Blog Post # 5, February 13, 2021

An Amazing Journey: A Story about How Humans Learned to Speak Up for their Pets

Then… was the beginning of my incredible journey in positions of service to the community in which I reside and the organizations that I had just joined. At almost eighty years of age I was, once again, a “newbie” and a “greenhorn”. As always, I stepped up to help out and to serve.

In the beginning, I was just one of the older residents in the community of older persons. Initially, I joined the Critters Club, an organization that supported the pets and pet owners in Quail Creek.  I was a pet owner with two larger dogs needing lots of exercise. A few months later, I joined the Writers and Poets Club because I was a writer and poet. Between these two organizations and staying active with all the amenities the communities offered, I stayed busy. In the process of staying involved, I met a lot of really amazing residents many with similar backgrounds and interests.

Early on, in both clubs, I volunteered to help out and serve. A few months into my residential tenure, I somehow became the President of the Writers and Poets of Quail Creek. And true, I did not know exactly how or why this position had been conferred on me. I had just indicated my interest in helping out this fledgling club of six to eight members. Then, by some mysterious process, I became the person in charge of the club. This pattern was to repeat itself in the ensuing months of my residency in the community.

As I mentioned above, I had joined the Critters Club. Within our community this was a large organization. I had joined the Critters Club as a means of supporting the health and wellbeing of my pets. Shortly after joining, my role as just a member with two big dogs quickly changed as I became the President of two hundred other pet owners and their pets. What follows is the story of how this all happened and a few of the accomplishments and wonderful experiences that have followed. I am not sure that I can adequately explain all that I have experienced both positive and challenging. 

So, yes, I had joined the Critters Club and one year later had become the President of the club. No election; no process except perhaps through osmosis I guess. It just happened. Mysterious.

The Critters Club is, in fact, one of the oldest and largest chartered clubs in the community. It was twenty times the size of the Writers and Poets of Quail Creek. I did not volunteer to be the President. I was busy enough enjoying my retirement years in a community full of amenities and things to do. Then, one day, I remember sitting at my computer and reading an email sent by the current President of the Critters Club expressing his desire to retire and calling for volunteers to assist with the organization during the time of transition. 

It was mid-November and I waited to hear back from the President before year end indicating who had responded to his call for help. And sure enough, a month or so after I had “raised my hand” to “help out”, I got a phone call from the retiring President whom I had never met. He informed me that I had been the only member (out of nearly one hundred memberships and 200 residents) who had responded to his call for help. This was a large organization with a few members who had been a part of it for over ten years. It really surprised me that no else had stepped forward to help. In the same conversation, the President told me that I had been “elected” by default and, if I wanted the job, I was the new President of the Critters Club. I wondered, “why me?”

I told him that if I could find 8-10 members who would assist me with this challenge of leading the club forward, I would accept the position. I wondered what I was getting myself involved with and just what the responsibilities of the position entailed. I discussed the matter with a few close friends who also Critters Club members. They offered support and a willingness to assist. So, I assumed the role as President.

President of the Critters Club. The following week I met with the outgoing President to learn about all that he been doing in his position as President. It was now January and was now President of two clubs! I had not sought either position. I still hold both positions as acts of service to my community.

When I became President of the Quail Creek Critters Club, I did not know what to expect nor did I know what to do. I had not been nominated for the position nor had I been elected. True, I volunteered to help out in some capacity.  Now I was in charge. My journey was just beginning. I went right to work and worked in same manner that I had approached my challenges as a lifetime long athlete, educator and leader. I simply tried the best I could do to contribute. I would give these positions the best I had to offer.

Now… as I look back on the past thirteen months of my work with the Critters Club, I can only smile. There have been many positive moments have been a part of my journey. It has been an amazing journey.

Here is an example: despite being impacted by ten months of the COVID19 virus, last year the membership in the club increased by over 100%. The funds in the Critters Club bank accounts tripled in size. And, as we enter another year with the virus still influencing our lives, it became time to renew all club memberships for the upcoming year. As I write this little story, we are not even two weeks (only eleven days) into the new year. Yet, the following events border on the amazing.  

In just eleven days, the club has a total of more than 98 members. This is the largest total number of memberships for any previous year (in just eleven days) in the history of the club except for that of the previous year. This is a positive trend. There are no prior membership statistics in the club records that come close to comparing to what has been demonstrated in just these eleven days.

For example, we have more new/first time members in a single year than ever before and we have more donors who have donated ten times more money to the club than ever before in an entire year, in just eleven days. We have 24 members on our donors list (twice as many as in the whole last year). Our overall membership total is well on its way to break the previous one year record established this past year. These numbers are inspiring and signify to me that the Critters Club is becoming a large and influential group of residents who care about the well-being of their pets. True, it may be a little early to make these projections, but I believe in our club and its agenda, our members and their passion and enthusiasm and in our compassion for those who have no voice.

Our human voices need to be heard and respected by the Board and administration of the Property Owners Association. In fact, we are now on the way to becoming not only one of the oldest chartered clubs but the largest chartered club in the community. Yet sadly, the dog park, the only gathering place for our resident pet owners and our pets, is not recognized in such a way that it receives any significant funding from the POA budget which is supported by the HOA funds of every resident in our community. And, again sadly, it is not maintained in a manner consistent with other common areas and amenities in the whole community. It is an eyesore within the otherwise beauty of our community. It is time for change! Not in the future but now! We deserve be treated better and with respect!

Written by Paul Riggins, President of the Quail Creek Critters Club, January 11, 2021

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