The snowball effect of giving back

Grassroots Tehachapi


February 16, 2019

Julianna Crisalli.

Have a Heart Humane Society received a donation of $500 from Red House BBQ's annual Super Bowl Charity Cater event. From left: Carol Larimore, Have a Heart volunteer; Barbara Ferrante, the winner of the barbecue charity event who selected the local nonprofit; Gina Christopher, Have a Heart CFO and treasurer; Mei Mei and Mano Lujan, owners of Red House BBQ; and Cindy Lawler, a Have a Heart volunteer. Cindy is holding sleepy Blondie, the puppy.

Last week I visited Have a Heart Humane Society, not to adopt the adorable puppy I fell in love with, but to witness a wonderful act of kindness.

For the last eight years, Red House BBQ owners Mano and Mei Mei Lujan have held their Super Bowl Charity BBQ Cater, offering the highest bidder a Super Bowl meal that feeds 25. This year, Barbara Ferrante, proprietor of Jake's Steakhouse, was the winner with her $425 bid. Not only did she win the 25 meals, but the chance to donate her bid to a local charity of her choice. Ferrante increased the donation to $500, and Have a Heart was the thankful recipient.

"This feels great," said Have a Heart's CFO and Treasurer Gina Christopher. "The grant money has been a little slow coming in right now and every bit helps."

Ferrante has been a long time supporter of Have a Heart.

"I've donated to them in the past, and my passion is animals. I knew this was a local organization that I wanted to donate to," Ferrante said. "This will help quite a few animals now."

Though she hasn't adopted any furry friends from Have a Heart, Ferrante has four dogs ... all rescues.

Christopher said, the donation will go toward their low-cost spay and neuter clinics. Every little and big bit helps, and as a proud owner of a Have a Heart kitten, I couldn't be happier for Christopher and her team.

"These clinics cost us a fortune and that's our mission. That's what we are all about. That's what we are here for," Christopher said. "Kern County is so unique in our pet overpopulation problem. We're the worst in California ... adoption is not the solution, as fun as it is ... prevention is the only answer."

What makes this story even better is what Ferrante decided to do with the catered food. She donated it to the Tehachapi VFW for their Super Bowl party.

"They were going to have a get together, probably a pot luck and I said, 'how about meals for 25 people?'" Ferrante said. "I went over there with my girlfriend on [Super Bowl] Sunday and set it up for them. They were very happy."

When Mano heard where the donated meals were going, he upped his offer to a feast that feeds 40.

"I was excited that it was being donated to veterans," Mano said. "I knew that there would be more than 25 people at the VFW and I did not want them to run out of food too fast."

The act of giving here just kept multiplying. It's inspiring to see. There's often a lot of darkness in the world, on personal and global levels, but when a simple act of kindness can be shared, we all grow a little brighter.

As a mom, I'm constantly reminding my kids to think of others when you speak and act, to use compassion in all interactions. It makes my job so much easier when I can point to members of our own community doing just that.

See you next time and be kind to one another!

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at [email protected]


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