40-Caliber Way of Life--Animal Rescue in Central Appalachia

2년 전
in tarc

Operating an animal rescue in Central Appalachia has been thankless, tireless work, often brutal. Believe me when I say the community doesn’t want us here, any more than they want other charitable outreaches that require an effort of change. Our message to spay and neuter to reduce the number of unwanted pets has not been well received. Neither has our assertion that the community itself has a responsibility in preventing widespread social decay. The animal issues here are just a symptom. The problem itself is far, far greater.

McDowell County, West Virginia, was the location of the first food stamp dispersal to residents in 1961, a project spearheaded by President John F. Kennedy. Again in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson targeted this community for trial implementation of welfare initiatives like Medicare, Medicaid, free school lunches, and similar programs. You can read more about this in a 2014 article by Tessa Rath, published by Discovery Institute:

https://www.discovery.org/econ/2014/04/22/the_reign_of_poverty_in_mcdowell_county/

From my perspective living and operating a 501c3 nonprofit only a stone’s throw from the McDowell County line, it doesn’t seem that these welfare programs were at all successful. Instead, it’s possible that they’ve helped create a “community with its hand stretched out,” a subculture of Americans with a strong sense of entitlement to “free” services and products, and an equally strong sense of outrage when asked to contribute themselves to community improvement. Welfare mentality is no respector of lines on a map, either. This type of backward thinking infects all communities here in Central Appalachia and is passed down from generation to generation like bad DNA. By the time a child reaches high school, education begins to seem pointless when the goal is to qualify for a monthly social security check and expect the government to subsidize every basic need.

A quote from the article linked above:

Fourty-six percent of children in the county don’t live with a biological parent. The death rate from drug overdose is over eight times the national average. The incarceration rate is among the highest in the U.S. In the 1950’s, 100,000 people called McDowell County home. In 2014, that number has plummeted to 21,300, and the county is populated only by those who can’t leave due to lack of education or skills, or have family connections that keep them rooted in the area. With the disappearance of coal mining jobs, many families now rely on Social Security, food stamps, and disability payments. Dependence on government money has become “a way of life, passed from generation to generation.” Fewer than one out of three participates in the labor force (works, or is looking for work)–a figure that compares poorly to the national labor participation rate of 63.2% (as of March 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Have a look at the following screenshots of actual Facebook comments that appeared on a recent TARC post. Below those screenshots is an image of Topix comments from a few years ago when Virginia Baseball Hall of Famer Billy Wagner attempted to promote a sustainable education option for local children. A fierce, well-practiced mob mentality reflects a dim view of charity work if it requires participation from those it purports to help. Echoes of the same mentality are ever-present in the social media attack launched against my rescue and myself personally.

Now read another excerpt from the same NYT article as I quoted before:

McDowell County is aware of their detachment from the rest of the country, and places a large importance on staying loyal to “us,” as opposed to “them.” Fifteen-year-old Emalee sees the possibility of pursuing a college education in her future, but her family doesn’t want her to go. Says Florisha McGuire of leaving her small West Virginian town to attend college: “you’d think I’d committed a crime.”

I’m being treated as if I committed a crime for asking the community to help build an adoption center and public dog park to save and improve the lives of thousands of animals this community throws away every year. I'm being treated as if I committed a crime for telling a woman seeking help with puppies rejected by her female dog that a simple spay would prevent such things from happening. I advised her to seek the advice of her veterinarian, because we are currently unable to help. Apparently I was supposed to drop everything and rush to this woman’s aid, bail her out at no cost to her, and “save them puppies” whether we have the resources to do so or not. My refusal to oblige means, in Appalachia-speak, that TARC is not a “real rescue” and I am a fraud using donated funds to renovate my home and take vacations to the beach, and that anyone affiliated with us is a narcissist and doesn't care about other people in the community. But I'm in good company, since based on the Topix post, Tazewell County treated Billy Wagner exactly the same way despite the 1.9 million dollars of his own money he invested in the future of this community's children.

Several people posted statements on our GoFundMe campaign that are patently libelous and we’ve received no further donations since. TARC has definitely suffered punitive damages because of the attitudes and behaviors of Appalachian locals on social media. Enough to shut us down? Hardly. We weren’t receiving local support before. All our help comes from out of the region or from blockchain communities.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-celebrate-5-years-of-rescue-with-a-gift

Still, it’s a harrowing thing to be located in the midst of so much hostility and violence. Sometimes the headlines of our local papers read like headlines from the cartel cities of Mexico: “Ambush! Two Police Officers Dead.” That one was from eight years ago, but appeared this week as a "flashback article" beside the headline: "Two Shot, One Dead."

