE.

Let me assure you: the animals in Central Appalachia are suffering. Not much has changed for them in Tazewell County, despite my group’s best efforts. I’ve reached out to Matthew Gray (Virginia HSUS representative,) Lisa Starr (local ASPCA representative,) Michelle Welch (Head of the Virginia State Attorney General’s Animal Law Unit,) Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network, and Target Zero. Target Zero is the ONLY group that made contact with Tazewell County officials and they actually attempted to hold a town hall meeting. Due to media blackouts in local newspapers about the event (all local papers are staffed or edited by animal shelter board members,) fewer than twenty people showed up for the meeting and Target Zero disappeared from the scene.

So how does this involve Steemit? Well—what if Steemit manages to accomplish what all the major animal welfare groups in the U.S have failed to accomplish in Central Appalachia, and that is to empower a grass roots movement that changes the animal welfare landscape here forever?

We’ll never defeat the current system if we take it on head-to-head. The political corruption is too deep, the stakes too high for local officials who’ve used county jobs and taxpayer monies for their own gain for far too many generations. I have operated and can continue to operate as a non-profit animal rescue as long as I am adequately funded. Steemit seems to provide the perfect platform to raise this kind of money. Not even from handouts and donations, but from the existing system of upvotes and earning potential. I think we just need to rally some animal lovers to brainstorm initiatives to help the cause.

I can offer land and housing for up to thirty dogs. I have rescue partners in New England states willing to take our dogs and place them for adoption in no-kill zip codes, but this costs money. I have the ability to offer sanctuary and rehabilitation to dogs who need a little extra work before going into homes. And I can offer sanctuary to those with medical conditions or certain behavior issues that make adoption very unlikely. I just need regular funding.

In 2014, my daughter and I purchased land with the goal of building a no-kill shelter and dog park. The property had an existing structure, an older home that inspectors deemed structurally sound but in need of modernization. Substandard wiring, substandard plumbing, and no heating or air conditioning. It’s basically a barn, but since 2014, we’ve rolled over 300 dogs through here on their way to loving homes in New England. Even though my husband and I own a small home that’s in good repair, I have volunteered to spend almost all my time at this one caring for the animals, especially over the past two years when volunteers and community services workers disappeared one by one never to return.

One thing we desperately need is outdoor fencing. Currently, the only outdoor play area the dogs have is a tiny section of yard closed off with kennel panels. Panels like these work great on flat areas, but not well at all on the side of a mountain. We need to fence and sub-fence at least two of our seven acres. Dogs who stay here for only a couple of weeks before transport manage quite well in a kennel environment. But for dogs stuck here over a period of years, as some of ours have been, the absence of outdoor play can begin to take a toll. They need exercise. Stimulation. Sunshine. And right now, I can't give them that, nor can I get any other no-kill shelter to take them because of existing fear-based behavioral issues from prior abuse. Below is a video that shows most of the land we need to fence, but have never had adequate funding to do so.

The next video is a little long. It's a tour of the "wild acres," the portion of our property away from the main structure. This video would be of interest to anyone keen on our idea of building a facility to help Appalachian animals, but also to people from other parts of the nation and world curious about Appalachian flora and landscape.

We've managed limited renovation of the property, but many of the temporary improvements were not sustainable. For example, when we first purchased the property, the basement was dominated by a large, non-functioning coal furnace. We removed the furnace with help of volunteers we had at the time, and later added bright colors and creature comforts like fresh paint and floor mats. Unfortunately, we could not afford to replace the mats as the dogs destroyed them, and this portion of the basement is back to being strictly utilitarian.

The biggest needs the rescue has right now with winter approaching are a working septic line and for the water line to be buried. We also need some form of heat. I have access to a wood burning stove but no way to install the flue without hiring someone. If I use electric heat, I have to run new wiring. Nearly burned us all down last winter with the existing wiring, which is cloth-covered aluminum. The last quote I got on a total rewire according to kennel specs was around $7,000. In lieu of that, I could have an electrician simply run a new line of Romex from the box especially for a heater. For the record, whatever modifications we do to the existing structure here will be according to kennel specifications, not residential.

Please let me know in the comments if you have ideas about how to raise awareness about the plight of animals in Appalachia, as well as the funding to fix the problems.



Upvoted. @rhondak deserves our support and so do these animals.

Thank you. As one of the few people in the world who's read High Kill, you know better than most what goes on here.

I wish more people could read that novel. High Kill is an amazing read, but the things that have gone on--are going on--are sickening. Sunlight is the best antidote for evil. Thank you for everything you are doing.

I enjoyed High Kill as well. Yet knowing much of its inspiration came from real life experiences only makes me heartsick for the animal abuse running rampant. Upvoted and resteemed.

