By Rachael Kemmey*
On the day of Casey’s fifth “angelversary,” a friend said to me, “I can’t believe it’s already been five years, can you?” My answer, although contradictory, was both yes and no. Yes, it is unfathomable that one thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven days have passed since the last time I saw my friend. How have five years already come and gone without her here? Yet, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime since I’ve seen Casey. Every day without her feels long. I was at a loss trying to explain how time could move both fast and slow; perhaps, there is no way to understand this feeling, unless you were blessed with knowing Casey.
Five is also the number of years that Casey’s family and friends have been working to make a difference through The Casey Feldman Foundation. The Foundation honors Casey’s life and memory by keeping Casey’s passion for helping others alive and by supporting many causes that were near and dear to Casey’s heart. One of those is her unconditional love for animals.
Growing up, Casey had numerous pets; everything from chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and horses, to fish, lizards, hermit crabs and turtles. Of course, there were also dogs and cats. The Feldman family always had one dog and usually four cats at a time, all rescues. Casey was a proud member of PETA, among various other organizations, and was a strong advocate for adoption of strays. While studying at Fordham University in New York City, Casey volunteered at Animal Haven, a no-kill shelter. Casey walked the dogs and simply spent time with them as well as with the cats, assisting in their socialization and making them feel comfortable and loved.
It is gratifying to look back over the last five years and see how The Casey Feldman Foundation, among its multitude of endeavors, has also sought to honor Casey’s love of animals.
Every year on Casey’s “angelversary,” the Foundation conducts a day of service; every day of service over the last five years has incorporated animals. On the first “angelversary,” approximately forty volunteers worked at Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, a no-kill shelter located in Radnor, Pennsylvania. The entire interior of the shelter was painted in the course of a day. The following year, volunteers returned to Francisvale and worked on building a new outdoor play area for the dogs, cleaning up the grounds and insulating the attic. The last three “angelversaries” were spent at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Foundation established the first Facility Dog Program in 2012. Joey, a Labrador Retriever and Ford, a Golden Retriever were sponsored by the Foundation. Ford and Joey are specially trained health and human services “professionals” who support patients in their therapy and facilitate the rehabilitation process (watch the TV news video below).
In addition to incorporating animals into the annual day of service, the Foundation also directly supports local shelters through grants. Most recently, the Foundation sponsored the Casey Feldman Foundation Spay and Neuter Day at Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR). As a result, five animals were neutered, a procedure which drastically cuts down on the number of animals euthanized in the United States each year. In addition, the Foundation also sponsored Helga at MLAR, a German Shepard who had spent the previous 5 years of her life in a hutch at a puppy mill and was in desperate need of medical care; she was a “spinner” as a result of her confinement and had tried to rip off her own tail. The Foundation’s grant saved Helga’s life. In order to help MLAR with their training program, the Foundation also donated funds for the “Casey Cam.” Since its installation, the camera has provided trainers with an opportunity to track each animal’s progress.
In addition, various scholarship programs that the Foundation has funded have benefited animals. Our 2012 PIIE recipient, Dylan Mark, interned for the summer at the Boulder Valley Humane Society. Computer science major Lauren McDermott from Villanova University received a stipend to provide much needed IT services to Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals, revamping and updating their website in 2011. Our Alternative Spring Break program has also impacted animals – Erica Durbin spent her spring break volunteering at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in 2011 and this past spring, Jennah Schein volunteered her week off working at Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in NC. Of course, all the various Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients who spent their week working in some form of environmental conservation all had a positive impact on wildlife.
In the upcoming years, the Foundation looks forward to continuing to honor Casey’s love of animals through supporting existing programs and establishing new ones.
Please help us to continue our good work and donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation. All of our furry friends out there will be deeply indebted for your your support.
Watch the CBS Philadelphia news video about the Foundation’s sponsorship of Magee’s first facility therapy dog, Ford, 2012:
View the video from the 2013 Day of Service:
All Foundation news articles related to our efforts to honor Casey’s love of animals – includes photos, videos, media coverage, links, etc.
*Rachael Kemmey grew up with Casey in Springfield, PA and remained one of Casey’s best friends. Rachael is currently an attorney practicing in Delaware County, PA.