My name is Kathleen Schlentz and this campaign is for my good friend, Willie Ortiz. Everyday, 78 year-old Willie scours his town of East Hartford and neighboring towns for scrap metal. He loads up his truck, and sells it — for cat food. Now we are honoring the work that he has been doing in the Hartford and East Hartford, CT areas and helping him continue his mission. Willie and Kathleen visiting 1 of his 16 colonies for feeding and pets for whom ever wants them.
For the last 25 years, Willie has been spay, neutering and vaccinating feral and stray cats and feeding them nightly. He has not missed a night of feeding despite the rain, snow, freezing weather or his own health issues. He only misses the nights when it could endanger the cats, when the snow is over 3 inches high. He spends his days collecting scrap metal to pay for these services and food, but as the cat population grows that is simply not enough. Donations made to this campaign will be used to help keep the cats fed, secure his mission for years to come, and allow him to get more cats spayed, neutered, and vaccinated — all of which costs at least $76.00 per cat.This video says it all. Willie’s Story:
I have never met a more committed person - Willie unknowingly inspires me in so many ways. Knowing him has made my life better, just by doing what he does so effortlessly. He is a loving, caring, and honest man who believes very strongly in God and all of his goodness, despite the pain and sadness he sees.
He is a Veteran of the U. S. Army, a husband of 54 years to his wife Alaja, father of two, and grandfather of four. He loves all animals, but recognized the problem with the feral and stray cat population in and around the Hartford and East Hartford areas. When he started this 25 years ago he didn't know this was to be his mission in life.
Presently he feeds 16 colonies of feral and stray cats, every single night, only skipping when conditions would endanger the cats. “If it snows more than three inches, I don’t go because I don’t want them getting their bellies wet and cold,” he says. “But I’ll go the next night and feed them double.”
Willie's cats are all very healthy- because he makes sure they get what they need to have as good and healthy a life as possible. The life expectancy for a feral or stray cat living on the streets is about 5 years. Willie has cats he has been feeding for 15 years and longer.
But the cat colonies are constantly changing, with new cats wandering in or getting dropped off by people that won't or can't care for them. Others getting hit by cars or not making it through the freezing cold winters. Willie makes sure that the newcomers get spayed and neutered as soon as he can trap them (in a "Have a Heart" trap, of course). He makes “cubby holes” for the cats to keep warm in the snowy New England winters. He takes pregnant mothers to his good friend, Roberta where they can have their babies out of the cold. Once they are wined from their mothers, spayed and neutered she finds forever homes for them (and the mothers if they are adoptable). When Willie finds friendly adoptable cats, Roberta will find forever homes for them as well. Right now, the most important thing to Willie is slowing down the feral and stray cat population as soon as possible - he knows this is the only real solution.
To pay for all of his efforts, Willie hunts for discarded scrap metal every single day. People also call him to make donates and he has had connections with various businesses for years, that so kindly donate scrap metal on a continuous basis. If there is anything that he can sell for a higher dollar, he sells it on Craigslist to make a bit more money for his cats.
As you can see, Willie is completely dedicated to his cats. Knowing Willie has been a very humbling experience for me and I am so thankful to call him my friend. Please support Willie and his cats, if at all possible. By donating to this campaign, you have not only helped these innocent cats, but have also helped with the solution to a very big problem in the Hartford and East Hartford Communities. Thank you for reading Willie's story and please spread the word: https://www.gofundme.com/chgmzv5k
Willie and I have worked together to apply for a non-profit status (501c3). We have transfered the funds in his champaign directly to his new "business" bank account. All the funds from this account will be used soley for the purposes outlined in his campaign and to keep his "business" and life's mission running legally and effectively.