You have my 100% support, you are doing great things and deserve all the support Steemit can muster.

I resteemed this for you (and for the animals). It is a subject that is near to my heart. Here in Australia we have many volunteer run wildlife centres helping animals affected by vehicles, or natural disasters. It seems to be an ongoing need to make a difference. And here many people consider such animals as nothing more than pests. I was contributing to one of them on a monthly basis for awhile. Is this something you have considered? Or a kickstarter campaign (or similar)?

Naquoya, thank you so much for this comment, and for the thoughts. Yes, we have a monthly PayPal thing set up called ARC Angels. I didn't mention it in the post because PayPal deals in fiat currency and I wasn't sure how people would feel about that. But here's the link:

Upvoted for the animals :)

I did this with Glory Rules... Pledging the SDB to you. I don't have money, but I can make a post pledged to the ARC once in a while. Maybe others who want to support you would be willing to do the same? Free choice of content,just a funding pledge. Maybe you need your own tag,so those of us willing to do that can find each other to donate with our upvote? I also recommend those reading here check and upvote as @carolkean made a similar pledge with her hilarious story and it has a few days left.

I followed through with what I said. 50% of SBD payout pledged to the ARC.

This is such an awful situation... for the animals and for the people. What I am a little confused about is how people living in such abject poverty are able to wield the sort of influence you spoke of. Usually it is people with money that make the decisions - unless you meant that the political ruling class (as I like to call them) are enhancing their own bank accounts at the expense of peole and animals in their districts that they are supposed to be helping and misappropriating funds.

Anyway, best of luck to you. Rescuing animals is a never-ending and mostly thankless job even under the best of circumstances.

The people with the influence are living in anything BUT abject poverty. It's a feudal system, with old-world-type land barons and coal bards. The people living below poverty level have long since quit caring enough to rally for change.

There is a lot, lot, LOT of money in Southwest Virginia. Unfortunately, it will never see the light of day.

I thought all the rich people pretended to care about animals, people, the environment, etc. I guess you are seeing an example of what happens when the facade comes off. The real reason liberals pretend to care about things is so that they have an excuse to steal more taxpayer money, which mostly goes to line the pockets of themselves, their friends, families, and campaogn donors. Evil and disgusting.

Not many liberals here--this was Trump territory big time. The coal mines, and such. The rich here are simply land barons. Their grandfathers made their fortune off the backs of immigrant labor in the mines, and the money gets socked away for the younger generations to burn away on drugs and lifestyle. Here's a great archived Washington Post article (from years ago) about one of our area's millionaires. They absolutely got it right, too. Not a thing has changed in all these years, except that Grundy got a WalMart.

@sabrin514 Yep - it's all the liberals fault. Rich liberal pretenders in coal country. Please read the piece posted by the author below. Knowledge is power and all that.

Politicians of all types are pretty much self-serving sheisters regardless of the letters they wear. The group in this area you speak of seems almost like a mafia first and foremost.

I live in one of the most liberal states in the union (in both politics and ideology of the average people). The upper class people here will get on a soap box and rail against the evils of capitalism, slavery, borders, pollution, and a host of other favored topics as they sit in Starbucks sipping on their $5 latte on am iPad made by improverished Chinese people locked inside a factory working 16 hour days, dumping toxic waste directly into their land and rivers. Then they will cheerfully head to the horse racing track to support an industry that chews horses up and spits them out like waste, to sit in their private box so that they do not have to mingle with the rest of us scum.

I'm trying to understand the psychology of your opposition. It's bewildering. They don't want to neuter their animals, even if it's free? And they don't want to care for the offspring, but they also don't want anyone else to care for the offspring?

You have a beautiful property, and those dogs are lucky to have you as an advocate.

@winstonalden, honestly-- I don't think it has anything to do with "normal" psychology. Central Appalachia is a culture apart. People here resent outside influence and will resist change even if it could save their lives. This is generations deep, now compounded by widespread drug abuse. They care nothing about the logic of spaying and neutering. Some of these mountain people would rather drown puppies and kittens in the creek than have some newfangled folk tell them what to do with their animals. I nearly got thrown out of the local farm bureau a couple years ago after one crusty old fart said we could save taxpayer money not by rescuing dogs from the local pound, but by backing his truck up to the window and running a hose from the exhaust. Four or five folks standing in line thought that was jest funnier 'n hell. And the local politicians are all so corrupt (and unopposed for being so) that any major changes in how the county operates will disrupt one little honeypot or another for them. Central Appalachia makes no sense to logical humans. It's a third world country right here in the good old U.S.A.

