ó Liz Hendley has $17 left after paying all of her
bills each month.
barely enough for a weekís worth of groceries for
herself, much less for her two dogs, Shadow and Chichi.
it wasnít for Marianne, I couldnít keep up with
them," the 79-year-old woman said.
Iaquinto is the founder of Samís Hope, a nonprofit
that donates pet food, treats, toys, anything a pet
would need, to low-income people in Philadelphia and
the last 19 months, Samís Hope, named in memory of a
dog Iaquinto used to have, has distributed more than
67,000 pounds of pet food through a combination of home
deliveries and partnerships with food pantries and
nonprofits that assist seniors. It also has partnered
with local veterinarians to provide free checkups and
other medical services.
group, which works out of a storage facility in a suburb
of Philadelphia, depends on a mix of donations and
grants to help Hendley and other people on a tight
budget. Its aim is not to replace all of a pet ownerís
expenses, but to supplement them, Iaquinto said.
wasnít always difficult for Hendley to keep her dogs
five years ago, when she was working as a caretaker for
a child with ADHD and receiving a regular paycheck, it
was fairly easy for her to keep Shadow, her 8-year-old
black Labrador, in biscuits and kibble.
after she stopped working four or five years ago and
started to live exclusively on Social Security and food
stamps, she found it difficult to keep up. On top of
that, Shadow developed health problems. Hendley needs to
buy food designed for overweight dogs, which is usually
more expensive. Shadow also requires expensive trips to
was already feeling pinched when Chichi, a 2-year-old
terrier, joined her family.
since Samís Hope stepped in a year ago, Hendleyís
dogs have been eating well. In fact, she has a
sweatshirt that reads: "My dog eats better than
it wasnít for Marianne, Iíd be up a creek without a
paddle," Hendley said.
ó a 57-year-old former vice president of a company
that provides child identification and safety education
programs ó was moved to establish Samís Hope after
learning of the rising number of pet surrenders
beginning with the recession of 2008. She developed a
simple goal: keeping animals out of shelters.
February 2013, she had incorporated Samís Hope as a
nonprofit dedicated to helping the poor keep their pets.
months later, she was in business. After juggling Samís
Hope and her official job for a few months, she left her
full-time position as vice president to focus on Samís
Hope. All of her time to Samís Hope ó about 50 hours
a week ó is donated.
her efforts include collecting donations, running food
deliveries to homebound seniors, and helping provide
veterinary care for ailing dogs and cats.
measures the programís success by the number of pets
of this year, Samís Hope has made food available to
more than 3,000 pets, and has provided veterinary
services to 52 pets.
newest program, delivering pet food to homebound
seniors, feeds 50 pets. Iaquinto hopes to expand that
number to 250 by the end of the year.
group operates on a yearly budget of $65,000 and a group
of 10 volunteers who use their own vehicles. For bigger
deliveries, Iaquinto gets help from U-Haul and Nonstop
of the owners of modest means, Iaquinto said, would
rather cut from their own budgets than give up their
pets to the shelter.
they canít provide food for their animal, theyíd be
forced to give them away," said April McKnight of
Jesus Focus Ministry Food outside the city. Her
organization is one of the agencies that delivers pet
food for Samís Hope.
the pets are also the only companions people have.
Garcia, who received vet care for her cat, Palomo,
through Samís Hope, said that the group was a
all by myself. Iím 60 and I donít have any family.
My family is my cats," Garcia said.