Anna von Retiz
Among all the questions I get— and I get some strange questions — none perplex me more than inquiries about where I donate money and why?
Well, obviously, for some years now my husband and I have been supporting a mammoth effort to research America’s history and the history of law and religion throughout the world. This has not been a small or inexpensive endeavor for an oil painter and a legal beagle. The bulk of whatever charitable giving we have goes to the members of The Living Law Firm and the researchers and paralegals supporting them. That’s the way it is, and the way it has to be, if we are to continue to make the strides homeward that we have made.
That said, there are lots of worthy efforts and we don’t forget them or fail those duties, either.
We just got our “21 years” card from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. My husband put it most succinctly: “Their sacrifice continues, so our support continues, too.”
The family motto is “Loyal unto death.” So it was and is and always will be.
Paralyzed Veterans of America
7 Mill Brook Road
PO Box 9533
Wilton, NH 03086-9533
We have been contributing for a long time, though I have no specific number of years, to Food for the Poor, also. This organization provides food, clean water, housing, medical help, orphan care, and whatever it can do to help our neighbors in the Caribbean and Meso-America. It has one of the lowest administrative costs of any such organization on Earth, and when they invite you to make a prayer request— they are serious. They will call you up and pray for you and with you. As you all have cause to know, I am a skeptic— so when I say, “Yeah!” — it means something. The people this organization supports are our neighbors; they are desperately poor and many have suffered the ravages of severe storms, earthquakes, and other disasters. If we have a calling to help beyond our borders, let it begin here with our offshore neighbors and with organizations like Food for the Poor — mission driven, unselfish, effective, and sincere.
Food for the Poor
6401 Lyons Road
PO Box 979003
Coconut Creek, Florida 33097-9989
Then, I have two schools I support, both of them Church Residential Schools for Native Americans. Although I do not and never did support the enforced residential schools imposed by the government, these Christian institutions fulfill a desperate need in some of the poorest counties in America and protect some of those who are most worthy of our care: Native American children.
It is a terrible scandalous situation that continues to blemish our great nation that these First People have suffered all that they have suffered and continue to suffer: poverty, neglect, prejudice, and truncated opportunities. Life “on the Res” is often brutal and the clash of cultures and values that continues to this day destroys health, destroys families, and too often, destroys hope itself.
I know that Kevin Annett has made a name decrying abuses that went on in similar schools fifty or a hundred years ago. What I can tell you for sure is that both of these schools have no such history of child abuse and have many, many successful graduates who are making a difference in the arts and sciences, in the military, in education, and in government. Giving these Americans a decent chance in life is— in my view— another sacred duty. Nobody knows or loves this country more than the Native Americans. Enough said.
St. Labre Indian School
P.O. Box 216
Ashland, Montana 59002-9989
Serves the Crow and Flathead tribes in Montana, some of the most expert traders and craft artists on this continent.
St. Joseph’s Indian School
P.O. Box 326
Chamberlain, SD 57326
Serves the Lakota Sioux, among the bravest warriors who ever lived on Earth.
My charity also extends to animals, especially draft horses and elderly black cats.
I have always loved the Gentle Giants and revered their strength and contribution to building this country. It was draft horses that pulled the millstones and worked the fields and hauled the stones and logs and now many of them need help. A draft horse needs a lot of food and care and pays back in love and strength and willingness to work. Maybe we can’t go back to a truly agrarian farm culture, but my “horse sense”— pardon the pun— tells me that we would be better off if we did, and that if we betray these patient, trusting creatures we betray ourselves and our roots and our culture. If everyone reading this contributed just $10 a year, it would totally revolutionize the work that the good people at Gentle Giants do to save and defend and preserve this precious living heritage.
Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue
17250 Old Frederick Road
Mount Airy Maryland 21771
My own Black Cat Rescue began many years ago when I was adopted by an elderly black cat. He was a denizen of the salty piers in Juneau, Alaska, a tough, cold, and rainy place if there ever was one, but Poontah of the Punjab, so called because of his regal demeanor, panther-like grace, unfailing civility, and noble temper— as well as the fact that he wore a collar of Hindu beads— was equal to any challenge. Even me.
I had never been owned by a cat and never imagined that I would be, but he won me over and together we survived some very, very tough times. When the Old Hero died, I wept for three days. Among the lessons he taught me were patience, respect for others, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Who can repay such a debt?
And among the things I learned because of him is that life for a black cat, especially an elderly black cat, can be very desperate indeed.
People are superstitious about black cats, so they have a lower than average chance of being adopted into a good home to begin with, and as they get older, those slim chances decline. Despite the advantages that many older and more experienced cats offer to a family, they aren’t as cute and playful as kittens. So, in memory of my first cat, I began putting out the word that when rescuers found elderly black cats in need of a sponsor….. four elderly black cats later, I can tell you that I have no regrets. They each gave me love and entertainment and good luck equal to winning a lottery.
As with most things, patience and dedication and goodwill are what pay off, not the amount given, but the fact of the giving, not the grand gesture, but the day by day and year by year support that fills in the blanks and tides over the rough spots and makes it possible to keep going when all you have is faith that someone, somewhere cares enough to help.
You realize that fully when you get a membership card in the mail that says you’ve been a supporter for 21 years.
So for all those who are curious about my own giving habits, these are “my” charities above and beyond The Living Law Firm and the Asset Recovery Team that I contribute to faithfully every year. I can recommend them all as worthy efforts and good places to weigh in and make a difference. The important point is to thoroughly check out the organizations and causes you give money to, and make those choices in alignment with your own values and experience in life—and then give and keep on giving. Make it count. Make it a commitment. There are times in my life when I only had $5 to give, but I gave it.
When I turn up my heels, I will know that I kept my faith with my country and my countrymen, with our veterans, with the Native children, with the Gentle Giants, and a certain number of very special elderly black cats. That may seem to be an odd assortment, and I fully admit that it is, but then, I am an odd person. It all fits me to a “t”. So go forth, America, in the dark days of the winter and let your light shine when it is least expected; give in support of the people and causes that matter to you, because in the end, you are giving back to yourself and “voting” in a far more meaningful way than by checking a box on a ballot.