• Gianna

#18 "FEAR: a reason, not an excuse"

I reach out to a lot of people for this project. Some reply and some do not. This blog is about someone who did more than just say yes or no. Her name is Julie Castle, and she is the CEO of the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends is helping to end the killing in America’s Animal shelters by building programs and partnerships all across the nation. Julie’s response was so cool because attached there was a plane ticket. She said YES, invited me to do our interview in person all the way in Kanab, Utah, and visit the animal sanctuary. My Mom and I left for our trip on Monday morning and spent a couple days at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. It is a place where pictures cannot do the scenery justice, and where words cannot do the people justice. This sanctuary is thousands of acres of beautiful land that is a safe haven for thousands of animals.

Even as a sixteen-year-old, Julie knew who she was. Everyone knows the high school nightmare of walking into the lunchroom trying to find your place to sit. Julie was the girl who walked in, looked for the kid sitting alone, and sat down right beside them. It did not matter what everyone else thought. If Julie knew she could help someone, she was going to do it. Skip ahead a few years, and she didn’t change. Right before starting law school, Julie and a few friends took a spontaneous trip to Mexico. On the way home, they stopped at a small town in Utah to visit the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary. Julie drove in and immediately felt it was where she belonged. After meeting the founders and learning that America had been killing animals in shelters for 150 years, Julie made a choice. She called her Dad and told him she was no longer going to be a lawyer. Everyone thought she was crazy, but Julie knew the animals needed help and that she could help. She became Best Friends 17th employee. They now have hundreds… and Julie is now the CEO. 

So, what can we learn from Julie? She mentioned to me that every day we should try to do something that scares us. She does, and she always has. From sitting beside that kid in the lunchroom to calling her Dad and telling him she was no longer going to law school, Julie listens to her heart and runs with it. We can be like her and begin using fear as a reason rather than an excuse.

There is something else that we can learn from Julie. We can learn kindness will always win. If a group of people come together with a vision of doing something good, nothing will stop them. I think Best Friends Animal Society in the perfect example of this. A group of people came together to create a sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals with no plan but to save them all. They founded Best Friends in 1984, and at the time, 17 million animals died every year in the nation’s shelters. Now, that number is down to around 733,000. They believe that number will be down to 0 by 2025.

Julie- thank you for that plane ticket but thank you more for being the person you are. I know you change lives for animals every day, but you surely changed mine this week.

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