Yesterday, I finally mustered the courage to say, "I'm struggling, and I need help." I was drowning, and I asked for a lifeline. I asked if each of you could toss me something, anything, to help me stay afloat.
I put out my plea to a group of people --who, quite honestly-- owed me nothing. And out of sheer desperation, I begged for your help.
That was really hard for me, because I rarely ask for the help I so desperately need. I'd just rather give to someone else instead. Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you... that's just the way I am. And I'm sure it makes me eligible for all kinds of counseling.
So, through my tears, I wrote a post from my heart. I felt hopeless, helpless, and desperate. I also felt ashamed, to finally say the words: "I'm struggling to pay my bills." But more than anything, a big part of me felt like I'd failed my rescue dogs.
But regardless of how I felt, I needed help, and I asked for it. I shared my post, hoped for the best, and then got back to work.
And when I finally returned to the computer... I was absolutely speechless.
My facebook home page was filled with one thing: shares of my post. I saw so many pleas for help, all written on my behalf: "Please help Ashley. She needs us." Posted by friends, strangers, and fan pages, large and small.
I saw so many comments... amazing comments, heartwarming comments... about me and the work that I do. In these posts, I read the words "hero," "role model," and "inspirational." I saw requests for donations, fosters, and volunteers... for me. I saw support, encouragement, and most of all, hope.
Honestly, with or without donations, the response alone would've been enough for me. I'd never feel deserving of that level of kindness, but it was truly incredible... just to know that so many people cared. And while the simple act of sharing my post may have seemed small, even insignificant, to you... I want you to know that it meant everything to me.
But... that was only the beginning...
In my post, I asked the following question: Would you be willing to sponsor at least one of my rescue dogs for the week, so I don't have to choose between my bills and their needs?
Here was the answer I received, over and over again: "You shouldn't have to choose. I just donated so you don't have to."
The day began with tears of sadness, uncertainty, and despair. The rest of the day was filled with tears of joy, relief, and the sincerest form of gratitude. Today... I feel alive again.
And because of YOU... I reached my goal. I can pay my bills and keep my rescue babies safe for another month. I'm speechless. It's just the most incredible gift I've ever received.
I wish I could find the words to say just how much your generosity means to me. I wish I could truly express the gratitude in my heart for what you've done for me and my special dogs. I wish you could know exactly what you did for me yesterday.
In all my life, I've never felt so touched, or humbled, or grateful. Words just aren't enough... but here's my best attempt to explain how you made me feel:
I rescue dogs for a living. I save them; I give them hope. I choose to do without, so that they don't have to. When they need me, I'm always there.
Yesterday, I became a rescue dog. Yesterday, I knew exactly how my pups must feel. Because yesterday, I was rescued... by all of you.
I asked for help, and you helped me. You owed me nothing, but you gave to me anyway. From the bottom of my heart... thank you. You just can't know what you've done for me. You just can't know how much I needed you. You just can't know how much I appreciate you.
This Thanksgiving, when asked what I'm most thankful for, the answer will be easy. I'm thankful... for you. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*I'll still face this same problem at Christmas and New Year's. So if you didn't get a chance to donate yesterday, you can pay-it-forward for next month! It's still VERY needed and appreciated!