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I’ve always loved animals – it’s why I became a vegan in the first place. Being an activist for that cause was only natural. It’s crazy that I had to go all the way to Brindleton Bay to get access to a vet that could treat Shiloh given the number of dog and cat owners that live here. It’s also crazy the number of veterinary school graduates in our town who end up migrating in order to find work. As soon as I got home from the hospital and fed Shiloh her medicine, I got to work.

I wanted to build an animal shelter. The number of stray animals in our town is growing exponentially and a lot of them get sick due to poor diet, poor hygiene and exposure to the elements. The city’s way of dealing with them is rounding them all up to be euthanized but that’s just sick and it’s not their fault their owners abandoned them and forced them to live on the streets. They deserve to have a safe, warm place to stay until they can get a good home. I also wanted to build a vet clinic so pet owners can keep their furry friends safe from illnesses like the one Shiloh had. How did no one ever think about this before me?

Well, in doing my research I realised I wasn’t the only one who had this idea.

I met Abike Inoluwa a couple of times through Hunter. They had been dating for over a year and I knew she did a lot of charity work. Hunter told me she once helped a friend raise money to pay for her cat’s operation. She also worked as a Community Outreach Coordinator for the No Sim Left Behind Foundation.

Hunter was so in love with her. It was cute seeing him gush and fumble over a girl when he’s usually so straight-laced and serious all the time. Unlike Cohen, Hunter had a good head on his shoulders so I knew any girl he’d pick would be someone who had good character.

She was definitely a sweetheart who had a natural love for animals just like I did, with a soft spot for dogs too. Even Shiloh took to her right away and she never warmed to strangers so quickly.

I only wanted advice on where to begin. I knew she worked for an NGO so I figured she could give me some tips. Instead, she got really excited about my idea because apparently she thought about branching out and doing something similar.

So within an fifteen minute conversation, she and I decided we would be partners. I was surprised by how fast I was willing to partner with someone I barely knew but Hunter vouched for her and I knew him all my life so I trusted him. Plus I had a good feeling about her.

She certainly knew more than I did about this stuff. She had a lot of information and she even had a list of potential donors.

“How did you come up with this list so fast?” I asked her during our very first meeting in my unofficial office…which was also the dining room.

“They’re NSLB’s biggest donors and they’re all animal owners so I know this cause will peak their interests. I can start making calls as soon as we complete the registration of our charity.” The hint of a foreign accent in her voice made her sound so confident, almost regal. I could listen to her speak for hours which made her all the more perfect for this job since getting people to listen to you is vital. “We should also set up social media, websites…”

“Should you be giving me this information?” I interrupted once I scanned through the list she gave me and realised it was a pretty long list of some easily recognizable names. “I mean, won’t you get in trouble at work for this?”

“Oh, I’m not working there anymore. I quit my job the morning after you asked me to partner with you.”

I blinked. “Wait…what?”

“Uh-huh.” She grinned so calmly.

“Why would you do something like that?” I wouldn’t quit my job for something so uncertain. We were only getting started.

“Because I believe in this cause, obviously.” She chuckled lightly.

I felt my stomach drop. “You quit your job so you can do this…with me?”

She nodded.

“But…you barely know me Abike and…” What if I couldn’t do this? What if I fail at this too?

“Hunter says if anyone can start a cause and rally the community then it’s you. I really want to work with someone the passion and drive equatable to my own.” She declared. “Where I worked before, all we did was collect money and then pass it along to smaller charities. By the time it gets to the people that really need it, it’s not enough to make any kind of difference. You proposed something different. You want to put the money we raise directly into the shelter and hospital. We will actually contribute in a real way and I’m really excited about that.”

If we can raise enough money…”

“We will. We just have to assemble our team and get those donations and then the real fun starts.” She was so charismatic in a way that was so genuine. She’d be great at this. I wasn’t so sure about me.

