By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta
Caldwell Mayor Ann Dassing, with Mary Linn Lombaro, founder of Only Kindness Rescue, as her co-chair, seeks volunteers to help with a 2016 fundraiser, What About Me?
What About Me? will provide for homeless animals and those trapped in domestic violence situations, in need of safe shelter.
Monies raised from the fundraiser will benefit three organizations: Seer Farms, a New Jersey sanctuary that provides temporary care for pets from homes of domestic violence. This way, victims do not have to give up their beloved pets – or leave them behind in a dangerous situation; a pet friendly NJ shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence so they could escape abuse and bring their pets with them; and Only Kindness Rescue which will help care for those pets that are left behind.
Dassing explained that according to Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” 65 percent of women in abusive relationships will delay leaving that situation because they don’t know what to do with their animal family member.
She said, “What I have learned from this, in Caldwell, in 2012, we had 77 reported incidents of domestic violence. It’s 66 percent of households across America that have pets that have been affected in part of that whole domestic violence situation. It’s important [the benefit] because pets are family and kids love their pets. We want to keep everyone together if we can.”
Lombaro’s non-profit Only Kindness Rescue was founded 12 years ago.
She said, “We mainly do animal rescue from dog fights. Cats are being abandoned due to foreclosures; it’s a whole other story in itself.”
What About Me? is set to be held on Thurs., Oct. 20, at The Cucina Calandra Ballroom at the Fairfield Executive Inn in Fairfield. Tickets are $50 each.
The benefit will feature wine tastings from around the world, provided by Verona Wine Cellar, as well as craft beers.
Dassing said, “Mister Callandra and his family have donated an appetizer buffet. The whole place is wonderful. We’re planning on having a silent auction with one-of-a-kind items people can bid on.”
Lombaro added, “We’re planning on making sure there are some vegetarian and vegan options for food.”
Maria Milito, Q104.3 NY DJ will be acting as mistress of ceremonies. “She’s a big animal advocate,” said Dassing. “We’re very excited about that.”
Originally the event was going to be small, targeting raising money for homeless animals, but with Dassing as mayor, Lombaro figured she could make a bigger impact.
Lombaro said, “There’s a lot of animal rescue fundraisers. We could go small, or we could go big and bring in more opportunities for victims of domestic violence.”
The pair met several years ago when they were able to re-home a dog as part of an emergency divorce situation. Lombaro hopes that mayors from other towns follow Dassing’s actions and start their own animal rights fundraisers.
Dassing said, “I’m honored to be part of this event.”
Those who would like to volunteer will be asked to solicit sponsorships and advertisements for the evening’s ad journal, encourage their friends and family to attend the event, and help with the planning and activities associated with the evening’s festivities.
If you are interested in getting involved, or would like more information, contact Mayor Dassing at 973-403-4636 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org