When I was a kid, the only people who advocated for environmentalism were fringy hippies. But the times, they are a-changin'.
It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.
But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.
Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.
So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.
"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."
"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.
Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.
"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."
But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.
Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."
They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.
"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."
Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."
Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.
Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."
Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."
"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."
The U.S. Supreme Court's swing to the right under the Trump presidency puts abortion rights in peril throughout the United States. The Court's decision not to act on a Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks has opened the floodgates for other states to restrict freedoms.
The Texas law deputizes its citizens to report those who've had an abortion after the fetus has a heartbeat or anyone who assisted in the process. Reporters whose information leads to a successful conviction can be awarded up to $10,000 by the state.
The law is astonishing in a state that claims to value freedom. What's more authoritarian than paying your citizens to snitch on each other for their personal health decisions?
"No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark," Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd at the Rally for Abortion Justice in Washington.
#NOW: The Women’s March is back in the nation’s capital for the Rally for Abortion Justice, a multi-city round of p… https://t.co/qGFbaj8jeb— Alejandro Alvarez (@Alejandro Alvarez) 1633197636.0
In December, the Court is set to hear another landmark case in which the state of Mississippi is asking the justices to strike down a longstanding legal precedent that prevents restrictions on abortion access before a fetus is viable outside of the womb, which is at around 22 to 24 weeks.
Mississippi wants to ban abortions after 15 weeks.
Legal experts believe that if the court sides with Mississippi it could lead to an "inevitable cascade" of laws that would ban abortion.
"The Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade has said that there's a right to choose abortion before viability," Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University College of Law and author of the book, "Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present," told PBS.
"So if the court is going to uphold this law as we expect it to, the court will either have to overrule Roe entirely or we'll have to see that pre-viability bans are OK and potentially open the door to all kinds of legislation and to a decision overruling Roe down the road," she added.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Americans stood up to support abortion rights at 660 rallies across the country. The rallies were organized by the Women's March, in partnership with more than 90 groups, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Center for American Progress.
"I think it's important to understand that pretty much everybody knows somebody that's had an abortion," Women's March Executive Director Rachel O'Leary Carmona told CNN.
"It's important for us to hear all these stories," she said. "It also is a bit of a tragedy that you know, folks have to put their pain out on display for us to be taken seriously. So what we're trying to do today is make sure we all lift our voices in solidarity with each other to make sure the folks in power hear our message."
While this is a dark time for women's rights in America, many who came out to the rallies used their creativity to express their anger at this unprecedented assault on women's rights.
Here are some of the most creative and powerful signs from Saturday's pro-choice rallies.
Where is the movement for #AbortionJustice? Where was the media? https://t.co/LlcxTYdrWo— Just Mary (@Just Mary) 1633302820.0
HELLO GOOD MORNING. it's a marvelous day to be marching for #AbortionJustice 💖 https://t.co/xkxjZ1tpDV— UltraViolet (Text JOIN to 98688) (@UltraViolet (Text JOIN to 98688)) 1633187936.0
NYC comes out for #AbortionJustice, as only NYC can. #MarchForReproductiveRights https://t.co/usU4zwjuXs— act.tv (@act.tv) 1633199914.0
Still on message in Media PA @womensmarch https://t.co/CGvYzD7LzB— Mary Ann S. (@Mary Ann S.) 1633212154.0
I was so happy to meet an amazing online & Orange County activist @kristine_kenyon
& her brilliant daughter in person for the 1st time @ the #WomensMarch in Laguna Beach.
We must fight for the women in our lives as well as for our posterity!#AbortionJustice #ReproductiveRights pic.twitter.com/lqTpLnDIYY
— Malena-Anti-racist #maskup 🌊 & Fight Tyranny! (@tweetMalena) October 2, 2021
10.02.2021 #abortionjustice rally in #roc https://t.co/TEO5sQzVKA— I grow things 🌸🐯🌱🌻👶 (@I grow things 🌸🐯🌱🌻👶) 1633266897.0
I think the sign says it all! 🤷♀️ #ProChoice #mybodymychoice #AbortionIsHealthcare #AbortionIsAWomansRight… https://t.co/rao40GC4ey— Emily Power (@Emily Power) 1633279860.0
Quite possibly the best one yet here at the Anchorage #abortionjustice Rally #DontTreadOnMe #WomensMarch… https://t.co/XtqSNvnqs3— IndivisibleANC (@IndivisibleANC) 1633206677.0
No #forcedbirth but how about Mandatory Vasectomy?! #AbortionJustice https://t.co/xf4IRSXPDf— Spooky Iris Weiss 👻🎃 (@Spooky Iris Weiss 👻🎃) 1633201974.0
At the nyc #WomensMarch2021 . These women… #TexasWarOnWomen #AbortionIsHealthcare #WomensRights #AbortionJustice… https://t.co/9qZVLTphKL— AngryNYCGal (@AngryNYCGal) 1633264755.0
The women’s march in Vancouver WA today was powerful. BLM joined us in our common purpose to raise awareness of equ… https://t.co/ouq7Sh2LP9— TPBlue (@TPBlue) 1633219092.0
fresno protest today <3 #ProChoice #BansOffOurBodies #WomensMarch https://t.co/Tf57x6eNWO— Violet (@Violet) 1633205940.0
@RonFilipkowski We support Texas #BansOffOurBodies #WomensMarch2021 #Pittsburgh https://t.co/jV4eQWehMs— Freakin Reya Sunshine 🌵 (@Freakin Reya Sunshine 🌵) 1633212968.0