Over the course of my life, I've seen how friends and colleagues have given back to their local community and/or been an advocate around a particular issue. Although my site will continue to be called Blanketing DC with Love, highlighting yearly blanket collection and donations given to local DC-area charities, I plan to also feature stories from individuals who are giving back to their community.
So let's begin with Penny's story whom I met through my professional knowledge management association and learned about her commitment to the rights of animals and her walk for Farm Sanctuary.
Penny Sympson (United States, Illinois):
For the last 20 years, I have boycotted companies that test their products on animals. These companies force animals to endure the pain and suffering of having cleaning products and cosmetics placed in their eyes, among other inhumane treatment. It disgusts me that these companies continue to test on animals when non-animal testing methods exist. To find out which companies test on animals, visit the National Anti-Vivisection Society.
Five years ago I became a vegetarian because I decided animals should not suffer for my benefit. I regret that I have not been a vegetarian my entire life. I took out a $120,000 life insurance policy with the American Humane Society named as the beneficiary.
I thought I was doing everything I could to help animals. A year ago, however, my 15 year old nephew commented on my Facebook posts. "Aunt Penny, I don't think animal cruelty will stop even in my life time." That saddened me as I had hoped cruelty would end in my lifetime. How realistic was my hope when the next generation had no hope? Future life insurance money isn't a comfort to the hundreds of thousands of animals enduring cruelty now.
It was clear I wasn't doing enough and I had to get more involved. A friend told me about the Farm Sanctuary and their 2010 Walk for Animals in Chicago. The Farm Sanctuary is a national, nonprofit animal protection organization. Each year they rescue, rehabilitate and provide lifelong care for hundreds of animals rescued from factory farms, stockyards and slaughterhouses. In addition to operating the shelters, they work to gain legal protection for animals used in food production and to raise public awareness about factory farm cruelty and cruelty-free food alternatives.
I participated in the 2010 Chicago Walk on October 2. I was only able to raise $205. A friend raised $400 and I met a woman that raised $575. One hundred people walked down Michigan Avenue and through Chicago's Gold Coast. I met many compassionate people and now have a little more hope. I plan to remain vigilant and continue to be more active. I might not change society in my lifetime, but I'm sure going to try.
I have a choice. Animals do not. I choose to create a legacy of kindness. What legacy do you choose to leave?
"Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?" ~ Jonathan Safran Foer (American author)
I think many of us who strive to improve our "spot" within the world often wonder if we make any difference. I have to believe (and hope) we do somehow for some living beings. Although we may never know the impact we make, it's important we keep trying.
For additional links related for Farm Sanctuary, commentaries, and books, see Del.icio.us posts categorized as Farms + Compassion. If you have Internet sites to share, add Del.icio.us tags Farms and Compassion.
If you'd like to post a comment or write a blog entry for my site, let me know. I'll sign you up on my site. Email me: dcblankets [at] cybersailors.org with a username and your email address.
Giving Back >