Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bats, Battes, and Adopt-a-Bats

Happy birthday today to my mother Nancy and to my greyhound Mr. Spock!  Mother might not want me to tell the world how old she is, but I’m excited that Mr. Spock is 10.  That’s a pretty big milestone for a greyhound!  It’s appropriate to honor both of them during this month highlighting Bat Conservation International (BCI) because my mother is a Batte, and Mr. Spock’s ears stick up like a bat’s.

Mother likes having the same birthday as Mr. Spock.  In fact, one year she even got Mr. Spock a birthday card.  Well, technically, it was “from” Mother’s dog, a poodle named Peaches.  Before I tell you more about the card, let me explain Mother’s reasoning about family relationships.  Peaches is her dog, which makes him her “son” and, therefore, my “brother.”  Mr. Spock is my dog, which makes him my “son” and, therefore, Peaches’s “nephew.”  So, Mr. Spock received this very cute Snoopy card from “Uncle Peaches.”  I told Mother that it sounds like Mr. Spock’s pimp uncle!

By the way, I’ve never been exactly comfortable will the whole notion of referring to pets as one’s “children.”  “Fur kids” is just as bad – worse, really.  Such labels are demeaning…to the animals.  A few months ago a friend sent me a funny cartoon with a term that describes perfectly my relationship to Mr. Spock, my other dogs, and (I hope) all animals: Beast Friend.

Suppose you just can’t figure out what to get your mother, uncle, Beast Friend, etc. for his/her birthday or other occasion.  Why not adopt a bat from BCI?  The recipient will get a plush stuffed bat toy (choose between the Eastern Red Bat and the Sulawesi Fruit Bat), an official adoption certificate, and complete species profile information about the bat of your choice.  The $25 adoption fee goes toward BCI’s research, conservation, and education work.  Even better, for just $50 your recipient can adopt a bat plus become a BCI member (totally cool!).

Some years ago I got Adopt-a-Bats for Mother and my Aunt Betty (the one I’m named for) for Christmas.  Aunt Betty is Mother’s sister, and so of course, she’s a Batte, too.  And naturally, I had to get an Adopt-a-Bat for myself as well.  Back then you got a photograph of a bat rather than a plush toy.  I selected a Chapin’s free-tailed bat for myself and named him Frank in honor of my grandfather Frank Batte.  I was a little concerned that Mother and Aunt Betty might think this was disrespectful, which of course was not my intent at all.  However, Mother got a big kick out of it.  Then, when I told Aunt Betty about Frank, she laughed and said that she had named her bat Nancy Sue after my mother!

Nancy Batte

Mr. Spock with his bat ears

Frank Batte

Frank Bat

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