Archive for June, 2011

June 28, 2011

Pets over People?

A terrier wearing a $5,000 diamond 'coat' sips from a bottle of champagne

Before continuing to read this post, check out this slideshow .  If you’re anywhere near my income bracket, my guess is that your eyes widened slightly, and your jaw dropped a little.  Now, please don’t get me wrong- I love animals.  In fact, my first degree is in animal science.  Gimli, my miniature dachshund, and Robby the Scottie, have amassed their own wardrobe over the years consisting of coats, rain slickers, booties, t-shirts, sweaters,  hats, and bandannas.   The only really necessary items in that collection are maybe one sweater and the raincoat for Gimli, the truly modern metrosexual of dogs, who loves each and every item in his clothing chest.  On the other hand, Robby ducks his head down and puts his tail between his legs when he sees the head-hole of his reindeer sweater or spider Halloween costume approaching his face.  Even Apolla the parrot is getting her own threads as she recently had a feather-plucking episode that left her completely naked.  Before you go thinking I’m totallyout of my mind, being featherless is extremely dangerous for a bird for many reasons, so I swear these are necessary.

The new wrap with attachable cape I ordered my Sun Conure, Apolla (not shown here)

Robby looking sad in his Halloween costume

I would estimate that over the last 10 years of animal ownership, my two dogs and one bird have garnered about $400 in clothing.  $400?!?!  For (some) animals who don’t even like to wear clothing (because they’re animals and not people).  That is outrageous, yet it is nothing compared to the clothing displayed in the slide show referenced earlier.  My $400 dollars alone could buy 8 really nice, warm jackets, 400 pairs of mittens or hats, and 8-10 warm and dry pairs of boots.  Use your imagination to picture how many people could have clothing for the $5000 price tag of the diamond jacket in the photo on above.

Clearly, I have no objection to people wanting to take care of and spoil their pets a little bit.  That is the point of bringing a pet into  your home- to enjoy it and enhance both of your lives.  My point is that everyone, and I am definitely included in this,  should be aware about the possible message we let society give us, and that we then pass along to others.  Until writing this post, I had not realized the insane amount of clothing my animals own.  It’s almost embarrassing to admit that my dog has more coats than most people do, especially in the line of work I am in.

The pet industry in the United States is a $50 billion a year business.  It is actually one of the only sectors of the economy considered to be recession resistant, as it continues to make gains in profit margins even up through 2010.  Check out this article detailing the growth in pet-related trends from 2010, including pet clothing.   Meanwhile, up through 2009, clothing sales declined by 5%.  Draw your own conclusions.

For some people, pets do come before other human beings.  Is that really a  society that we want to live in, or a sentiment that we want to buy into, though?  Remember, we are all only one paycheck away from being in a situation where we may need help from others.  Just something to think about…

June 17, 2011

Check out Manchester Continuum of Care- You’ll be Glad that You Did!

There are hundreds of really great organizations doing really awesome things in Manchester, no one can deny that.  You may not have heard of  Manchester Continuum of Care  , but they are an organization that stands out in their initiatives to create awareness about and help end homelessness in the Queen City.   MCoC is a collaborative of dozens of organizations that both research, fund, and implement programs to support the goal of ending Manchester homelessness in 10 years.

One of their initiatives, Project Homeless Connect, is a whole day event in December that is basically akin to a career or college fair.  In one place, Manchester residents in need can find everything they might be searching for, from haircuts to housing consultations.  In 2009, this project served over 125 NH residents.

The Point in Time Count is an accurate tally of the homeless population.  Volunteers are sent out into the city and count each homeless resident and family that they encounter.  This provides much needed data on both the local and national level, which affects important decisions that are made regarding this population.  The next Point in Time Count wil be on Wednesday, June 29th.  Volunteers are in special demand for this event.

MCoC’s Annual Homeless Needs Assessment is an important and empowering initiative.  MCoC staff and volunteers survey the city’s homeless residents, asking about their demographics, history, and the services that they’re not currently receiving which they need to be.  This survey gives a voice to people who are many times powerless, and lets them communicate their story and their needs.

The Homeless Service Center is a brilliant idea to come out of MCoC.  Many area shelters require residents to leave during the day.  For many people, this means a day outdoors with nowhere to go.  For some, this can be an unsafe situation.  The service center is a daytime shelter, providing people who need it a safe, indoor facility until they can return to the overnight shelters.

We at Warmth From the Millyard encourage you to check out MCoC’s website by clicking on any of the links in this post.  Their research on our city is eye opening, and their initiatives to be a solution to the problems of homelessness, and of those faced by people who are without affordable housing, are inspiring.  Volunteers are needed for all of their events, and we encourage you to get involved if you are so moved.  Great work, MCoC! You are an asset to our community!

June 2, 2011

Warm Weather Seasons are a Great Time to Host Winter Clothing Drives

Just take it from the folks in the Global Awareness Club at New England College…

Henniker, NH- After the first week, the boxes were bare- and they began to get nervous. Yet, Caitlyn Mattil and her fellow members of Global Awareness at New England College continued to check the boxes they had plac

Fellowship Housing Opportunities in Concord, NH

ed around campus in their clothing drive for Concord’s Fellowship Housing Opportunities.

The partnership developed in March when Miss Mattil found a posting from Fellowship Housing on a volunteer website run by UNH Manchester’s Warmth From the Millyard project. The posting asked for warm clothing items. Being seasoned college students, Miss Mattil and her friends knew that the end of the semester was a perfect time to hold a clothing drive, as students are packing their things to head home for the summer. She says that, “Students usually don’t have a lot of money to donate to fundraisers, …but with spring coming up I figured that people might be willing to part with their winter gear.” And she was right. One day at the end of April, on their routine box check they found them all full. The clothing kept rolling in, eventually filling an entire van.

No one was more excited than Fellowship Housing’s Kathy Michael. While collecting winter clothing in the spring may seem counterintuitive, to the nonprofits that distribute the clothing it is a godsend. “Even though spring and summer are not a time that coats are in use, it would give us a stockpile to have ready for the upcoming fall. Thanks to the Global Awareness team at NEC for a job well done! We can’t thank you enough, and now we are one step ahead for the upcoming winter.”, says Ms. Michael.

The Global Awareness club also found it a rewarding experience. In reference to the club, Miss Mattil reports that, “We were all really happy to be able to help the Fellowship Housing to get more coats for next winter, and it felt really great to know that something we’d done would actually make a difference in the lives of people around us.” They are already planning a future drive for Fellowship Housing Opportunities, as well as volunteering to assist with other projects.

In its first year, New England College’s Global Awareness Club aims to foster more understanding about local, national, and global social issues amongst NEC students, and to promote volunteerism both on and off campus. For more information contact Caitlyn Mattil at

Fellowship Housing Opportunities, Inc. offers decent, affordable housing and quality behavioral health services that promote recovery from mental illness. For more information about donating to Fellowship Housing Opportunities, contact Kathy Michael at 603-225-1767 x 201 or

The mission of Warmth From the Millyard is to mobilize NH communities in clothing drives and other projects to demonstrate our collective power to address the needs of our neighbors through collaborative partnerships. Since 2007, they have helped the community collect over 24,000 items of warm clothing. WFMY is a collaborative partnership between UNH Manchester, the UNH Community Leadership program, and generous community partners like you. Reach us at 603-641-4360 or .

Want to help create a cold-weather stockpile for your favorite agency this summer?  Call or email Anna with the contact info above and she’ll get you started!  Do your neighbors a favor by helping rid them of space-absorbing, unwanted winter gear, and help your community out by passing it along to people who can make good use of it!  All that’s missing is you!