Oil on canvas, 12x12, by David Munford. To be donated to the Sullivan County animal shelter in Rock Hill, N.Y.
For years, I worked at the Times Herald-Record, a daily newspaper in Middletown, N.Y. I was hired as the art director, and eventually became the Sunday editor. I was one of a four-person team of friends who ran the newsroom. It was a job I'd thought I would have forever, at the newspaper I thought I'd retire from, in the place I'd thought I would set down roots.
In July 2006, my mother died. In January 2007, Mike Levine, the editor of the Record, and a dear friend of mine, died. In April 2007, my job was eliminated and I was sent packing.
I am starting to be grateful for this awful stretch of upheaval. The fire is starting to leave my anger, the desolation starting to leave my sadness. If all this hadn't happened, I wouldn't be where I am today.
Mary Esparra, a fellow animal lover, lost her full-time job at the Record before I lost mine. But she has continued to serve as the link between readers of the Record and pets who need homes. Weekly, as a freelancer, she writes the "Pets of the Week" column, showing pictures of animals who need homes, and giving brief stories about them. (Jojo, one of our dogs, came from this very column). She also writes "Shelter Tails," stories about shelters, animals in them, people who run them, events happening at them.
Mary has been doing this for 10 years. Ten years! It would be impossible to count the numbers of connections she has helped forge, the numbers of animals who have found homes because of her, the numbers of lives that have been enriched.
I contacted her when the Art for Shelter Animals Project began. When someone from the area got involved, she said, she would write about it. And sure enough, she has. David Munford, who lives in Grahamsville, N.Y., is a wonderful and talented artist who's made three paintings for the shelter in Rock Hill, N.Y. Mary has interviewed him about his participation, and has written a story about out project.
Mary and I spoke yesterday, and she was excited about the whole thing. As I write this, her piece has not yet appeared on line, but when it does, I will add the address, so you all can read it.
Thank you to David for your beautiful paintings, and for taking up the cause in the mid-Hudson Valley. Congratulations to Mary for 10 years of helping homeless pets! And thank you to her for writing about our project.