Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
What a difference less than 48 hours can make.
On Wednesday evening, The Chatham Voice published a story about the struggles TJ Stables is facing – heightened financial losses as owner Terry Jenkins tries to feed her horses without a steady source of income.
By Thursday morning, Lisa Lester, decided to help out a fellow Chatham-Kent business woman and set up a Go Fund Me page. By Friday, she had already raised more than $2,300.
“I saw her story and felt really bad because in my three businesses, I have a way to cut back my costs to survive for a while, but it’s tough when you have animals to feed. It breaks my heart you have to sell animals to save money,” said Lester, who runs the wedding halls at the Chatham Armoury and owns her own decorating business, as well as All That Jazz Dance Company.
READ MORE: ‘TJ Stables will rise again,’ owner pledges
“From one business owner to another, my heart goes out to you and what you’re going through. Despite everything, you remain positive,” Lester wrote on her Go Fund Me Post.
Jenkins said when she saw the support, she was incredibly humbled.
“Wow, that is shocking to myself and my husband, John. I have always been so proud of this community and I am humbled by its generosity. I’m not used to asking for any funding for myself, I’ve always fundraised for Acceptional Riders to give to the community as best I always could in better times,” she said.
Jenkins added she understands that everyone is going through a tough time, but if someone would like to contribute, then every dollar is welcome.
“Every dollar will go toward feeding an animal here, whether it be a rabbit or chicken just once or right up to horses for an extended period,” she said.
Jenkins said if the lockdown is lifted sooner than later and they get back on their feet, any remaining funds will go to the Acceptional Riders, a charitable therapeutic riding program for children and adults with disabilities, running since 1992.
Jenkins said other people in the community have called directly to offer e-transfers and some just to give her a big thumbs up and words of encouragement. Jenkins is also appreciative of everyone who offered to volunteer but said because of the lockdown they cannot accept any volunteers.
Lester did say she got some hate messages from other businesses around town who have livestock to feed, but she reminds everyone that donation is voluntary and encourages anyone who needs help to reach out to the community.
“I want everyone to support each other,” she said. “Business people need to support each other too.”