That's a shame. Pretty frightening, too.

You're courageous for taking a stand in such a place.

There are a shocking number of people around that have zero empathy at all for animals. It is like they do not believe animals have emotions or feel pain or something. As a person that can tell what my animals are feeling just my looking at them, it makes me physically ill to watch an animal mistreated or neglected.

Watch my blog for the story about what happens to some of the dogs and cats at the barn where I pay to keep my horse.It bothers me that people who do not share my feelings for animals are the care-takers of my horse. I'm still looking for a better situation to move to.

I followed your blog just now. Read the story about your older horse and my heart just breaks for animals who don't have a loving steward like you.

Wow, @rhondak - that video is eye-opening. You have my full support and I will help in any way that I can. If any platform can do it - Steemit should be able to help in some way.

Hi there! What you're doing is amazing! I'm so sorry things are backward over there and I wish you the very best in building your dream and helping these poor animals.

There's a rescue in my area "Street Dog Hero" that does a lot of dog transports. Maybe you could contact them. I know they're all the way over here on the other side of the country, but any network is good! Maybe they'll have some good suggestions.

I have no words.... Damn. Resteemed and uprooted though too new here for that to matter. If any of my crap on here ever makes anything in more than half a digit - it's yours.

I am located in Richmond, VA and know that your rescue center is going through difficulties. I would love to visit & do anything to help your cause. I'm a college student with a love for animals and understand that it starts with a few individuals that care about the cause and want to make a difference. please let me know because I want to help in any way I can

I just noticed that you have only joined Steemit this month. I'm a moderator with the minnow support project on the PALnet Discord. I won't really be able to drop you a link until late tomorrow but I will do that for sure. My laptop crashed and I'm having to use my phone until a different one gets here. UPS tracking has it sitting in Roanoke so it should come tomorrow. I've had a very difficult time trying to do anything on this phone. But once I get you a link, I encourage you to visit MSP. It's one of the best programs at Steemit for new users. Once I have the laptop, you will be able to find me in the fiction workshop. Anyone in general chat there can tell you how to find me. We would also be able to discuss the rescue issues I'm having much easier there than here as well.

If you are in Richmond, we probably know many of the same people. Do you know Dr. Anna Russau? She has the traveling equine vet clinic and is with Virginians for Change to Animal Legislation. You probably know Kimberly Hawke, with HOWS. VCAL has been very supportive of my efforts here but because there is no group of people on the ground local to me willing to get involved, it's hard to make much difference from 5 1/2 hours away. I would love to talk with you more. Is there a good way to contact you?

still getting used to steemit, apologies for the late response. unfortunately I'm not familiar with Dr. russau or kim hawke. A good way to contact me is through email ([email protected]) or through steemit- although Im not aware of the best way of contacting directly via steemit. Im definitely interested in discussing rescue issues you're currently facing. please send me an email or a link to the minnow support page so we can talk more. thanks again

Thank you for the work you have taken on despite those who would stand in your way. Have you applied for any grant funding ? Can you do a go fund me link that donates could go to straight from steemit? Just ideas. All the best!

We have applied for every grant under the sun. Nowadays that game has really changed. Only brick and mortar shelters qualify for most of them, and no money is available to build shelters because the thinking is to spay and neuter to the point you don't need new shelters. Well, I agree with that. But this is hillbilly hell. People here aren't going to spay and neuter their animals, even if you offer it for free. I've been run off from doing events at the Pounding Mill Tractor Supply because I made too many customers angry talking about spay/neuter.

Wow! That is a shame. I know a lot of people think that neutering an animal is next to neutering themselves! Crazy thinking! Thanks for your comment. 🐓🐓

Rhonda, you didn't respond about a go fund me link. Don't you have something of that sort set up also? I know you at least used to have PayPal as I donated some money off my account from refunds

We've done at least a dozen GoFundMes and YouCaring drives. Between them all, we've raised less than $1,000. An initiative like that for Steemit could work if people get it circulated, but trust me--nothing works on this end. After five years, I've tried everything.

For steemit, is the easiest just to transfer SDB and mark it for the ARC? OR do you prefer something else?

Oh Rhonda! You're a godsend for these animals. I hope Steemit can help you and them! Have you been able to look into grants at all?

Hi, Uniwhisp. :-) See my answer to mother2chicks. :-)

Great work that you are doing. Keep up and I am sure many will support your cause.

Good for you for going after your ideals, even if no one else supports you. That's what most of the visionaries of the world have to deal with, eventually everyone comes around, but it can be lonely at first.

Lovely post, still sad 😭 how animals still suffer in the hands of some individuals especially in those countries where there is no laws of protection whatsoever for animals.