In the same paper, a few pages over:

And then, of course, there's this:

Ignorance As a Way of Life

An alarming number of people seem married to their ignorance and backward thinking and mount great defenses against new ideas and change. Sadly, it’s this very ignorance that has come to define our region. People aren't interested in the truth. J&J News, a local Facebook tabloid reporting service, has yet to approach me for information about the actual work we do. They were more than happy to "report" that I was "rude" to the woman with the puppies, however, and were quite permissive when it came to allowing the community to post libelous comments about TARC and about me. When this becomes the public-facing image of a region--willingly uneducated and deliberately uninformed--it only serves to underscore the stereotypes that cause such great offense.

In what universe would anyone believe that running a private rescue is a paying job? I've invested more than twelve thousand dollars of my own money over the years trying to save the animals Southwest Virginia throws away like trash. I've lived without heat, a flushing toilet, and a decent vehicle for five years just so I could keep the rescue viable. I've done the work no one else here has been willing to do, and made the difference no one else here has been willing to make. But it has been at great personal cost and sacrifice. The more people accuse me of using these animals for financial gain, the more hope I lose for the region. It takes a special kind of stupid to not understand the toll that working in rescue takes on a person.

So what’s to do about this--the accusations and the hostility and the mob mentality? The same thing everyone else has done who tried to make life better for future generations in Central Appalachia—turn tail and run? No, that’s not me. I have a different plan, and it's a doozy.

Being a seasoned writer with connections gives me a powerful advantage: I can paint word pictures of this culture in printed form that will—and already has—gotten the world’s attention. Southwest Virginia has never confronted the reality of having a writer hidden in their midst for a decade taking notes, a writer who isn’t frightened away by the threats and posturing but instead sees a thousand ways to use the local drama to tell her story. Out of my experience has come High Kill, a novel already getting industry attention through the distribution of advance review copies. Steemhouse Publishing is not yet releasing the names of those who received ARCs, (Advance Review Copies, not to be confused with Animal Rescue Coalition) but let me assure you they are names most people around the world will recognize.


photo by Michel Quievreux

In the meanwhile, TARC is suffering from lack of donations and local support and hopes the blockchain community can help us yet again. We take donations of Steem, SBD, and FIAT via Paypal transfer. (rescue@tazewellarc.org) Here is an opportunity to make a powerful statement about the power of Steem and its unshakable communities. Please note that donations to TARC are tax deductible in the U.S. since we have an IRS nonprofit 501c3 designation.

Also note that authorities and animal control officials in our community do not subscribe to the mob mentality described above and visit our facility frequently on routine business. We enjoy a great relationship with them because they know the truth about our business practices and have seen our work firsthand. In Tazewell County, ACOs are fully empowered sheriff’s deputies and some of them have more professional animal welfare training than most ACOs in the state. So believe me when I say this: if TARC were operating under shady or fraudulent circumstances, we would have been “found out” long ago, charged with crimes, and shut down permanently. As it stands, we have not received a single citation for improper care or any crime whatsoever, and these ACOs have been inside our facility as recently as this week. I am always happy to see them stop by.

Our sabotaged GoFundMe fundraiser was for $5,000. We did receive some pledges from out of state that bring the need down by more than half. Immediately, we owe a $500 vet bill for a dog whose face was avulsed from his skull (see this article) and we also need funding to take four difficult dogs to new hope and new homes in New Hampshire. The rescue there is the only one who will accept them, since all four have troubled pasts. Please consider giving and giving hard to help us make it through this unpleasant part of the journey. Better days are coming. We just have to hang on long enough for the sun to rise on them.

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Something everyone who shops on Amazon should know is that if you put smile. (smile dot) in front of any amazon.com/... URL, Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchase price to the charity of your choice. Tazewell County Animal Rescue Coalition is one of the charities listed there.

Also as an aside, @rhondak: @tarc has suffered actual damages. In legal terms, punitive damages are something a judge or jury awards on top of actual damages, usually as a deterrent to future civil violations. If you haven't done so already, I can't overstate the value a good lawyer can provide you in this matter. Even though I realize most of the residents of that area don't have anything with which to compensate you for damages, most private attorneys are required to take a certain number of pro bono cases each year, and if nothing else it wouldn't be too hard (given the evidence I've seen at least) to get a court to order these people to cease and desist.

It's comically tragic that these people have nothing better to do with their time than troll an animal rescue. And it's simple child psychology why they would blame you for suggesting they spay and neuter their pets rather than save them from their own irresponsible behavior.

