On July 14, 1998, Chad and I walked into Lindley Park Recreation Center in Greensboro, NC, to pick up two kittens from a lady named Sharon. Not to keep. Just to foster until they found new homes.
Little did I know that twenty years later, we’d still be getting foster kittens from Sharon, settling them in at our house, taking them to adoption fairs, and delivering them to wonderful new homes.
But I’m so glad that Chad and I saw a sign for an adoption fair outside Borders bookstore on High Point Rd (both of which are gone now — Borders out of business and High Point Rd renamed Gate City Blvd).
I’m glad we went and talked to one of the volunteers (Michelle Clontz, who looked a little disappointed that we weren’t there to adopt, but answered all our questions about volunteering and fostering).
I’m glad we took the phone number to call about becoming a volunteer (even back then a voicemail system because ARFP was and still is a 99.9% volunteer organization — just one paid employee, so no staff to answer phones).
I’m glad I called and left a message that we were interested in fostering kittens — and kept calling every few weeks to let them know we were still interested and to call whenever they needed us.
And I’m so, so glad for the day that Sharon Gray called me at work, asked me some questions to make sure Chad and I would be good foster parents, and told us to come to the ARFP meeting that night to pick up two kittens who were being returned by their adopters.
Back then, ARFP didn’t have an adoption center. We went to pet stores and other businesses in the Greensboro area, setting up tables and cages and puppy pens so people could meet the pets we had for adoption.
I still remember our first adoption fair (Pet Supplies Plus on High Point Rd, where our foster kittens Bastille and Mandeville got a good application).
I remember delivering Bastille and Mandeville to their new home, before we knew about doing slow introductions when there’s already a cat in the home (we got SO lucky — the resident cat took to Bastille and Mandeville immediately, no hissing or growling at all).
I remember the first foster kitten we lost, and the first miracle baby who pulled through.
I wish I could say I remember all of our foster kittens, but there have been hundreds. I wish I’d done a scrapbook with pictures of all of them.
Still, I loved each and every one of them. And I’ve learned so much over the years. More than I ever thought I could know about cats, but also about people and working together to get things done. I’ve watched ARFP grow and change, and I can say without a doubt that volunteering with this group is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.
Not surprisingly, Chad and I spent our 20th anniversary of volunteering with ARFP the same way we’ve spent so many Saturdays over the years — at an adoption fair, helping find homes for puppies and kittens.
And coming home with a new foster kitten. We have seven total in the house right now, three in Chad’s office (Ricky, Piper, and Phoebe), and four in mine (Ramona, Beatrice, Sendak, and Seuss).
I don’t know if we’ll still be volunteering in another twenty years, and I don’t know what ARFP will look like then. But I know that on this day, twenty years ago, I gave my heart to rescue cats, and I plan to keep saving them for as long as I can.