Last month the wonderful dancers of Dancers NW sponsored a benefit for the PAW Team. More than 20 dancers, ranging in age from 9 years to 76 years, gathered to dance for the dogs and cats (and rabbits, ferrets, turtles, hamsters...) of PAW Team. Led by the area's foremost belly dance instructor, Carol Love, it was a delightful event, showcasing the beautiful and ancient art of the dance and the vivacity of the dancers.
They raised several hundred dollars for the PAW Team and an unexpected bonus of the day was that the event also reunited two women, Carol and Suzanne, who had grown up together. Friends since age six, both women are now 76 and went to school together from kindergarten to high school. The demands of families and work separated them but they usually reconnected at high school reunions here in Portland. The last time they saw each other was at their 50th.
When Suzanne found out about the Belly Dancing for PAW Team benefit she immediately signed up to go. She remembered Carol with great fondness and was delighted to have an opportunity to reconnect with her life-long friend.
Why is this unusual? Suzanne moved to an assisted living facility earlier this year and felt that much of what she had known and loved for all her life was now out of her life. She had to give up her two beloved dogs, Sam and Baby Doll, when she moved. More than once she had said: "There's just nothing to live for any more. I was okay until I realized I'd never see my dogs again. They were the reasons I got up every day and they were my constant companions."
I hear this nearly every day from our clients. Living on the streets or in assisted living, our pets keep us going, they are our support network.
Suzanne had lost hope. But when she saw Carol again, the light came back into her eyes. She - as we all were - was inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of her old friend. And she was helping animals.
Like many of our clients, Suzanne, while not homeless, was facing a radical change in her life brought about by circumstances beyond her control. She lost her home, she lost her beloved pets. She lost her reason to live.
Belly dancing for PAW Team did more than reunite two dear old friends. It gave Suzanne a desire to live again. I'm not sure she'll buy a belly dancing costume (as I did at the event) but she has a rekindled spark to want to help people and pets again.
How do I know this?
Suzanne is my mother.