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Thank you so much for this comment, @miryam. And you are right on all counts. We are indeed listed with Amazon Smile. :-) That's a really fantastic charitable giving option offered by Amazon that has been a great source of extra income for the rescue.

As far as damages, yeah...you nailed that, too. Recovering compensation for the damages would indeed be the problem. The majority of people trolling with those comments don't have a pot to piss in. We're not talking about mensa IQs here. These are hardscrabble, hard luck ne'er-do-wells who'll eventually malinger their way onto a disability check and live on the take for the rest of their lives. Social media has given them a megaphone, but instead of using truth to improve the world, they run around quarreling about the rumor mill. Ah, well. Whatever makes them happy, I guess.

I wish I had the money or upvote to help properly, but we’re going through an almost the same thing. Ie, we discovered our local government body is embezzling money and they’re throwing everything they can after us. (In Canada we have the Canadian Human Rights Commission, who’s now investigating)

Posted using Partiko iOS

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Ooooh, Andy...that's awful.

Well, you could always toss us an illustration or two. I miss your comics. They are top shelf. I go back quite often and look at the collection we have of them online, and laugh til I cry. Nobody can sum a thing up like you.

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I definitely want to, and I miss hanging out with the group. I’m involved with three trials, one of them they’re monitoring everything I post. My lawyers prepping a charter of rights and freedoms challenge (it’s what we have in Canada to protect people in Canada from government abuse). But until that’s done I’m Leary.

This is basically what’s happening.

https://aptnnews.ca/2017/04/24/aptn-opens-the-books-on-peters-reserve-finds-questionable-payments-inacs-role-in-question/

Posted using Partiko iOS

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Oh my gosh, Andy...

Well, I understand your caution. Still, though, you can come hang out with us any time. Just lurk if you want. You're super good at that. LOLOL


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Please dearest, don’t give up! Our dying world need saviors, animals and other creatures are looking upon the good guys like you!

Thanks @tarc for bringing healing to our wounded world through some rescues!

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A look at your wallet makes the accusations seem accurate. I bet you're about to announce a tour for your self-published book.

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What did you see in our Steem wallet that makes the accusations seem accurate? Which transactions specifically? Are you referring to donated funds being transferred off the blockchain and converted to FIAT so we can spend them on the things the donors want them spent on? Because the thing is, if you intend to level complaints like that one, you need more than generalization, or you just seem like a troll.

And I would imagine Steemhouse Publishing might have something to say about the "self-published" bit. But then you know about Steemhouse, because you troll that page, too.

Oh, and Steemhouse already announced the bookstore tour. Apparently you don't actually read the posts you troll.

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These are concerning. Since most transfers go offchain to a joint rhondak account on Bittrex or through blocktrades, I'm certain that you're keeping them separated. Plus the sad conditions you present don't seem like they'd lend themselves to very many cross country and other side of the world trips as often as you seem to take. I'm sure you would not consider yourself self-published. If you ask a scammer if they are a scammer, they will say no.

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Here's a confirmed lie.

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A confirmed lie? I'm sorry. I fail to see anything untruthful about anything stated in that comment.

As an author, I sell books. I receive a regular direct deposit into my FIAT bank account from Amazon from sales of my two novels currently in print. We are also launching pre-orders for "High Kill" within the next week, which will be used to fund extensive travel for book promotion. Again, I fail to see anything questionable about this practice.

@ro-witness, would you care to step in and explain my ticket to Steemfest? @sircork (noblewitness,) would you care to explain my funding for the travel? Actually, no--that isn't really necessary. It just seems preposterous to not consider that other, independent sources of funding and ticket acquisition played a role in travel that was completely unrelated to the rescue. Does being the Director of a 501c3 really mean that no other affiliations and cash flow streams are allowed? It is quite a leap of ignorance for anyone to assume that just because someone runs a 501c3 organization and participates in other activities, that they are stealing money from donors to fund unrelated activities.

As for your complaint about the transfers, firstly it's important to recognize that the only way to convert cryptocurrency donations so they can be used in "real world" transactions is for the account manager to actually transfer them. In our case, many times TARC monies were combined with personal post payouts and lumped together into one larger sum to transfer out through Blocktrades or Bittrex. There is not a single shady thing about this internal practice of avoiding double transaction fees. The inference made here is actually an inverse of reality. Rather than using TARC monies for personal reasons, personal monies are being invested in TARC and spent on the animals.

