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2016 President's Message

Taking on several large projects, this year was an exhausting whirlwind for our Foundation. There were days I felt suffocated, like everything I did seemed to be the wrong move. I realized we were growing and changing and being challenged. We have learned a lot in the past year, we know what works, and what doesn’t work. Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times when trying to create the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, "I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb." The idea is that -- even if you try and fail, it doesn't mean that you didn't learn something. Change starts with one small step. In that journey, others join in. Because of all of you, we are where we find ourselves today and we could not have done it without your support and belief in the work we do. As anyone in rescue knows, it takes crazy, passionate, fearless people to advocate on behalf of the voiceless.


I am so thankful to the people that are able to be on the front line doing the actual rescue of these helpless and loving creatures. You are all true superheroes in my eyes. I am in awe of the amazing friendships I have formed through Berkeley’s Place. Friendships that have become the very backbone and heartbeat of this organization. I am humbled and proud to say that we are here, and always have been and will continue to be here, for the animals. At this point in time, there are many animals in need. I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all our supporters and corporate backers. We would not be able to do what we have accomplished so far. You support our cause and believe in us. We have the best Facebook fans because this page is for us to all come together for the love of animals. We enjoy sharing animals and their needs with you and appreciate when you rally to help them. We could not do what we do without you. Together we save lives!


Fort McMurray brought us to our knees but like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, so too rose up a community of Albertans who would not be defeated. From around the world, support poured in for our brothers and sisters to the north. I will forever remember the day a box arrived from Paris, France, and inside the most beautiful handmade quilt. That box marked the first of hundreds of boxes of quilts, blankets and other homemade goodies that arrived to wrap our displaced friends and family in love. 2016 saw a lot of tragedy – we said goodbye to a beloved Ambassador, Winky (Winky rides ). Tragedy struck again when 12 precious lives were lost in a kennel tragedy and lawmakers failed to pass Bill C-232, which would have seen amendments to the animal cruelty laws moving animals from the property category to being recognized as sentient beings.


But, we prevailed. In our own City, you advocated! You were their voices! Because of you, a puppy mill breeder was brought under investigation and precious lives were saved, charges were laid and we applaud each and every one of you for making this happen. Our Alberta Spca worked tirelessly to save each pup removed. Across the world a movement has taken hold and humanities inhumanity against the animals is being brought to light. Animals are being rescued, transported and lives spared because YOU care enough to say enough!


What does 2017 hold for us? The launch of ‘Project Purr – New Beginnings’. We are pleased to welcome Michelle Elfstedt to our family at Berkeley’s Place. Michelle has trapped and re-homed over 100 homeless and abandoned cats within the past year. She has been my go-to “cat whisper” helping our Foundation by using her time and resources to travel in Edmonton and surrounding communities, as far east as Vegreville and as far west as Spruce Grove to remove cats from a dire situation. Working with rescues and fosters, these cats are socialized and adopted into loving homes. Our goal will be to continue to work at educating on the importance of spay/neuter and to work with organizations and fundraise for low cost spay/neuter programs to reduce the number of unwanted litters.


We want to continue to build community support and involvement. We are networking and building relationships with local corporations and community organizations helping to spread the word. We are redefining our services and finding compatible funding sources that will allow us to be self-sustaining. We had applied to the CRA for charity status almost one year ago. Regrettably this summer we had to withdraw our application for status as the scope of the work we do does not line up with the Income Tax Act. In essence, we were asked to give up our Alberta registered non-profit rescues and help only other registered charities. We felt that it was the little rescues that needed our help the most and moving forward, the relationships we have built were more important than charity status. We are now looking at applying for grants and soliciting corporate donations as well as continuing to organize fundraising opportunities and solicit personal donations.


Thank you everyone from the bottom of hearts and paws, and hooves and claws. We look forward to continued adventures with you. On behalf of the Board of Directors of Berkeley’s Place, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.



Lillian Courtney, President

Berkeley’s Place Foundation

December 2016