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Arc Consumers Support Community Animal Charity
Consumers with disabilities, along with staff at The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, wasted no time with their spring cleaning by holding a rummage sale on Friday, March 28 – just one week into the new season. They were out to prove a point: items that would otherwise gather dust in closets could benefit stray and feral cats, and the communities of Mt. Morris and Livingston County as a whole.
The united team exceeded their own expectations by raising $488.50 for Mt. Morris Project Kitty, a community project to trap, spay/neuter, and return the cats back to their habitat, in and around Mt. Morris.
“That number can be considered a great success because it is enough money to spay or neuter and vaccinate 19 stray cats,” says Linda Duryea, an Arc employee who is active in Project Kitty.
If you consider that one unspayed female cat, with of all her unspayed female offspring, can be responsible for more than 3,200 kittens over 12 years, it’s possible that this single rummage sale helped to control the population of Mt. Morris strays by more than 60,000 cats through the year 2020!
The successful fundraiser took root when Duryea approached fellow Arc employee Darlene McMullin about Project Kitty. McMullin is a staff liaison to Advocates Coming Together (ACT), The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming's organization of self advocates. Put simply, self advocates are people with disabilities who speak up for themselves, and assist others in doing so. ACT has about 20 members, many of whom work at Hilltop Industries, the vocational rehabilitation division of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.
McMullin helped to arrange a presentation about Project Kitty by Livingston County Humane Society President Darlene Perry at one of ACT’s monthly meetings. After considering the facts, members of ACT voted to organize and conduct the rummage sale at the Hilltop Industries facility on State Street in Mt. Morris.
“This was a good project because it helped out those poor little kittens in need,” says Heather Bump, a member of ACT. “They don't have any homes. If my cat, Simba, didn’t have a home, I would want someone to help him out.”
“The advocates deserve a great deal of credit,” McMullin says. “They worked very hard on this project, from advertising it by making posters and handing out memos, to unloading vehicles, unpacking boxes, sorting, pricing, selling, and clean up.”
Arc staff offered their support by donating hundreds of items for sale, including clothes, books, videos, decorations, and baked goods, and by assisting the advocates with transporting and pricing items.
Project Kitty is a community project supported by the Humane Society, members of the Mt. Morris Town and Village Boards, Kiwanis, Rotary, and other groups and individuals. Cats and kittens are trapped using humane "Have-a-Heart" traps, and then transported by the Humane Society to John Street in Henrietta to be spayed or neutered, and finally released back into their same environment. (Cats are marked on the ear to avoid repeat capture.) So far, Project Kitty has spayed/neutered about 50 cats from the Mt. Morris area. The hope is that other towns in the county will follow the lead by instituting a similar program.
Self-advocacy groups like ACT are a critical component of agencies such as The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, which are dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to reach their full potential. They serve as a guiding force for policies and procedures at The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, and at the state and national levels.
ACT members routinely devote a portion of their time to charity work. For example, they raised hundreds of dollars to benefit The Arc of the Gulf Coast (Gulfport, Mississippi), a “sister” Arc agency that is recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Locally, they have conducted successful “backpack drives” that distribute school supplies to children in need. When considering the group’s next slate of community projects, ACT members haven’t ruled out additional events to support Project Kitty.
“It’s about time that the community got involved in Project Kitty, and the rummage sale was an excellent start,” says ACT member Miranda Snyder. “Now, we need to think about helping the next 19 cats, and how we can get them off the streets.”
The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming is the two-county region’s largest private, not-for-profit organization serving people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. For additional information, contact Public Relations Director Jeff Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (585) 658-2828 ext. 128.