In regard to TARC transports, there will be no indication anywhere on the blockchain about where funding for those comes from. There are two types of donations to a charity organization: discretionary and non-discretionary. I'm not going to waste my time defining those terms or explaining why their definitions matter. It's information easily discoverable with a simple Google search.

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LOL, no, I'm not going to explain our business, but pay me back someday when it's convenient. :)

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Will do, kind sir.

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Your books are close to averaging #1,000,000 in popularity on amazon. You are not making a living off of those three dollar sales once every two months. Stop with the lies about personal monies.

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So the transfer from tarc to your publishing house that you own to self publish was used for the charity, is that your assertion? The transfer to gmux was for your animals as well? Perhaps it was the transfer to rhondak then immediately to michelios that was for charity. The only thing a sane person can conclude is that you are using charity begging to pay for personal projects and not for the animals.

The blockchain also shows that you have been funded by loans from neoxian and also eturnerx. That is how you are funding your trips and self publishing project. But since you have only 2 books with any (heavy quote) sales, and we have seen you have no issues sending tarc funds to other accounts, it is safe to assume that much of that money is going to pay off those loans.

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Ah, but does the blockchain show what all of these loans have been used to fund? It's interesting that you think you have things figured out, when in truth you're just fumbling around trying to make puzzle pieces fit when you have most of them flipped completely upside down.

I've wasted a ton of time on you already, with your bizarre accusations. But not as much time as you seem to have wasted on me. EVERY dime that passes through my hands on this blockchain goes to the rescue. It's how I've been keeping it funded. People have loaned and loaned and loaned money to me trying to help keep these dogs fed and vetted, and others have loaned money to get Steemhouse launched so it can generate income not only for me to use however I wish (mostly on the rescue) but for others to earn as well.

I don't think you appreciate how desperate the situation is with this nonprofit. Not receiving adequate funding means living creatures will suffer, which is the opposite of rescue and I can't allow that. I have to keep them fed and vetted at all costs, even if that means borrowing money from everyone I know to make it happen. Repaying that money from the TARC account is not at all inappropriate. Neoxian has funded emergency veterinary surgeries, electricity to the rescue to keep the dogs from freezing on cold winter nights when I was so far behind that I'd received a disconnection notice, and plumbing supplies to repair waterlines that froze and burst in the basement of the facility. Yet you infer that somehow this is misappropriation of funds?

I also think it's funny that you believe you can extrapolate income data from Amazon by looking at book rankings. I'm to the point of just sitting here scratching my head, wondering why you think your calculations are even close to being accurate. I'm also to the point of realizing your accusations aren't worth defending TARC against, because the bluff and bluster may fool some people, but for anyone with knowledge of how book retail actually works, it's clear you're grasping at straws. It's safe to look at rankings and know we're not making millions off those novels, but to assume you can calculate total revenue this way is just...weird. And a little sad.

I am, however, interested in your definition of "self-publishing" at this point, since you seem to be quite fixated by it. I'm equally interested to know if, on the release of Steemhouse's second novel written by someone who is not me, you will begin making claims that it is self-published as well. If you say it is not, then that's also weird, because that novel and my novel will have gone through exactly the same acquisition and editorial process

By now I'm starting to lose patience with your conspiracy theories, because they're becoming more and more ludicrous. You're naming people as if they're co-criminals with me, when you can't even fathom that several names you mentioned have physically visited this rescue, in person, and contributed mightily in various ways to the charity. You have no idea if the funds transfered to them were payment for services rendered on behalf of the rescue or even a case of them helping convert crypto to FIAT when I couldn't access an exchange--you just blow hard making assumptions and unfortunately for you, you're adding two and two and getting five.

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Perhaps it was the transfer to rhondak then immediately to michelios that was for charity.

Look @thehappynihilist, from what you say here in this story, I'll be diverting the funds destined to nourish and care for the animals I am living among for 2 weeks and whoever you are, hiding behind this secondary account, I really don't appreciate that.

As it seems you are proud of your "blockchain detective" skills, by checking on my wallet as well, you would have realized the transaction made on my account were partial repayment after having advanced money for the weekly installment of neoxian's TARC loan.

Please keep me out of your little vendetta.

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As the publisher of “High Kill,” a novel written by @rhondak under the pen name Diane Ryan, we should interject here that references to this novel as “self-published” are incorrect. Steemhouse is an LLC incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a valid EIN number issued by the State Corporation Commission. We are members in good standing with the Independent Book Publishers Association and have both an acquisition team and an editing team as well as a governing board. Any submissions published by us, whether short form or long form fiction, are indeed “published” in the most traditional sense.