In the world of homeless pets and pet rescue and welfare, bad news often outweighs the positive. But Saturday night was one of those rare moments, a surprise. Life is full of surprises.
This past week I attended the BlogPaws conference in Nashville, Tennessee, a social media conference for pet bloggers. Saturday night was the final evening and award ceremony. While I've sat through scores of award banquets, this one was different. For 20 plus years of my adult life, I've listened and watched as friends, colleagues, and strangers are announced the winners for an achievement in their work, or school or sport and take the stage and accept their award. Some times I'll shed a tear or two of joy, even for complete strangers, moved by their story. This night was different that sent shock waves. My name and Riverfront Cats was announced as the winner of an award.
|Harrison Forbes ( Pet Talk host) & Christine Michaels|
Best Use of Social Media by a Nonprofit Organization
Facebook Auction for Rogér, the Miami Le Chat Noir
My body was shaking as I stood at the podium. I have no fear of public speaking as I do it every week quite comfortably and for many years. I was in shock to be named the winner. Given the company I shared in this category, I did not expect to win. When you least expect it, life is full of surprises. And one pleasant surprise can uplift years of painstaking work My blog is directly related to a cause.
|Christine in shock during acceptance speech|
The award was specific to a Facebook auction (the use of social media) we held for a black cat that suffered a slashed throat and dislocated jaw. This cat looks exactly like the famous French poster, Le Chat Noir. So we gave him an American name with a French accent, Rogér. The vet bill was avalanching, approaching $4,000. At the time, I was speaking to a friend and fellow cat blogger, Tamar from I Have Cat, and we brainstormed on fundraising ideas. Thus the idea was born for a fun auction before Christmas time with cute and unique cat products. While it was a lot of work, it was fun observing the heated but friendly competition as cat lovers outbid each other for an cat-auction item all for a good cause.
|Poster on left, Rogér on right|
This is what BlogPaws is about--connecting pet bloggers, pet guardians, pet experts (speakers, trainers, veterinarians) from across the country, to improve the welfare of all pets by sharing knowledge, studies and stories. The body of knowledge surrounding health and behavior of pets is still evolving. Teamwork makes a difference!
While this award is not the Nobel Peace prize, in my world, I bring peace to a world of homeless cats and to a community to learn to understand and appreciate that these harmless creatures want to live in harmony with people and nature. As a hands-on volunteer and pet blogger, I am proud of the work I have undertaken for the past six years to make a difference for the welfare of feral and abandoned cats. The physical labor and the mental work in raising awareness, educating residents and communities and caring for the stray cats is no walk in the park. It's often painstaking and heartbreaking but we forge ahead. I AM an optimist. This is no small award. This is a major milestone.
|Christine on red carpet after receiving award|
This award gives me closure to every community cat that has suffered an injury or died.
This award gives me continued motivation and strength to do battle and enlighten closed minds.
This award gives me hope that we can reverse the rate of homeless cats and pets.
Congratulations to my fellow nominees and the winners. I'm honored to be in your company!
Thank you to those who took the time to nominate me. Thank you BlogPaws for the recognition!
Thank you Sabrina Vega and Mollie Smith for your generosity of time and spirit in feeding and caring for the Riverfront Cats. Thank you Deb Barnes for your friendship, role model as a gifted writer, and for serving on our board of directors. Special thanks to Tamar Arslanian for your friendship, endless creativity, and genuine heart-- you are always giving, willing to help those in dire need. This auction would not have happened without you! Thank you MOM for instilling in me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. You are the perfect example! And to the biggest hero of all, Thank you Karen Payne, for your tireless devotion and sacrifice in caring for Rogér during this recuperation until we find him a permanent home!!!
Stay tuned for a writeup regarding the adventures of the entire BlogPaws experience in Nashville, TN!
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