It goes without saying that tonight’s visit to the Wildlife Waystation made an indelible impression on me. It was an experience that was so raw, so real; the atmosphere filled with a kind of love that was almost tangible. The impact that these animals have on us and our connectedness to them is unquestionable. With only a couple of feet separating you from presences so powerful, you can’t help but see the stories behind their eyes. Authentically present and heart-breakingly vulnerable, they stare back at you through the chain-linked fence, their souls so pure, so honest, so exposed yet so trusting of their surroundings. Unwilling and unable to avert their gaze, you can practically feel their breath on your face. Each of these animals has its own unique story, but all have found themselves with a second chance at life here at the Waystation. Martine Colette took in her first animal in 1965, inevitably leading to the inception of the Wildlife Waystation in 1976. Over the years, she has rescued and rehabilitated thousands of exotic animals. With boundless compassion, she currently houses over 400 animals, yet she has somehow found a way to love each one individually; naming all of them, hand-feeding some. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find her walking her favorite tiger, Montana, around the property between snacks. She has made it her mission to give these animals the lives they deserve: a protected existence, an opportunity to mature and flourish, with constant stimulation, entertainment, and most importantly, love. In the past, the Waystation relied on private donors for financial support, but in recent years, as the economy worsened, the donations got smaller and smaller. Even with the entire staff working on a volunteer basis, there is no longer enough money to keep the facility in operation. Although devastating to think about, acknowledging the reality of the situation is the only way we can rise up and save the Waystation. We need to be exposed to a kind of truth that is impossible to turn away from; a truth that finds living, breathing beings with the purest of souls facing an untimely and unfair end. Plainly stated, without the funds, these animals will be put down. The Waystation is their home. There is nowhere else for them to go. We are their only hope and we cannot let them down. So now I’ll ask you, will you stand with me and help give these amazing animals the chance they deserve? Can you give up your Starbucks for one day? Are you willing to, just once, forego that fancy dinner at your favorite restaurant? No amount is too small, every dollar makes a difference. I truly hope you’ll consider making this difference with me.