The spark to start Second Hope Circle began in December of 2007, but I didn’t know it then. My family and I fostered a kitty named Edward. We were told beforehand that he was a shadow cat. It’s a term coined by many rescues for a cat with extreme shyness; so shy you only ever see their shadows. We picked him up from the pet store that had a viewing room for rescued cats. It was filled with little kittens, and one very shy adult Edward. We brought him home (to our other 6 cats). Not wanting the introductions to happen all at once, he was to stay in my parent’s bedroom for a couple of weeks. After a couple of days we adopted Edward, believing that it was very unlikely he would ever be adopted by anyone else. Weeks in the room turned into a few months. We rarely saw Edward as he spent all of his time under the bed. He was very nervous but loved to be petted and would purr. Eventually we introduced him to our quietest kitty (Minou) and they fell in love. At night Edward started to cry at the door, wondering about the rest of the house and its inhabitants. We let him out and after a few scuffles he seemed to find his place. He stayed with Minou at all times and continued to live under the furniture. Edward continued to make progress. Every year he became more and more confident, until his last two years with us he decided he wanted my mom’s attention enough to sleep in her lap (and steel French fries off her plate!). Edward passed away the summer of 2017 at the approximate age of 16.

DSC_0027*Edward enjoying a sunny spot on the couch in 2012.

I didn’t know when we fostered Edward that he would inspire a very important project. Extreme shyness makes it very difficult for an animal to be adopted. They may not show well among other cats, and people who could be interested can be overwhelmed by the time it will take a cat (or other animal) to come around and be interactive.

In July of 2010 I saw commercials advertising the Pepsi Refresh Project on TV. It was a grant competition awarding grants to ideas with the most votes. Those ideas had to help Canada in some way. It sounded like an amazing opportunity to be able to help animals in Ontario shelters/rescues that were having trouble being adopted, just like Edward.
So on August 1st I applied for a $10,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant, with the hope that my idea would eventually become a reality. On August 28th my idea was approved for the voting stage. So from September 1st to October 31st, I was competing for the grant and I ended up in 6th place. I was amazed that I had managed to place so high. It meant I was put in the next voting round (since I was one of the runners up). After the second voting round I came in 2nd place and won a $10,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant!

Second Hope Circle spent 5 years advocating for animals with special needs and helping member organizations promote them. Luckily since we began, pets with special needs have become more more popular. In 2016 our mission adapted to focus on the human animal bond. In 2018 we recognized the huge need to help support people and pets experiencing poverty and our mission changed to reflect that.

You can read through our mission and see how it has adapted over the years. We never forgot our roots in helping pets with special needs, but are thankful that changing societal and nonprofit views have created a lot more opportunities and respect for these amazing animals.

Kimberley Richards, Project Director


Page last updated March 2020