It was ten years ago today, The Pongo Fund opened our doors for the first time, November 9, 2009. What began in the back of a Chevy Trailblazer has blossomed into one of Oregon’s most vital animal welfare groups. And since that day we’ve provided more than 15 million high-quality meals and a whole lot of lifesaving veterinary care, all of it for free, helping 155,000 beloved family pets stay safe at home and out of the shelters. We do it by combining two of the most critical needs in animal welfare, food and medical, and doing work like it’s never been done before.
Food and medical, those are the top two reasons nationally that animals are surrendered to shelters. Flat out, because sometimes people can’t afford to care for the animals they have. Could be any one of us. Could be any number of reasons. But hungry people have hungry pets. And that’s the problem we solve. Ten years later, our award-winning and volunteer driven group continues to provide our services free of charge; consistently and without fail. Keeping animals safe in their homes and out of the shelters, that’s what we do.
Because while adoption is good, not needing to be adopted is even better. And we’re the only group doing it this way.
Thanks to you, during this past year we were a lifesaving resource for more than 100 different social service and other groups, including humane societies, food banks, Veterans resource centers, homeless shelters, senior centers, hospital emergency rooms, domestic violence shelters, school backpack buddy programs and more. In fact, on any given day The Pongo Fund has high-quality pet food in more than 50 different satellite locations throughout Oregon and SW Washington, and our six core programs reach countless people and pets when they need us most.
Thanks to you, The Pongo Fund helps the animals of proud seniors, brave Veterans, the victimized, the marginalized, the unemployed, the disabled, the mentally ill, the hungry, the hurting, the homeless, and good people facing the toughest of times.
That’s what The Pongo Fund does, thanks to programs including our Pet Food Bank, Emergency Kibble Response Team, Mobile Veterinary Hospital, Meals On Wheels, Honored Veterans Program, Emergency Veterinary Care Fund and more
Because sometimes we all can use a little extra help.
We are one group of many groups working to make a difference. But what we do and the way we do it is different than the rest. And we’re proud of that. Because we don’t need another group doing what 10 other groups are already doing. This is a time for risk taking and innovation and running into the challenge, not away from it.
Bottom line is that what we’re doing is working, and the 155,000 animals we’ve helped will be the first to agree.That’s because The Pongo Fund was there for them when they needed us most.
Because each one of you made that possible.
The Pongo Fund is powered by a dedicated volunteer Dream Team, many of whom have been with us since the beginning ten years ago; directors, advisors, veterinarians, kibble packers, community advocates and so many more. Fueled forward by a group of generous and loving donors who keep our shelves stocked. Made proud by millions of kind words that come from each and every one of you. The reality is simple. Without you, there is no us. Because we’re all in this together.
And that’s why I thank you with the biggest thank you possible. Because everything we do, we do together. Helping others like no one else does. Two and four-legged alike. Giving a chance to animals that might not otherwise have a chance and giving hope to people who have little else to be hopeful for.
We are also a solid reminder that you don’t need to be a big group with a big budget to make a big difference. We’re still the same volunteer driven group we were when we started. Small but mighty, and proud of it.
We are proud to do what we do, and we are proud to make the difference we make. But there is still so much more to do, so many more people and pets who need our help.
Which is why we will continue to push forward, working harder and smarter every chance we can, to accomplish things in a way they have never been done before. Because the old school business of animal welfare is no longer the answer.
This past year we came within 72 hours of making our biggest announcement ever. Words that would have echoed near and far for the historic change they would have brought. A few of you knew what was coming. You attended our kibble talks. You listened, we listened. Together we had a dream. And we were that close.
But things beyond our control got in the way. Yet every day since we have worked to perfect that plan, and we continue to push forward to make it happen. Maybe next year will be the year.
I’ve written too much already, and I didn’t even tell you about some of the work we did, about some of the lives we saved, about the people and pets we helped. I didn’t tell you that we won an award, the Shining World Compassion Award, and that brought us a $25,000 prize. It came at a perfect time because our shelves were close to empty after the federal government asked us to step in and help 10,000 furloughed federal workers, including Coast Guard, TSA, Customs and more. I didn’t tell you about the letter we received from the US Department of Homeland Security, telling us the level of support we provided was unprecedented.
It felt good to be of service. You helped make that possible.
I didn’t tell you about the hundreds of calls and letters and emails we received, telling us how many lives we saved. Human lives saved, by saving animal lives. Because for some people, without their pets, they would not be here.
And when a suicide crisis counselor calls to say thank you, then you know you’ve done something special.
But for all I didn’t tell you, I will tell you this. We remain heartbroken over the loss of our dear friend Howard Hedinger. He left us almost nine months ago today, and despite our continuing to drive forward and accomplish at the highest levels, it’s never been the same. Howard left a big hole, and I don’t mind telling you, it still hurts.
It hurts right now because I would have celebrated these words with Howard. I would have shared them with him before I shared them with you. And he would have read these words with tears in his eyes, because he cares that much. Cares as if he’s still here, because for me, he still is.
In honor of 10 years and in memory of Howard, one of our donors has generously presented us with a $10,000 matching gift. Meaning the next $10,000 raised will be TRIPLED.
Now it’s up to you, the very people who do so much for us already. But if you’d like to do a little bit more, to celebrate 10 Pongo years, to celebrate and remember Howard Hedinger, please join us as we work hard to raise the $10,000 to receive the match.
We have three ways to help. Please donate via our Give Guide fundraiser here, https://giveguide.org/#thepongofund%20, or via our website https://bit.ly/2oUZeYh. Or please mail a check to us at The Pongo Fund, PO Box 9000, Portland, OR 97207. As always, please do not hesitate to call or email with any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them.
I’ve rambled through a lot of words here, about 1,500 by the time you get to the end. And what I hope you take away, is that these words are a celebration. Because ten years ago I remember the people who told me we’d never be able to do what I said we would do. They told me we’d never make it. They told me I was a fool. Literally, a fool.
And here we are, 10 years later, with 155,000 animals alive today. All because I was a fool.
I like that.
And it’s all thanks to you.
My name is Larry Chusid, and I am deeply honored to lead this group that is making a difference in ways few thought possible. For the pets, and for the people who love them.
Saving lives since 2009.
And this is why we Pongo.
Sit. Stay. Eat. Live. thepongofund.org