It was an occasion for reflection, recognition and celebration.
A Life to Live’s first Thanks for Giving dinner and program on Nov. 25 at McLeod Recreation Center in Mont Belvieu brought together our organization’s leadership team, volunteers, fosters, family members and other community supporters for a memorable post-Thanksgiving event.
“Tonight is a special night. It’s a night to give thanks to you: our volunteers, our fosters, our supporters, our partners, our advocates — the people who support life,” said Jay Garrett Jr., founder and executive director of A Life to Live, in kicking off the evening.
Following the post-Thanksgiving potluck feast, Jay shared his personal journey that led to A Life to Live’s launch in 2014. At the core of his story was a desire to ensure that homeless animals in Baytown were given the chance to live their full lives. It’s a mission that remains at the heart of A Life to Live.
The organization has grown by leaps and bounds since those earliest days when Jay was a one-man show. Today, A Life to Live features about 50 active volunteers, including about 25 fosters, who together have contributed more than 20,000 service hours in 2017.
The positive impact that our volunteers and other community supporters have made is reflected in several key statistics. Since our establishment, A Life to Live has enrolled 500 pets into our foster program. In 2017 alone, A Life to Live has saved 239 from Baytown Animal Shelter and adopted out 220 into loving homes.
Our foster parents are currently medicating, bathing, cleaning up after, feeding and loving about 60 dogs and cats in our program. Additionally, in 2017, more than 130 community cats have been serviced through our Good Felines program and nearly 15,000 pounds of pet supplies have been donated for foster animals and pet owners in the community who need help keeping their animals fed.
A major highlight of 2017 was Baytown City Council’s unanimous passage of a no-kill resolution, which was initiated by A Life to Live and carried forward to a vote by council member Robert Hoskins. The measure states that by 2025, 90% or more of all healthy adoptable animals entering the city’s animal control facility will be saved.
For his efforts in support of the no-kill cause, councilman Hoskins received A Life to Live’s Creating a Caring Community Award. It was the first of several honors presented by Jay and Magan Gonzales, co-founder and program director, to recognize significant contributions by volunteers, leadership team members and community supporters who believe in our no-kill mission.
Other award recipients were: Anna Balentine - Compassion Care and Courage Award; David Berkowitz – Voice for the Voiceless Award; Preslie Cox – Commitment to Companionship Award; Deanna Domingue – Foster of the Year Award; Terri Fitch – Compassion, Care and Courage Award; Jay Garrett Sr. – Sustaining Lifesaving Award; Louise Lanham – Volunteer of the Year Award; Amy O’Banion – Commitment to Companionship Award; Jaxson Sanders – Superhero for Shelter Pets Award; Tearsa Smesny – Compassion, Care and Courage Award; and Wrenn Wright – Compassion Care and Courage Award.
“Each and every one of you were invited to this special occasion tonight because of your efforts to save lives while working to serve people and pets within our community,” Jay said to dinner attendees.
“You’ve voiced your love and concern for the welfare of animals within our city. You’ve taken action, you’ve shown up and you’ve committed to making a change. For that, I thank you. For that, my team thanks you. And for your support, the animals surely thank you.”
Written by David Berkowitz, public relations coordinator.