"BROOKLYN RUFF RIDERS" - Mobile Pet Food Bank
I am raising money to create a mobile pet food bank for Brooklyn pet owners in need. My project, "Brooklyn Ruff Riders," is outlined below. Once I raise enough money for the cargo bike, additional funds will go toward pet food and other pet supplies to distribute. Thanks for your support!
- I'm a New York City social worker and animal welfare advocate with an interest in community development and social justice. My community of Brooklyn is the most populous borough in New York City, home to 2,532,645 people and approximately 1,176,765 pets (dogs and cats).
- Poverty is a serious problem in Brooklyn. While some areas have pockets of extreme wealth, almost 25% of Brooklynites live in poverty. In areas like Brownsville (adjacent to my neighborhood of Bushwick), more than 38% of people live in poverty.
- Approximately 1.5 million New York City residents -- 1 in 4 of which are children -- live in households facing food insecurity; 251,960 of them are in Brooklyn.
- To make matters worse, many low-income neighborhoods don't have access to affordable pet care (veterinarians, training, pet supplies). Since 56% of Brooklynites don't have cars, these pet owners are trapped in "resource deserts" with little support for their pets. (Note: Below is a map I created; the areas with the highest needs are shown inside the black circles.)
- Living in a "resource desert" is especially hard for seniors or people with disabilities, for people with medium and large size dogs (which aren't allowed on public transportation), people with reactive or unsocialized dogs, or people with old or ailing dogs that can't walk long distances.
- Without resources in the community, pet owners also have trouble accessing reliable information about their pets' needs, including: health, nutrition, training, socialization, and pet owner responsibilities.
- To ease the burden facing low-income pet owners, I want to create a mobile pet food bank called "Brooklyn Ruff Riders" to deliver free pet food to under-served neighborhoods of Brooklyn (i.e., "resource deserts") through a team of trained volunteers.
- The idea for a mobile pet food bank is based on innovative food bank models for humans, including the Connecticut Food Bank and Food Bank of the Southern Tier (New York State).
- A mobile, delivery-based model reduces transportation barriers, increases engagement/relationship-building, and offers flexibility to accommodate schedules (for clients and volunteers). It also gives us an opportunity to meet the pet, too -- which would not be possible at traditional food banks.
- The most important benefit is that a mobile model will allow us to spend more time with the families AND the pets. As I've learned doing social work, this interaction is an opportunity to share information and connect people with resources they might not have known existed.
- We plan to use a combination of group and individual delivery methods. Sometimes we will host "Community Pet Days" in public locations to reach multiple people at once. Other times we will deliver food individually to people who can't attend the events, or people who would benefit from more extensive engagement. The mobile model gives us flexibility to do both.
WHAT WE NEED
- To deliver large amounts of food and supplies in an urban setting we need $2,280 to buy a "Haley Trike" that will serve as our mobile pet food bank -- which we will call "Brooklyn Ruff Riders." This includes the cost of the bike, the cargo trunk, and shipping from Philadelphia to Brooklyn.
- Why a Haley Trike? Because it's a cost-effective solution for navigating an urban environment while maximizing engagement with the local community.
- Thanks to an animal welfare friend, the owner of Haley Trikes offered to donate a portion of his services to our project! The Haley Trike we're hoping to build will have several custom features to accommodate our plans. We appreciate his generosity and his faith in our project!
- The Haley Trike (sample shown below) operates like a traditional bicycle, but has a trunk in the front that can haul up to 260 pounds of cargo, in addition to the rider. Haley Trikes are made in Philadelphia and are designed for urban settings...like Brooklyn!
- New York City has invested heavily in safe and convenient bike lanes, making this an ideal mode of transportation for urban dwellers. Thanks to resources offered by the public and private sectors, bike-riders can map out routes that utilize designated bike lanes, avoid high-traffic areas, and maximize safety.
- AAA estimates it costs more than $900 a month to own a car in Brooklyn, not including the time it takes to find parking -- or the hassle of having your car towed! The cost of maintaining a car would exceed the cost of buying a Haley Trike ($2,280) in only 3 months. We want the money to go to Brooklyn pets and pet owners, not car expenses!
- On a case-by-case basis when appropriate, the Haley Trike could enable us to offer pet transportation to nearby veterinarians, groomers, and spay/neuter clinics. The Haley Trike can also double as a booth at local events and fundraisers, providing additional opportunities to gain exposure and generate donations. And the cargo trunk doubles as a billboard: just imagine the marketing possibilities!
Thank You for Helping us Help Brooklyn Pet Owners in Need!
Thanks to some generous donors, I've located initial supplies of pet food to start sharing with my community. I'm asking for your support to buy a Haley Trike to make "Brooklyn Ruff Riders" a reality and maximize these resources.
While free pet food is not a long-term solution, it's an important start -- and for people struggling to make ends meet, it can be a lifesaver. My philosophy is to use this as an engagement tool to connect pet owners with resources and share information.
Thank you for believing in this project and helping us help Brooklyn pet owners in need!
Please check back for updates. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: I have filed paperwork to become a non-profit corporation in the State of New York. Once it is approved, I will file an application with the IRS for tax-exempt status (501c3).