Sunday in the Park
July 29, 2006
The morning glories have started to appear from under my porch and through the redwood boards. Their tiny pink flowers have already climbed up the iron fencing in my yard. Between the rock paths the thyme has produced tiny purple blossoms and covered the edges of the jagged rocks. I walk carefully around the delicate flowers of summer. They remind me how fragile life is and precious and how easy it can be to take the smallest things for granted. Like a safe home.
In the upcoming weeks there are two fundraisers that are shining stars in our extraordinarily giving community. Dramatically different, they tell of our compassion. And both reveal a great deal about what we value.
The Barking Ball has come to be a local’s favorite. As a benefit for the Summit County Friends of the Animals, this event always draws a huge crowd and the most amazing cross-section of the town. People and their pets cross all socio-economic barriers. Republicans don’t all own pugs. Democrats don’t all own golden retrievers. Ailing older people have been found to respond well to the companionship of animals. Abused young people thrive when given the unconditional love of a pet. Rich people have pampered pets and so do poor people.
Out at the Tanger Outlet mall in a storefront called Furburbia, you can adopt a cat or dog. Friends of the Animals makes this possible. It is part of their mission — a successful one — to make this a "no-kill" county. That means they adopt out all abandoned pets that end up in the animal shelters of Summit County and Heber City. They pay for spay and neutering services, vet care and vaccinations. Recently, they have become involved in treating abused horses. For more than three years they have been successful in finding a home for every animal in their care.
Each night when Furburbia shuts down volunteers take the 10-plus dogs and often 30-plus cats home. It keeps them safe, it allows them to develop personalities outside of the kennel environment, and though a great deal of work, it brings joy to the volunteers.
This year there is a new twist to the purpose of the Barking Ball. Besides raising money and awareness for the ongoing work of this organization, they have started a capital campaign to develop an animal sanctuary on more than 60 acres of donated land in Brown’s Canyon. Think Best Friends in Kanab and you quickly have the vision of what president Troy Stevens is passionate about developing. Troy is the guy who, most often, takes those animals home from Furburbia each night. Troy is the one who donated the land. Troy, after Hurricane Katrina last year, traveled in an RV caravan to shelters in New Orleans, picked up the pets who had been in shelters before the storm hit and adopted them out so the shelters could accommodate the rush of pets that appeared when the waters receded. Troy, besides bringing a bottle of wine to a dinner party, always shows up with toys for the pets.
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Years ago, about 20 now, when the late Claire Weiss at Dolly’s Bookstore, her daughter-in-law Shelly and employee Lisa Dawson, started bringing cages to the store with abandoned pets, no one had any visions of what would develop. We printed the "Pet of the Week" — at Claire’s suggestion — in this paper and it has appeared each week since. There are literally hundreds of stories of folks who found their true companions thanks to Friends of Animals. The chance to create a sanctuary for domestic animals and, perhaps one day, wildlife, is an amazing dream, ready to materialize. The group needs to raise about $250,000 to start building the facilities and creating safe, dry and clean temporary spaces to house God’s creatures. The Ball is Aug. 24 at The Lodges in Deer Valley. What a great way to teach your children about giving. And what visible, tangible results you will see!
Not seeing results directly makes for a more difficult kind of giving. Faith-based to be certain, and an issue that sadly crosses all socio-economic barriers. Since the early ’90s Park City has been at the forefront of addressing the issue of domestic violence. The murder of Nada Lee Noble by her estranged husband in front of Albertsons market in February of 1990 forced us to look at how we provide safety for those who have no voice. Police officers took hundreds of hours of training. Churches formed support groups and a core of volunteers, with the quiet and generous support of Deer Valley Resort, built a shelter — the Peace House — in Park City for abused women and their children of Summit and Wasatch counties. And beyond.
The shelter can house no more than 30 guests at any one time and, sadly, it is almost always full. They have a constant need for linens and bedding, teddy bears and blocks, new jeans and winter parkas. And cash to run the shelter and help pay rent and utilities for the first month for women relocating. And education, so children learn healthy touch, so teenage girls know what healthy relationships look like, so abusers can relearn and choose healthy behaviors.
On Aug. 12 the generous folks in Deer Crest will open their multi-million dollar homes to let a thousand strangers wander through and critique their decorating tastes, gardens and choice of kitchen appliances. All to raise the much-needed funds to support the shelter for another year. This home tour supplies more than 25 percent of the operating budget of the Peace House. And it is lovingly, exhaustingly, produced each year by the Park City Board of Realtors. For nearly a decade, this has been their primary gift to the community. While most days they fulfill dreams of people they have shown homes to and worked out their futures, they know there are hundreds of families they will never see who need a safe home and chance to restart their lives.
When I ran away from my abusive marriage in the late ’70s and came to Park City where I knew no one, to start over with my two small children, domestic violence wasn’t part of anyone’s vocabulary. We quickly adopted a cat that Nan Chalat (now Noaker) — this paper’s current editor — had found in a barn in Oakley. She (the cat, not Nan) lived with us for 18 years. As did two other stray cats and a funny looking stray dog who passed away two years ago at age 22. I look back on those first years here and I remember how my little family was treated with such kindness, though nobody knew our story. Park City is a community of caring people who have learned the life lesson that the more you give the more you are. What we get is sometimes invisible, but it is not intangible. It can be as simple as the flowering vines that creep up between the boards and make a plain wooden porch a safe home to call your own each and every day, including Sunday in the Park