When I moved to Fort Wayne in 2008, I knew I wanted to be involved with some type of community-minded group, but I had no idea where to start. Naturally, I looked to the internet. I found a few organizations that seemed to fit my interests and abilities, but every attempt at becoming involved was met with one wall or another.
One organization let me invest several hours of my time in their volunteer orientation process only to never contact me again. Another presented me with so many hoops to jump through before I could actually volunteer, it seemed easier to just donate money (which I did and never heard a word from them). Several other organizations never responded to my inquiries at all.
How frustrating for someone who just wants to help her community and make a difference!
That’s why I was elated to learn about Impact 52, a project chronicling the volunteerism of Aaron Brown and his family. Finally, some real experiences from real people who were also managing busy work/school schedules! I read about Impact 52’s various volunteer efforts, waiting for an opportunity to really jump out at me.
In July, 2012, Aaron and his family helped out at the Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry, a local organization that supplies low or no income families with pet food, keeping pets with the owners rather than going to the animal shelter. I was vaguely familiar with FWPFP, and Impact 52’s blog post about their volunteer experience incited me to learn more.
I contacted Pam Tracy, the woman behind the organization, in November. By the turn of the new year, I was handing out pet food and feeling like I was part of something. I worked the front line on my first day of service. This was a great experience as a first timer, as I got to see all the faces of those I was helping. The second time I served with FWPFP, I helped fill bags with pet food. Talk about a workout for your arms!
The volume of food going out the doors is incredible. Two months into the year and FWPFP has already given out over 2100 pounds of dry pet food and 599 cans of pet food.
We’re serving more than 70 folks at each distribution, with new faces every time. If you consider that many of these people have more than one animal they’re feeding, that’s a whole lot of pets staying at home with their families. All because a small group of people choose to devote a couple of hours every other Saturday to handing out pet food. All because some kind-hearted folks put a couple of cans or a bag of food in the donation bins around town.
And it makes my heart feel lighter somehow to know that I am part of it. I donate money to various animal groups, but to be down in the trenches with my sleeves rolled up and actually doing something, that’s the impact I was looking for when I moved here.
I’ve signed up with the Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry through May and plan to continue serving with this organization indefinitely. They warmly welcome anyone who would like to volunteer. If you’re thinking about becoming involved, I strongly encourage you to reach out to Pam at FWPFP, Aaron at Impact 52, or myself. And if your schedule doesn’t permit you to donate time, the next time you see one of the bins around town, consider donating some food. It’s small acts of kindness like this that help keep Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry’s doors open and animals at home with their loving families.
For more information on the Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry, visit their website http://www.fwpetfoodpantry.com/.
Ashley Motia – Fort Wayne, Indiana
About the Author
A country girl at heart, Ashley Motia fell in love with the city of Fort Wayne in the mid-2000s. A kind of inertia pulled her in, inspiring her to make it home. And what’s a home without the strength of community? After some dead ends, Ashley finally found a fit with a volunteer group (with some help from Impact 52). When she’s not volunteering, Ashley works as a social media strategist and freelance writer. She welcomes questions and new connections on Twitter: @ajmotia