If you’ve ever thought that one person can’t make a difference, I am here today to change your mind.
Take Nancy G. Brinker, for example. She made a promise to her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Her promise was the seed that grew into the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Frank Shankwitz is another example. He schemed the plan for Make-A-Wish after he saw the smile on a weary mother’s face when a policeman went beyond the call to make her terminally ill son’s lifelong wish a reality.
Nancy and Frank were regular people with a dream to make the world a better place. But, what sets them apart is that they had the guts to put a plan in motion.
It’s not every day that you get to meet someone like this. I feel lucky that I recently crossed paths with one such person.
Kate Quinn is a professional photographer by day, but in her spare time she runs the Wet Nose Pet Food Pantry. Quinn founded Wet Nose in mid-2011 with the mission to help those in need feed the four-legged members of their family. And in this tough economy, her foundation couldn’t have begun at a better time.
It all started when Quinn ran her first pet-food drive as a service project in 2003 for a course requirement at Columbia College.
"I collected food and supplies for a cat shelter, a ferret shelter, and two dog rescue groups," said Quinn. "It was such a joy to deliver all that ‘stuff’ to them!"
In 2010, Quinn conducted a second pet food drive around Thanksgiving time to help local veterans feed their pets.
"It was a success," recalls Quinn, but she observed that other segments of the population needed help feeding their pets as well. Quinn asked herself, "Why not help all people and pets in need regardless of their military service?"
Quinn then started collecting pet food and supplies, and storing them in her basement. She quickly realized she needed a larger storage space, and moved her operation to Eagle Storage in Downers Grove. She also developed an application process to help her organize the distribution.
"The pantry is stocked by generous donations from people and occasionally stores in the community" explains Quinn. "When essential supplies run out, like kitty litter, I use some of the pantry money to replenish."
While food and supplies are being collected constantly, the distribution of the goods happens twice monthly on Saturday mornings.
"I do post on my web site that only the first 10-15 eligible people in line each distribution day can receive assistance" said Quinn. "Any more than that, and our supplies could be seriously depleted or completely exhausted in a single day."
Wet Nose is a one-woman operation for now, but Quinn would welcome volunteers.
"It would be great to have at least one or two people to help on distribution days," said Quinn. "It would only be an 1½ hour commitment twice a month. Volunteers could help clients bring supplies to their cars and help organize the storage unit after clients leave."
While Quinn runs Wet Nose as a not-for-profit organization, she is not yet qualified to be a 501(C)(3) charity yet.
"I will need a few more people on board, as well as more money before that can happen," explains Quinn.
Quinn has her heart in the right place, as well as the drive to make Wet Nose a success. If you would like to help Quinn be the powerhouse nonprofit it is destined to become, there are a few ways you can help. Visit her web site and click on the "how to help" tab.
Wet Nose has six permanent donation drop boxes located in Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Woodridge, Westchester and Franklin Park. You can also drop off donations at Eagle Storage (555 Rogers Street in Downers Grove) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Monetary donations can be mailed to Wet Nose Pet Food Pantry, 1208 71st St. #8, Downers Grove, IL 60516. And finally, you can always meet Quinn at an event, such as The Taste of Westmont on July 13-15, where she sets up a table and promotes Wet Nose.
If you are in need of assistance, or know someone who is, fill out the form on the web site.
Quinn is an inspiration to all of us who want to make a difference and an example of how to make something good happen. In five years, when Wet Nose Pet Food Pantry has met its full potential, I will be proud to say, "I knew her when ..."