So we invite you to be a part of the conversation. Please share a story of how you or someone you know has made a difference in their community or our country.
Tell us where you see the values of opportunity, equality, and fair play at work in your life.
Explain how you or your organization have been involved in grassroots political organizing or activism that has been effective. What was the issue and what was the outcome?
And if you have ideas or suggestions for better ways to drive an agenda about promoting the American Dream, what are they?
These stories and ideas will be the foundation of a book I am writing about the power of ordinary Americans to shape this country’s future and protect the American Dream. We would love to include yours.
My name is Greer and I am 13 years old. I believe in volunteering and helping your community and that that will make our country better. I am passionate about helping animals and in my pursuit to do that, I volunteer with cats and dogs at the Bide-a-wee shelter in New York City. I always wanted a dog when I was younger but my parents said I had to earn it. We had already gone through fish and hamsters and we fostered three abandoned four-week-old kittens. It was time to step it up. When I was 8 years old, my mom and I stopped to pet a dog on the street (something we did often). The owner told us that if I loved animals, we should volunteer at a shelter nearby called bide-a-wee. That day my volunteering began. I started by taking a class for new volunteers where I was told a litter of ten puppies had just been born. For 8 weeks, I socialized the 10 puppies every day after my day camp. I cleaned up after them, washed them, fed them, and taught them what I could. I made sure they felt loved and cared for—and ready for adoption. Socializing the dogs ensures that they become friendly and not aggressive, territorial, or shy so that they can be ready to go to a nice, family. I also walk the dogs and exercise them. If I had to miss a day of volunteering at bide-a-wee, I would be so sad! The manager was so impressed with my dedication that she let me have the pick of the litter. And, apparently, my commitment to the shelter meant I had earned that pup because my parents said I could bring her home. Since that summer, and for the last 5 years, I have spent endless hours taking care of hundreds of dogs and cats, young and old, abused, sick ones including a blind cat, dogs with broken limbs—one was even missing a leg, a cat who had been partially burnt, and a special dog in my heart named Daisy Duck who waddled because her back legs were paralyzed. Daisy Duck didn’t make it, but I have watched so many animals get adopted into loving homes. We now have another dog, Curly, who was about to be euthanized at the Animal Control Center when bide-a-wee, (a no-kill shelter) got the call to take him in. I love animals and I am committed to helping as many as I possibly can.
Since I cannot advertise in magazines or on TV or with big posters around the city, I try to be a walking advertisement and educate the people I meet, on the issues of animal cruelty, stray animals, shelters, euthanizing of animals, and puppy mills. I wrote a persuasive letter to the President about how puppy mills should be banned and how animal cruelty should be considered a more serious criminal offense. I sent the letter to him, hoping he will hear my cry for help, since the animals cannot speak for themselves. Now that I am a little older and in 8th grade, I can start to raise money for the shelter. Through my school I am beginning to work on having every student who goes to an afterschool dance or event, bring food, blankets, toys, and litter to be dropped off before entering the event. These items are sorely needed. Also, I have given money I earned (not enough) to the shelter.
I had to learn about what it meant to give unconditionally. This realization was a big moment for me because as a kid it’s all about the love you get and about the giving that comes your way. It is about getting, not giving. As one matures, one finds two different kinds of love: selfish and unselfish. The kind of love I have for the shelter dogs is unselfish and that is the most fulfilling. How ironic that when I started volunteering I thought that I would be helping the dogs. Instead these animals really helped me find the true meaning of giving.