An Angel and a Promise

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Art: Sweet Angel Cat, Ryan Conners

Yesterday we shared a story about the new Thrift and Gift Shop that recently opened in a New Orleans suburb. Here’s a little bit about how it came to be and the magical synchronicity of the perfect people appearing just when we need them most.

After losing her home in the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, Lynn Chiche opened a cat sanctuary in nearby Metairie, LA.  This would become the new home for Katrina kitties, as well feline victims of cruelty.  Most have since left the sanctuary, but the ones remaining are primarily senior cats.

Chiche knew she had a higher calling and, yesterday, opened the doors to Spaymart’s Thrift and Gift Shop. Not only is all money raised from the shop funneled directly to Spaymart’s spay/neuter programs, within the shop is  the Linda Graf Second Chance Adoption Center.  The adoption center will feature senior cats and offer incredible incentives to human senior citizens who’d like to adopt.

You might wonder about the name of the adoption center.  It stems from an example of the power of the Internet bringing people together to create a relationship of hope, encouragement, and true inspiration.  And that’s exactly what happened with Chiche and Linda Graf.

Graf was a brilliant writer and shared her gifts creating the bios for the adoptable cats at Spaymart. “She could make a cat sound like the most unique creature on the planet, and that cat would end up getting adopted,” Chiche says.

In addition to lending her time and talents to Spaymart, she also became a trusted friend to Chiche.  When Chiche felt overwhelmed or exhausted with the sanctuary or the prospect of the new store, Graf was there to lift her up and remind her of the important work she was doing.

Early this year Graf called Chiche to tell her she had fallen ill and would need to take some time off from writing the cat bios.  Later, she communicated the devastating news that she had cancer and it was spreading quickly.  “She said, ‘I want you to know I cannot die until you promise you will come and pick up my three cats,'” Chiche says. “Of course, I told her I would.”

Chiche and Lauree Nunez, program coordinator for Spaymart’s kitten foster program, hoped to meet Graf before she died and quickly planned a trip to Phoenix.  Graf died just three days after Chiche made her promise.

Graf and Nunez proceeded with their trip to pick up Graf’s cats. “The two 14-year-olds weighed 15 or 16 pounds apiece, and the 6-year-old, a Katrina rescue, was wild,” Chiche says.  It was quite a wild ride. They had to hold the cats in their arms through security as well as keep track of three cat carriers and their other carry on items. Just when they thought it couldn’t get any hairier, the flight had to land for a medical emergency, and they missed their connecting flight. “We didn’t get home until 1:30 in the morning,” Chiche says.

The two 14-year-olds, Danny and Velvet, have moved in with Chiche and her husband, and the 6-year-old, Trixie, will be available for adoption. “Linda donated $5,000 to the adoption center and gave us so much support we named it in her memory,” Chiche says. “She was just a wonderful lady,” Chiche went on to say. “I know how people can fall in love over the Internet, because I fell in love with her.”

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