On Sunday, May 20, 2018, The Betty J Martin L.I.F.E. House For Animals in Frankfort, Kentucky celebrated its 15th anniversary at the current facility on Fido Court. The name "L.I.F.E." stands for Let Important Friends Exist. However, May 2003 was not the actual beginning of the organization. It was founded more than two decades ago.
When I asked Betty Martin, one of the founders, (pictured at right speaking at the 15th anniversay), what inspired her to start this endeavor, her response was that it "began as a dream for founding board members C. Michael Davenport, Wendell Butler, and myself in 1997 when we saw a need in Frankfort to offer an alternative to our overcrowded humane society, which was being forced to choose euthanasia to control the overpopulation problem with the wonderful homeless dogs and cats in our community.
"As a private charitable organization, we knew that we wanted to be a "no kill" or limited access adoption center. During the years between 1997 and 2003, Mike Davenport networked tirelessly with community contractors to donate materials and labor to achieve the goal of opening our doors in 2003 with NO mortgage!"
After working 30 years at the Frankfort Pet Hospital, Martin retired from that position to become a full-time volunteer for L.I.F.E. House. She has worked countless hours in a "volunteer" position to save animals, which Martin calls "the guests," and the animals are certainly treated as special guests.
When asked what keeps her motivated to continue, she responded, "The joy that you get when you walk by each room/kennel/crate and look into the thankful eyes of each guest knowing that if L.I.F.E. House wasn't available, they most likely wouldn't be alive, is truly gratifying.
"Working with volunteers is an amazing experience as well. Meeting people who share a common bond of love for animals is wonderful. It is humbling to know that they are here donating their most valuable resources, their time and talents."
Because the organization is staffed by volunteers, Martin says it "allows us to utilize the majority of donations for the housing, feeding and medical care of our guests."
Martin said when the organization first started, its "short term goals were simply to save the lives of homeless dogs and cats and help place them in loving, forever homes." She went on to say that "it has become so much more than I ever dreamed. We network with many surrounding counties and have become involved in many community programs providing education to children and to established pet owners to improve the quality of life for many owned pets as well."
Throughout the years L.I.F.E. House has coordinated an amazing 3,277 pet adoptions involving their furry guests. These numbers don't tell the whole story, however. Martin says the organization also "match makes for animals in need but can't be accepted into L.I.F.E. House immediately by sharing pictures and contact information to aid their placement." Therefore, these numbers do not end up in the records yet numerous animals find a forever home with L.I.F.E. House's assistance without spending one night in the facility.
When asked where all these homeless animals come from, Martin said that many all "from local individuals who are facing life-changing situations and are comforted by having L.I.F.E. House to accept their beloved companion and place him or her in a safe, loving home.
"We also reach out to area "open-access" shelters that are overcrowded and reduce the number of wonderful animals that are being euthanized."
When I think about the literally thousands of animals that Martin and her group of volunteers have saved over the years, it never ceases to amaze me. This woman's vision of a better world for homeless, unwanted animals is not just something she talks about. She works and works and works at saving as many as she can.
If you can help in ANY way, please make an effort right now. The organization maintains a wish list that includes a wide range of needed items from laundry detergent, to cat litter and dog crates, to volunteers. You can view the list in its entirety on the L.I.F.E. House website.
If you'd like to volunteer, but don't think you have the time, Martin says just a couple hours a week is greatly appreciated. Because this organization is run solely by volunteers, the facility can be opened to the public only on a limited basis. However, this is a 24/7/365 operation when it comes to taking care of the animals. Therefore, for example, if you have two hours available on Thursdays, or all day Tuesday or an hour on the weekends, please contact L.I.F.E. House and become involved in this amazing organization. Concerning volunteers Martin said, "We ask that volunteers be committed to nurturing our guests, be respectful of visitors and other volunteers, and be dependable."
If you can't volunteer but want to make a monetary donation, you can do so online via PayPal. Remember you do not have to have a PayPal account to use that service. All major credit cards are accepted through the PayPal interface. Just be sure to start the donation process on the L.I.F.E. House website homepage. Of course, you can also mail a check to:
L.I.F.E. House for Animals
14 Fido Court
Frankfort, KY 40601
And remember your donations are tax-deductible.
When I asked Martin if there was anything in particular she would like our readers to know about the future of L.I.F.E. House. She answered, "There are still so many dogs and cats in need. We need more manpower to assist us in saving more lives. We want to continue to educate pet owners and future adopters on the health care of their pets and the need to spay and neuter. We would love to establish an annual children's summer camp and grow our Help Fund outreach."
Please help if you can.