Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

June 3, 2014

AT4P helps humans as well as animals

CROSSVILLE — A Time 4 Paws (AT4P) is thought by many as an animal welfare organization that only rescues dogs and cats who are abandoned, abused or neglected and seeks to find a loving home to care for them. There is no question this is a major objective and goal for AT4P, but caring for people who are suffering from cancer is also of major interest.

There are many volunteers for A Time 4 Paws who have cancer stories to tell. The first one will be referred to as Susan D. She was first diagnosed with cancer in 1977. After numerous surgeries, medications, chemotherapy and radiation treatments she became a survivor. However, in 2010 ovarian/cervical cancer was found, and she learned that a complete hysterectomy was needed. She was declared cancer free but with no guarantees.

“Every day I thank God for my life,” she said.

Susan D. became involved with Relay for Life in 2011. She was a team captain and has been active with the program ever since. This year she spoke to Karen McMeekin, founder and president of AT4P, and asked if she would be interested in having a Relay for Life team and booth to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. A team of 15 AT4P volunteers was formed and the name “Paws 4 the Cause” was adopted. Susan D. served as the team captain, with many of the 15 volunteers walking laps during the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. event.

President McMeekin commented, “The biggest satisfaction for me was supporting the survivors during the victory lap and seeing so many familiar faces that crossed the path of A Time 4 Paws over the nine-year presence in the community. A great big thanks to all the volunteers who made it a success.”

Susan D. added, “AT4P has been very fulfilling for me. I am able to help animals that might otherwise be overlooked and makes me feel like I am doing a small part to help. Walking the survivor walk was overwhelming. The people on the sidelines hugging you and crying were amazing.”

Relay for Life raised nearly $93K for cancer research this year. 

The second story is about a lady known as “J” to her friends. One summer day, this petite, distinguished women walked into the A Time 4 Paws Adoption Center, 463 Old Jamestown Hwy. She wasn’t sure why she was there, but after a short tour and conversation with the touring volunteer, she began to cry. Her visit to the adoption center was no coincidence. J was in a state of grieving. Her soul was telling her she needed to give something back because of what her beloved schnauzer dog named Mol Mol had given to her.

J learned that the AT4P touring guide was also a cancer surviving widow and they shared their experiences. J related that after moving to Crossville and building a home with her second husband, he died suddenly from a heart attack. Losing her first husband to cancer and now her second found her falling deeper and deeper from society. Shortly after aimlessly wandering into the Adoption Center, J knew exactly why she was there. This connection with another cancer surviving widow and the surrounding homeless pets gave her joy.

“Cancer affects us all in some way or another,” commented McMeekin. “J found a new friend to help her with her life and a program at AT4P that helped her save animals lives.”

After two years, J is moving past her sadness and depends on her volunteer time with new friends to recover from the losses in her life.

"I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t stop at the Adoption Center that day. I thank God every day for my Mol Mol and A Time 4Paws,” said J.

The final story is about a lady called Donna G. An elderly couple came to the AT4P Pet Hotel one winter day. They knew McMeekin from her rescue background and the Thrift Store where they thought about the idea of volunteering. The purpose of their visit was to ask for help for a fellow parishioner who needed assistance. Donna G. lived alone with her canine companion Skylar, a large mixed breed dog, who was the love of her life. She was advised that she was a victim of cancer. She lived in an old uninsulated mobile home and couldn’t afford to pay the heating bill this past winter. Her income was minimal and her medicines were costly.

Sadly, her beloved canine partner was suffering from some kind of skin infection and could barely stand to be touched. Without heat to stay warm and no money to take Skylar to the vet, she didn’t know where to turn. The lovely couple who came to McMeekin for help advised that they had provided some financial assistance to keep the heat on and closed off spare rooms with plastic that left her with the kitchen and bedroom to heat. Their question for McMeekin was could AT4P provide some help for Skylar? It was explained that AT4P did not have a medical fund for the public, only for animals in their care, but she felt compelled to help.

McMeekin contacted some volunteers and local animal lovers, picked up Skylar from the home and transported him for care at the Village Vet who has been a savior to AT4P in times of need. Donna G. was overwhelmed and grateful, which warmed the hearts of the volunteers who helped. Her friend Skylar was now able to lie close to her, keep her warm and give her inspiration to live.

McMeekin believes in miracles and “paying it forward,” one hand washing another. She strongly believes that if this philosophy would spread throughout the world many many more human and canine lives could be saved.

A Time 4 Paws is always looking for volunteers for the Pet Hotel, Adoption Center or the Thrift Store. Call 456-6906 to learn the time and location of the next orientation meeting. For additional information log on to their website at www.AT4P.org.

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