A charitiable appeal from SCAtoday.net's founders

We don't normally do this, and we promise not to make a habit of it, but the creators of SCAtoday.net are asking for your help for a very deserving charitable cause this holiday season—a small one with which you probably are not familiar, but which we hope will touch your heart.

The SCA is full of animal lovers, and well known for the number of SCAdians who have adopted coursing hounds who would otherwise have been put down, unwanted and abandoned cats and dogs, horses, and all manner of other animals. This missive concerns the work of a non-SCAdian who shares our love of our fellow creatures.

SCAtoday.net's publisher, Iustinos Tekton, has the good fortune to work for a very small IT consultancy in northern Virginia, a company called Sine Nomine Associates, or SNA for short. SNA is a small company with only about a dozen employees, and SNA strongly encourages community service by those employees, even to the point of giving paid time off for community service that can only be done during working hours.

The Chief Executive Officer is a shining example of that altruistic spirit. E. Margarete Ziemer is the founder and leader of Persian Rescue of Virginia, which shelters and finds homes for abandoned, unwanted, and abused Persian cats.

Margarete has her hands full as the CEO of a young and growing company, but she somehow finds time to offer love and compassion to up to thirty or more cats at a time. We've all heard the heart-rending stories of how animal protection authorities raid places where animals are being starved or otherwise mistreated. What you never hear about is where those animals go after they are taken from their abusive owners. Sometimes they go to worthy organizations like the American Humane Society, but often the Humane Society does not have room in their shelters, or they do not have the resources to care for animals that are so sick their fur is falling out by the handful. Margarete, like other volunteers of kindred spirit, is one of those who takes in these animals, nurses them back to health, and finds loving homes for them when they are well. Her efforts are known and appreciated by local authorities, who call on her frequently.

Margarete's work is supported by several part-time volunteers, but the vast majority of the work falls on her shoulders. She buys litter and cat food, neither of which are inexpensive commodities, in vast amounts, and though she gets a discount from the suppliers, it's still a substantial financial commitment. Margarete has been trained by local veterinarians to do some of the simpler medical procedures herself, and the vets help out when they can by donating free or reduced-cost services for the things Margarete can't do on her own. Some of the cats don't survive, and Margarete is the person who has to make the awful decision to have put down (by a licensed veterinarian, of course) those which are suffering with no likelihood of recovery or improved quality of life. It takes an enormous emotional toll, but she faces up to the necessity of this as part of the love she gives to the cats.

Because the animals are often in poor health, they often require individual food and water dishes and litterboxes. You can imagine how much work it is to maintain all of this; between job and cats, Margarete typically puts in a 12 to 15 hour day six days a week, and 4 to 6 hours on the seventh day just caring for the cats.

Financially, the cat rescue represents a double-digit percentage of Margarete's annual income. This is not a casual donation of a few tens or hundreds of dollars to a charity, such as the rest of us might make, but in fact represents multiple thousands of dollars per year—and she has been doing this for years. Don't let the "CEO" title fool you -- this is a small company, and even executives are not paid what their counterparts at a large company would earn.

The Hurricane Katrina disaster has made things even worse, for several reasons. First, a lot of people who normally would have donated to the local organizations, such as Persian Rescue of Virginia or the Humane Society, have instead given their money to Hurricane Katrina animal rescue efforts. Those rescues are a good and noble thing, for the hurricane left thousands of animals homeless, but that effort has starved resources from other communities that aren't in the news as much. Secondly, the animals rescued in the hurricane-affected areas have, in many cases, been transported to other locations for ongoing care and shelter. Virginia has received its share of animals rescued from New Orleans, and this fact further strains local animal shelter resources. The consequences of Katrina range far wider than just the area directly in its path.

Thus, we come to you, our readers, to ask for your help. If your bank account is not completely empty after all you've done for hurricane relief, tsunami relief, and Toys for Tots (all good and worthy causes), would you please consider offering what support you can for this Persian rescue effort?

Aside from financial support, there are additional things that you can do to help, if you are so inclined:

  • Plain, white bath towels, clean but not necessarily new, are always needed as sleeping pads for the cats and for bathing and grooming. It doesn't matter if they are worn out, as long as they are clean, because sanitation requirements make these often a one-use item anyway. If you or someone you know work in the hotel linen supply business, and you can donate some used bath towels, please contact publisher@scatoday.net to work out the logistics.
  • The Persian rescue is currently operating above normal occupancy, because of all the Katrina-related overflow. If you can adopt a Persian cat in northern Virginia, or if you know someone else who can, please contact the rescue team.
  • Donations of supplies may be helpful, but contact Margarete before sending anything. The special medical needs of these cats require particular brands of food and litter; she cannot use some types.

We of the Current Middle Ages espouse the chivalric ideals of medieval knighthood, one of which is to be the "shield of the weak", protector of those who cannot protect themselves. It is hard to imagine a more perfect example of this noble value than the act of rescuing animals from abusive or neglectful owners, nursing them back to health with loving hands, and then finding them homes where warm human hearts will welcome and care for them.

Thus, we ask you, our readers, to join with us in supporting this effort by a truly good and kind person, even though she is not herself SCAdian. We promise not to make a habit of asking for donations to this or other charities, but right now the need is very great, and Margarete is struggling with funding for the rescue amid illness in her immediate family that has brought hospital expenses.

If you can help with a donation, please send a check (in any amount of your choosing) to:

Persian Cat Rescue
c/o Margarete Ziemer
43590 Blacksmith Square
Ashburn VA 20147
Because there is as yet no nonprofit corporate registration, please make the checks payable to Margarete Ziemer, and write Persian rescue in the memo line of the check. We would not normally ask people to write checks to a private individual, but Justin and Milica know Margarete personally, and we enthusiastically vouch for the legitimacy and honesty of this project. If you send a donation, please send a brief email to publisher@scatoday.net to let us know, so we have some idea how much has been raised.

Margarete is working on getting Persian Rescue of Virginia set up as a registered tax-exempt charity, but the legal paperwork hasn't been completed yet. Thus, unfortunately, donations are not currently tax-deductible. That doesn't mean there is any less need, however.

If you are interested in adopting one of these Persian cats, please follow the "original article" link below, or any of the several links in this missive, to learn more. The web listing of cats available for adoption may not be completely up to date, as this changes quite often, so contact Margarete to learn more.

We do not accept advertising on SCAtoday.net, and we do not solicit monetary contributions to help fund the site (in fact, we have politely declined such offers from readers). The site is provided by a staff of volunteers, and funded out-of-pocket, as a labor of love. But we do occasionally receive a question from a reader, asking, "What can we do to say thanks for SCAtoday.net?" This letter from us is the answer to that question. We do not want or need contributions ourselves, but if you appreciate SCAtoday.net and would like to say thanks, would you consider sending your thanks to a cause that needs it more than we do?

Thank you for reading, and thank you for offering what support you can.

Sincerely,
Maistor Iustinos Tekton called Justin, Publisher
THL Milica of Varna, Editor-In-Chief