Monday 2 June 2014

Interview with the Head Zoo Keeper: Sarah from @ZooJourneys

Few on twitter will not recognize or have seen the orange "Z" of Journeys of The Zoo go by in their twitter feed. We know Sarah as a funny and kind person, who shares tons of great tidbits of information. She is one of those truly genuine people who make a point to engage on a personal level with others. Rarely does she respond with a simple RT or LOL, instead she responds with questions, or comments meant to continue and expand the conversation. She will ask you things like: How does that make you feel? Will you attend again? I'm sorry to hear that. or Feel better soon! 
Many of you may know about her annual drive to Mexico, and follow along to see the antics and fun Sarah and her family get up to as they adjust to what can only be considered culture shock. They all seem to effortlessly adjust to a very different pace and way of life for several months each year. 

Given the type of person that Sarah is, it is not surprising that she volunteers her time to, and supports several charities. So taking my cue from Sarah I thought I would ask her a few some questions meant to continue and expand dialogue about those charities.

What charities do you actively support?
"Every week that we're in Canada, I stop in to my local food bank and thrift shop, House of Lazarus. After six years, I am honoured to call the staff my friends.
When in Mexico, we touch base with the President of "Tzi'te Proccion Animal" a humane society* that we joined in 2005 to get an update on what they've done throughout the year."

Why are these charities important to you?
"Some people want to change the world, whereas I want to have an impact on one person at a time. Every time I visit House of Lazarus, I see people that need help, and I can help them. I hope that if I ever need help, they will help me.
In Mexico, they have social programs to help and feed people but nothing for the dogs. They have no voice so I speak for them."

What do you do to try to support these charities?
"Every week, I get the kids to pick a toy (or two) to give to House of Lazarus. We spend a fair amount of money in the thrift shop as most of the kids' clothes, toys, and books are purchased from there, as well as household items such as dishes, movies, crafts and knickknacks. One hundred percent of this money is used to fund the food bank. In the summer, I always make sure that I plant too many vegetables and donate the excess. I try to mention them (House of Lazarus) any chance I can on my blog, and love to support them on social media. 
(Re Mexico) One thing that the dog association lacks (that they have control over) is (a source of) funding. Every year, when I come back to Canada, I load up the van with local artisans' products and sell them in Canada. The solution is a win-win-win! I spend my money locally and support the local artisans work by paying a fair price for their goods. I bring back colourful, handmade and one of a kind products that Canadians wouldn't otherwise have access to and 100% of the profits go to support our dog initiatives in Mexico. You can read more about this in my three part series starting with The Issue Tzi'te Humane Society in Mexico."
*Note that I use the term "humane society" to imply action and not because we are associated with the official association.

Given that every little bit counts, whether in terms of time, money, or actively educating and sharing what these charities do, what can others do to help support these charities?
"Social media is such a powerful tool. All it takes is for the right person, to see a post and solutions are found. We don't have a lot of extra money to donate, however it only a few minutes to promote a cause on Twitter or Facebook. If every Canadian gave 10 cents to a cause that would make a pot of $3,300,000. See what a dime can do!" 

If you could give one or two reasons why you personally feel it is important to get involved and give back in some way, what would they be?
"Some may say that this is a selfish one, but it's true, the joy I get from being able to help others makes me so proud. The saying "to give is better than to receive" really is true for me.
The other reason is that I want to leave this world in a better place than I entered it. One way for me to do that is through my children. I want them to grow up and be empathetic, caring and compassionate people that "deposit into the bank account of life, as much as the withdrawl". I want them to know that not everyone has the things that they do. Not from a state of guilt but of reality. Some people lack one or all of the basics of life, food, shelter and safety."

Have you always volunteered?
"I really found my calling after the death of my son Alexander. The morning after he died, a woman gave me 25 cents. A quarter. Her gesture changed my life forever. You can read about it here How the Gift of a Quarter Changed My Life Forever. "

Do you think it is important for your kids to give back? If so, how do you teach them about charity and kindness?
"Having my kids be charitable is one of my key goals as a parent. I try to do this by teaching them to be aware; to think twice when a friend asks them for a bite of food or a toy. Perhaps they are hungry or have no toys. Living in Mexico has been especially helpful in teaching this. Poverty is on every street corner. 
Moving forward, I will remind them that being rich does not necessarily make a person happy, although having some money definitely helps."

What is the one thing you have learned about people through your involvement in charities, and volunteering?
"Something I have learned about people and it is not limited to those involved in charities is that people are good and they mean well. I have yet to meet a volunteer that would make me believe (based on their actions) they don't love what they're doing, I try and thank them for their contribution every chance I get."

Any last thoughts?
"I'd like to thank every single person that has ever purchased any of our Mexican goods. Every little bit counts. To people who give their time and energy for those who can't. To you Cathy and all the generous sponsors that support our Companies that Give to Those in Need in memory of my son, Alexander."
"If everyone said thank you to one person, once a day, that would be a lot of thank yous."

Thank you Sarah for taking the time to chat with me, and for all you do. You are as beautiful on the inside as out!

Clearly others see that Sarah is a wonderful and giving person since she was recently nominated for Walmart's Mom of the Year 2014. Congratulations on the well deserved nomination Sarah!
Be sure to follow Sarah and all The Zoo's adventures on Journeys of The Zoo on Facebook and Journeys of The Zoo on Twitter

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Sarah.


  1. Thank you so much for allowing me this opportunity to share my charities with others.

    In case your followers don't know, the last time I saw you, you gave me a VAN FULL of beautiful items such as clothes, electronics and books to take to House of Lazarus. They were very appreciative.

    I am very fortunate to have enough food to feed my family and the love of so many great friends. Present company included.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

  2. A lovely post Cathy, Sarah is certainly a wonderful woman.

  3. Hey Cathy!

    This was an amazing post you wrote about Sarah! I agree with her about giving back in some way, as well as teaching your kids the value of giving back. I do the same with my kids.