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A need for feed


N.O.A.H. seeks assistance in filling barren shelves



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February 13, 2013 - Ortonville- As a disabled widow on an income of less than $750 per month, Dawn Boyd has struggled to feed her pets, which include a cat she's had for 17 years, and two cats she promised a dying neighbor she would care for.

On Tuesday, she found help she desperately needed on her first visit to North Oakland Animal Help, 457 Mill St., where N.O.A.H. founder Raena Kalfayan provided her with free cat food.

"Aren't they just heaven sent?" she asks. "This has really widened my heart. My niece made me aware (of N.O.A.H.) because she knew I needed assistance. I never dreamed there was a place that would help feed animals."

Kalfayan and her family went through their own struggle to keep their pets after her husband Mark was laid-off from his job in 2009. They vowed that when their situation improved, they would find a way to help others facing hard times. In December 2010, a few months after Mark found a new job, Raena started N.O.A.H. as a non-profit organization in the village, providing pet food assistance to low-income families.

Fundraisers and school penny drives for N.O.A.H. have assisted in purchasing food for the animals, but currently, the shelves of N.O.A.H. are bare. Kalfayan is seeking to get the word out about the need for not only donations, but volunteers to help with pet food distribution for a few hours per month. A volunteer open house is planned for 6 p.m., Feb. 26, at N.O.A.H., 457 Mill St.

There has been a definite need for N.O.A.H., with the organization currently assisting about 40 families per month in providing food for roughly 110-120 animals, mostly dogs and cats. However, donations have decreased, and Kalfayan has found that the uniqueness of the organization, as a food pantry for animals rather than an animal rescue, has been a hindrance to receiving help from large pet food companies.

"The large pet food companies help rescues and shelters, but they don't know how to categorize us," she explained. "I don't think they understand what we do, which is to try to help people keep their pets. We are completely reliant on donations of pet food, or cash donations with which to purchase food, from private individuals."

N.O.A.H. helps to feed animals of all ages, sizes and breeds and when pet food donations come in for special needs animals, such as puppies, kittens, or senior animals, Kalfayan sets that food aside for owners who have pets meeting those specifications. Clients are also asked to provide documentation of need.

"The majority of clients are very, very grateful," said Kalfayan. "They are humble and grateful for what they are getting and that's what keeps you going."

A letter from one client expressed that gratitude:

"N.O.A.H. is really a wonderful organization," wrote the client. "Our pets are our family and at times when we can't afford their food N.O.A.H. is always there for us as well as many other families, too. Thanks to their giving hearts, I don't have to worry about not having food for our pets when times are tough. I can't thank N.O.A.H. enough for being there when we need them the most."

For more information about this open house please call Raena Kalfayan at (248) 627-4900. For more details regarding N.O.A.H. visit www.helpfeedfido.com.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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