Sunday, September 19, 2010

Homeless cats

As I was waking up this morning I had a dream about taking Brisket, one of my kittens, for a walk to visit one of his cat friends. Brisket was curled up all cozy and warm in a cardboard box I was carrying.

I had seen Brisket and his friend cat hanging out on this busy street corner before and, like a good cat mama, wanted to meet the cat and make sure the two were safe as they played. This is why I was escorting Brisket there.

As we rounded the corner I realized that Brisket's friend cat had a sibling and two owners. They were all on the corner together, and they were all obviously homeless. The cat parents were an elderly couple, wearing coat upon coat upon coat, each with a different pattern of tears in them. They were pale white with stringy white hair, his hanging out from underneath a black beret, hers from underneath a kerchief. The homeless wife stood in front of the homeless husband, his arms at her side, with tens of ragged bags at their feet. She held a cat while Brisket's cat friend sat nestled atop a suitcase. Both the homeless wife and the homeless husband stared straight ahead, neither person talking.

In my dream I stopped short and wondered, "What next?" If I continued with the kitty play date I would naturally have to introduce myself to them. And, while our pets played I'd need to talk with them, and I knew there was no way I could avoid learning more about their circumstances, and then I'd naturally need to dedicate myself to helping them.


It was at this moment of wild panic and conjecture that I woke up. Brisket was resting on my pillow. I was safe, in my home, in my warm bed. I moved Brisket to my chest, absentmindedly stroked his back, and reflected on the dream.


Homelessness is one of the issues that cuts to the core of my heart. Everyone should have a home where they feel safe and comfortable - where they can escape from the perils of their world. This, I believe, is a basic human need. When I hear of children who are homeless my heart breaks.

Given the depth of my empathy for individuals struggling with homelessness, I know I cannot have a career doing this work. This is why I give money and time to homeless causes. I give money to organizations that are relieving immediate suffering by providing food, clothing, and shelter. I give money to organizations that are creating points of normalcy for homeless children and families. And I give money to organizations that strive to prevent homelessness or to create long term solutions to the problem in US society.

One of these organizations is the Somerville Homeless Coalition. They recently had an anonymous donor give them a $20,000 challenge grant. For every dollar I give the donor gives $1, up to $20K. This can go a long way to helping building permanent housing for homeless families in Somerville and surrounding communities.

If ending homelessness, or being part of a challenge, strikes a chord with you, then I invite you to give to the Somerville Homeless Coalition during this $20K challenge grant period.

If homelessness isn't your issue, no harm, no foul. Take a moment to think about the last time you gave time or money to a cause that made your heart go pitter pat. Share your cause in the comments section below, and consider making a gift this week.

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