When we started Karma Cat and Zen Dog, we created a mission and a plan and we set some procedures in place. We did our homework and moved slowly. We gathered some amazing people along the way to help us.
All of that is pretty standard … it’s what is supposed to happen so that the organization can grow and do the right things. I’m proud of that – I’m proud of what this organization has accomplished and who we have become. To be honest, it is what I planned and hoped for …
But perhaps what I didn’t plan for was that the people in this organization would become ‘ohana.
Though I was born in NY and have lived in NJ for many years, some of you know that I have a profound love for Hawai’i. And what I have experienced of the Hawaiian culture, ‘ohana is an idea – something that the people live by.
The word ?ohana means family in the Hawaiian language, but a much wider sense of family, it includes not only one’s relatives, but also one’s friends, neighbors and coworkers. The idea is also that family and friends are bound and everyone must work together and not forget each other.
Our ‘ohana extends to our volunteers – each and every one of the 55 people that run this organization. From our 6 board members, to our 21 directors and coordinators, our 8 junior volunteers that range in age from 4 to 18. The 37 PetSmart and 25 CatQuarters volunteers … and the 39 people that hold multiple roles.
We include our veterinarians and vet techs in our ‘ohana – spread across several towns, but never out of reach for us when we need their help. I think they are used to us texting and emailing at all hours of the day at this point.
The foster ‘ohana is strong – at one point this year they hosted 59 animals in only 10 homes. We are usually averaging 35 to 40 animals at a time. Every foster has their niche: the seniors, the bottle babies, the ill, the non-social, the “I don’t like any other animal”.
Our donor and supporter base totals over 1000 and spans the Americas. A supporter from California sends periodic donations when any of her or her friends’ animals needs a little “good karma” and a Canadian supporter sends a money order every year that confuses the bank.
Our sponsors tonight are definitely ‘ohana. Top Cat sponsors BPL Carbon-free Solutions and the St. Francis Animal Clinic. Fat Cat sponsors: Edgebrook Animal Hospital, Karen Wilkinson of ReMax Platinum, Keiki Farm and the Raritan Group. Cool Cat sponsors: Muffin & Morris, Sandy & Thurman and Mshisha & Kita – all Karma Cat Alumni, and the Rabbits Den Tattoo and Piercing Parlor. Our Wine Glass sponsor tonight is J.B. and the gift bags were sponsored by Michelle Arlotta Photogrpahy, Katie’s Pet Depot and One Steep at a Thyme. Music tonight is sponsored by Jan Lilburn and provided by The Echos.
Over the past 5 years, we have created a family of adopters – one could say this is the heart of our ‘ohana since without you, we’d be stalled in our mission. 670 animals have found their forever people in 496 homes (we have quite a few “repeat” and “twofer” adopters).
Ohana means family and we stick together through the ups and downs …
We opened a new adoption center “CatQuarters”
- battled ringworm and urinary tract issues
- rescued the 9 Lives from Helmetta – a shelter rescue that will never be forgotten
- dealt with epic kitten diarrhea
- received another Sidewalk Angels Foundation grant
- nursed horrific wounds
- rescued the 4th and 5th Zen Dogs
On this roller coaster of a year, we sadly lost a few animals to illness … some while they were still in our foster home network, some after they had been adopted.
- Freddie Boom Boom
We know that each of those cats was loved and respected – may they rest in peace and may their fosters and adopters know that we all did everything we could for them. Swinging back to the upside … Some amazing adoptions and rescues have taken place in the past 12 months …
- Shortly after last year’s Paws for Celebration we rejoiced in our 600th adoption –
- Calvin Klein
- Courtney required constant care after she presented with a large open wound on her stomach. She recovered and was adopted by a past adopter.
- Following in her footsteps, Greyson is currently being treated for a massive skin wound.
- We were not shy or short on theme names this year …
- Welcome Back Kotter
- Modern Family
- The Baseball Greats
- Thunder Cats
- Motley Crue
- We even managed to pull names from American Horror Story, The Beatles and The Flintstones – we are nothing if not eclectic
- Hunger Games
- Mary Tyler Moore
- Facts of Life
- Game of Thrones (again)
- Sound of Music
- And my personal favorites for themes, Orphan Black and Hawai’i Five-0
- Four dogs found their forever homes because of our fosters … this quadruples our total dog adoption number!
- Our sassy cats, One-Eyed Winnie, Robin and Saucy found their perfect humans this year
- The Greeks – seniors abandoned at a local vet hospital all found homes
- Cheese Puff, Quinn, Pia and Mabel were returned from their first adopters for various reasons but all have found new forever homes.
- Countless kittens and cats pulled from the Newark shelter and the 21 cats and kittens taken from a New Brunswick home – almost all of which now have forever homes
- Owen had two knee surgeries to correct Grade V luxating patellas after being rescued from the Helmetta shelter. We are excited to announce that he has found his forever home with the staff at the Edgebrook Animal Hospital where he will stay ‘ohana forever. You can visit him at the front desk. Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten.
Thank you all for being here tonight! Your support means everything to the animals that we rescue.