In these new features, 5enses will highlight individuals and organizations in the community that are making a difference. They were inspired by Alert Reader Aarti Pani and community leaders Sadira DeMarino and John Duncan. Thank you, Aarti, Sadira, and John.
Want to nominate a do-gooder or a doing-gooder group? Email tips to 5ensesMag@Gmail.Com with “Do Good” in the subject line. Don’t like who we feature? Do some good deeds or start your own group and tell us about it. Remember, our community is whatever we make it.
Get Involved: Community Cats/Catty SHACK Rescue
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Susan Smart, founder of Community Cats and Catty SHACK Rescue. We’re a 501(c)(3) under the name Community Cats. We became a nonprofit in 2011. The name SHACK, our physical residence, stands for Sweetpea’s Haven for Abandoned Cats & Kittens. We got the house in 2014.
All of our cats are rescues from the street. To most people, “community cats” means “feral cats,” but we don’t really do ferals. We just do friendlies that have been dumped in the community, pregnant cats that have been dumped, and kittens that are strays. They’re all friendlies that’ve been with people until whatever happened to them happened to them. So far, we’ve taken 365 cats off the street. … The first thing we do when we take a cat off the street is have them tested for FIV (Feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (Feline leukemia virus). Those are highly contagious and cause potentially fatal diseases. As soon as we know they’re OK, we bring them to the Catty SHACK or to a foster. We foster the pregnant moms and any young kittens until they’re old enough to wean, after which the mom and kittens are spayed or neutered. If a cat has FIV or FeLV, we try to place them in a home that either has no other cats or has cats that already have those viruses, or, in some cases, in a sanctuary situation. Right now, we have over 20 cats at the Catty Shack and 30 cats in fosters. That’s pretty much our normal number. I don’t know how many kittens we’ve placed this year, but it’s been easily 100 cats in 2016.
How can we help?
We need volunteers to come and socialize with the cats. That just means coming in and being with them so they can get used to being with people again. They’re not feral, but some of them haven’t been around people in a long time. They need time to get used to feeling safe around people again. Some people spend an hour a week here. Some people spend eight hours a week here. There are people who come in to feed the cats and people who come in to clean. There are people who’ve volunteered to do electrical and carpentry work and created and installed our indoor/outdoor cat patio.
A lot of people donate food and supplies like cat beds, carpets, and toys. Some people donate cleaning supplies like vinegar, non-toxic soaps, and paper towels. We really like things that are really clean and gently used. There’s someone who sews for us who makes these really awesome two-sided fleece blankets for crate pads that we send home with cats when they get adopted. If anyone’s interested in adopting a cat, there’s a screening process, which you can start during our regular hours. The more cats we adopt the more cats we can rescue. There are always more cats. Money is helpful and, because we’re a 501(c)(3), it’s a tax deductible donation.
Find out more about Community Cats and Catty SHACK Rescue at CattyShackRescue.Org or via Facebook at Catty SHACK Rescue. The Catty SHACK is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 609 S. Granite St. The mailing address is Community Cats; 127 N. Cortez St.; Prescott, AZ 86303.
Get Involved: Chino Valley Gay-Straight Alliance
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Camden Martinez, president and founder of the Chino Valley GSA, which stands for Gay-Straight Alliance. It’s a student club at Chino Valley High School, where I’m a senior. I was born and raised in Chicago, Ill., and moved to Chino Valley when I was starting my freshman year of high school. … After a year here, I started identifying as a member of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) community. I tried researching groups in the community and couldn’t find much. Through the GSA Network, I found out how t0 start a group at my school. I also got support from other people and groups in the area, especially John Duncan, of the Q Collective.
Basically, a Gay-Straight Alliance is a student-led organization led by any student or community member that identifies as a queer youth or an ally to queer youth. It gives them a place to hang out, learn and express who they are, and make connection. I started the group last school year, as a junior. At first, there were probably only two members showing up each week. This year, though, after the first couple of weeks of school, the group grew to 12 or 13 regular members. We meet in the library ever Monday after school.
How can we help?
The biggest thing is just spreading the word about us in the community. We’re here as a resource. In our constitution, we say we want to keep this group and space open for all community members — not just high schools students, but home school students, too. I also want to mention the other relatively new GSA in the area, which was started out of The Launch Pad, a teen center in Prescott. As of yet, we don’t have any funding for the Chino Valley GSA, but we’re working with the Q Collective on some ideas now. I’d like to see a group at the middle school, too, if there are some people who are motivated to start one there. I definitely believe in student-led organizations, in general. I think it creates a stronger bond and more respect between the students and teachers and administrators. … As far as negative attitudes in the community go, I haven’t really heard of any harassment of youth in Chino Valley, though I’ve heard from others there have been issues in Prescott and Prescott Valley. Having said that, there’s some language like saying “that’s gay” or calling someone a “faggot” that’s … well, not grandfathered in, but seems to be acceptable now. But we claim those words for ourselves, too.
We’d be open to people coming in as public speakers or to know about more LGBTQ-friendly or -cooperative businesses. If there’s anybody in the community who can hep with contacts, that’d be great. In terms of speakers, one thing that would be great is someone to talk about nonviolent communication. I’m not sure how to word that, though. Because we’re a group through the school, we don’t want it to fall in the category of “counseling.” Anyway, just spreading a positive message about us would be great.
Contact the Chino Valley Gay-Straight Alliance Club through Chino Valley High School, 928-636-2298. Ask for Mike Fogel, the librarian.
Tags: Aarti Pani, Camden Martinez, cats, Catty SHACK Rescue, Chino Valley GSA, Community Cats, Gay-Straight Alliance, Get Involved, John Duncan, kittens, LGBTQ, queer youth, Sadira DeMarino, Susan Smart