“Your list is a great start. I also know a few people who can be donors too.” It was one of the perks of coming from a rich family and also having a few friends who came from money as well. “I was also thinking about buying the old vet clinic in town. It’s for sale now and we can renovate it. That way we don’t have to start from scratch building a new one.”

“That sounds great! Once we get enough money for a deposit, we can look into getting a loan from the bank and then…”

“I mean, I can buy it, with my own money.” I said sheepishly. “I kinda already made an offer.”

Her eyes widened in shock. I hoped she wouldn’t think I was showing off or anything but then her face relaxed into an excitable grin. “I knew I did a good thing betting on you, Olive.”

I guess she wasn’t as confident about this as I thought. She had doubts too about whether or not she was making a mistake by quitting her job to do this with me. It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one second guessing myself.

But Abike was right. We could do this. I can do this.

The next step was assembling the rest of our team because we simply couldn’t manage a charity and take on projects of that magnitude with just the two of us. And I knew two of the best people for the job.

Steve and Kyleigh said yes right away, even before I completed my sales pitch.

“I have so many ideas already, Olive!” Kyleigh beamed, rapidly swiping her fingers across her tablet as she took notes. “O-M-G, this is just the thing I wanted to do.  I can totally put together a sweet website! I can be in charge of, like, social media marketing or something?”

“Can I oversee the renovations?” Steve asked. “I know a number of good contractors and plumbers that we can put on the job. I’m also good with my hands myself…”

“Of course, yes. I’m down for all of that.” I grinned, happy to see their enthusiasm. “But right now, before we do anything else, we need to settle on a name so we can get started on registering our charity.”

I already made an offer on the property, rented out office space for us to work from, and we still didn’t have a name for our organization. Mom would kill me when she finds out the amount of money I took out of our accounts so far. Then again, the hefty tax break we’ll get from putting that money into a charity should assuage her concerns.

“How about…Animal Welfare Org?” Kyleigh suggested.

“Ohh, what about like…Paw Patrol?” Steve offered. “You know, cause cats and dogs have paws and we’ll be looking after them like a patrol?”

“Honey, that’s a kids’ show!” Kyleigh giggled. “We can’t use that.”

“It is?” He frowned. “Hm…no wonder it sounded like a good idea.”

I couldn’t NOT notice that ‘honey’ remark. I so badly wanted to ask about it but this was their first time meeting Abike and we were in the middle of brainstorming so it would have to wait.

“I like the way you think, Steve,” Abike giggled. “But Olive and I were thinking we shouldn’t limit our charity work to just helping animals and a name like that will limit us.”

“She’s right.” I agreed. “The clinic and shelter will be the first projects but our goal is to continue to give back to the community in any way as the need arises.”

“Why not simply call it The Sloane Foundation or something like that?” Kyleigh suggested.

“I…uh…doesn’t that seem a little conceited to start a charity and name it after myself?” The idea did cross my mind but I was worried about coming across as self-centered. Especially since the the four of us were gonna be the founders of this charity and therefore equal partners and I didn’t want to make this all about me.

“No, not at all actually. A lot of people do it all the time.” Abike said. “Besides, your family has history is this town – it’ll be good business to do that. I’m sure your family name opens up all sorts of doors for you as it is. Why not use some of that influence for this?”

Maybe Abike was right. It’ll make it a lot easier to get donors if I attached my last name to this. “Okay, The Sloane Foundation it is.”

Perhaps putting my name on this officially will keep me motivated to keep it going no matter what. I’d always wanted to help people and do some good for the community. For the first time, I finally felt like I was taking the first step towards achieving that goal.

I felt like I had a real purpose, and that felt really good!

 

Special thanks to SimTroverted for creating Abike Inoluwa for me. We’ll learn more about her interesting back story in later chapters.

Olive and her team have officially started their Sloane Foundation “club”. Others will join later but for now these are the core members of the team. The club system from Get Together came in handy for this, though I wish ‘collect donations’ was an option for a club activity cause that would be perfect! 😀

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