I think it's completely possible. It's a slow start on steemit but I think we're all heading in the right direction.

Did you ever create a Steemit account for your rescue? I generally think consolidating steem power is a good idea, but in this case, you might want to branch off and develop an account that doesn't have the look and name of an individual person. What this might do is create a community feel, giving others a sense of belonging to it - maybe delegating to it, donating to it. Initially I don't think such an account could pay the rescue's bills. BUT - if you used an account like that to actually hand out steem donations (generously provided by like-minded whales) to worthy animal causes (including Tazewell but not limited to) you could build such esteem (😀) that the account may grow its following to a point that in a year or so, it's at solid dolphin, maybe even whale status itself. An account like that would eventually GENERATE wealth not only for Tazewell but for other animal-welfare-promoting minnows. Not redistribute wealth, but actually generate new wealth. You might even draw a community of animal rescues onto Steemit through such an account. It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest giving out of such a dire need as you, yourself, have... but if you can initially convince others to donate what's handed out, you are effectively being what Malcolm Gladwell calls a connector. The world needs connectors and eventually, good connectors are rewarded.

I have thought about something like this, yes. What's stopped me is the daunting task of starting from the bottom again trying to build an account. So I decided to wait until I have enough SP to delegate to give the new account strength. If I start from scratch, it would be too easy for the Mountain Mafia to get a Steemit account, buy or rent some SP, and flag it into oblivion. And they would.

This is a great idea, and perhaps you can get some help from a whale or dolphin to get the ball rolling?

Hi again. This might have already been suggested/thought of, but I was reminded of it just now, seeing your cutie pie newcomer pic at the workshop. What about taking that account that you're planning on that's dedicated to fundraise for this, and making it a go-to for posting cute pics/animal stories? Folks could potentially submit posts to you via google or something that you could post from the site. OR you could set up a wordpress posting site so that it would be easier to upload pics, etc. Just realizing that the cute pics and short little blurbs about animals are popular and if there is a sentence explaining the cause it would get more folks to 100%upvote and resteem. And if you could find an easy way to get folks to share their pics and stories with you so that account could earn the steem from them, it might be helpful. I'm not sure if I'm making sense or if this is feasible though. Obviously the donation link would be on all the posts as well.

Hey @rhondak, I work at an architectural salvage yard and get materials in that I'm sure you could use except that they are in Colorado. I've never been to your area but checking out a junk yard near you might give you access to some really useful and cheap materials. Just a thought. Wish we were closer!

They'd be more likely to chase me off with a shotgun, but that would be a good idea for rescues in other parts of the country. :-)

Unfortunately that part of Appalachia is so poor that usable materials rarely make it near a junk yard. If she got funding for some transport runs, she might be able to fill the van with supplies from a place up north, if funding covers the purchases or steemians can arrange a donation drive with a pickup point near her route.

Wow, I guess I had/have no idea about the poverty of Appalachia. All I really know is that they have one of the most bio-diverse forests in that region with loads of amazing medicinal plants that are often being over-harvested!

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Even if you are alone and no one follows you, always do what you think is just :)

thanks for bringing awareness to this topic

I really dont no. I wish i could help

Hi @rhondak! I love your post ;) I think it's always good to share a dream with someone.

We all have to share a dream. You are right. Thanks.

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As a former puppy mill rescuer and having lived in VA I salute you!
Start a go fund me page as well as a page here on Steemit exclusively for this cause.

The Go Fund Me page will only work if it's circulated through Steemit. I've done at least a dozen Go Fund Me and You Caring fundraisers and probably raised less than $1,000 with them all put together. If we can do that campaign here in this community, it might work. But for us to circulate it locally--not even a little bit. I definitely am thinking about an account here for the rescue, but I probably need to build up some SP of my own to delegate first, or the Mountain Mafia will buy or rent SP to flag it into oblivion. I'm still under the radar locally as far as they're concerned, but that may not always be the case.

Upvoted, followed and resteemed. I am in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and have volunteered for the local Humane Society and also helped with spay and neuter transports for the Humane Society of Shenandoah County. I know what a task it is taking on any kind of help and support for animals. Thanks you for what you are trying to do!

Have you tried contacting your states news station about the plight of dogs in your town. My hat goes off to you for caring and such a huge undertaking.

You can probably imagine that our local stations would not touch this. However, last year a Richmond station sent their reporter on a 10 hour round-trip to cover Russell County as a result of the report I linked in the post. The second half of this report shows the state veterinarian making every excuse in the world why he will not take action despite the eggregious abuse. We have no other recourse.

Resteemed and upvoted. You are a real life hero.

Thank you. :-)

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