Community Cats Director Jessica Lynne Myers Named November Positive Person of the Month

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Jessica Lynne Myers, Director of Community Cats of Palm Coast, was nominated by several community members last month as a positive person in the community. 

“Being nominated by the community makes me feel inspired. To be recognized reassures my faith that there are good people in this community that feel as strongly as I do, and it gives me a sense of empowerment to keep fighting for what I believe,” Jessica said.

We asked Jessica how she stays positive in the face of adversity when faced with a difficult situation. “By knowing that my only option is to move forward, facing my decision, head on making the best choice possible. By staying true to my beliefs, and accepting the outcome at all costs,” she told us.

When asked how Community Cats came into existence, Jessica explained, “Community Cats was created in 2013 by Elizabeth Robinson mainly as a TNR organization. Elizabeth worked closely with local rescues surrendering any adoptable cats and kittens to them. As time went by and local rescues became overwhelmed, she began recruiting fosters of her own. Over the years, Community Cats grew, mainly on social media, to having 12,000 online followers and several foster homes. In July 2019, while visiting family, I offered my trapping experience to community cats of Palm Coast as a volunteer. I spent a month volunteering for Elizabeth while also getting to know the rescue as well as the community. During this time, Elizabeth divulged that she had in fact been planning to retire and was desperately searching for someone to take over the rescue. I was deeply concerned and saddened over the overwhelming amount of stray/homeless animals here in Palm Coast and Flagler County. After careful consideration, I made the decision to leave my North Carolina home of 25 years and a successful career as a paralegal to move to Flagler County permanently. I joined CCOPC officially in November 2019. Elizabeth and I worked side-by-side as co-directors until she retired in September of 2020. It was then that I took over the sole position of Executive Director. I have been performing in that role ever since.”

We wanted to know if rescuing animals had always been a passion of Jessica’s. “Although I’ve never thought about it, my earliest memory of rescue is when I was about 11 years old. I found a small kitten outside of our home in Boca Raton, Florida. My father would not let me bring the kitten inside, so I sat outside with it until my mother returned home late that evening from work. I waited there holding that kitten for many hours. When she arrived, we brought him in, cleaned him up and brought him to a local rescue the next day. From that night on, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Life got in the way and it wasn’t until in my early 20’s, already a mother of a toddler, that I had the time to volunteer at local rescues. In my mid-30s, now relocated to rural NC and knowing I wanted to someday have my own rescue, I obtained a degree in Animal Health and Behavior. I also became a certified animal trapper. During this entire time until joining CCOPC in 2019, I have volunteered for local rescues fostering, assisting with trapping and delivering food to needy pet owners in my neighborhood,” she recalled.

Every job has its rewarding moments. We asked Jessica what the most rewarding part of running a rescue is for her.  “I often go to the adoption center at night and just sit on the floor in the middle of the free roam room. Having the once stray and skittish cats come to me for affection proves to me that I am making a difference. Looking around and seeing them in comfortable beds listening to music while they sleep. Knowing they will never again fight for survival on the streets. They will never again be hungry or scared. These are the moments that make me do what I do!”

Along with rewards, jobs also have their challenging moments. We asked Jessica what the most challenging part of running a rescue was, to which she replied, “Even though we have been in existence for 10 years so many people don’t know we exist. Our followers are mainly on social media. It wasn’t until 2019 that we had a brick and mortar presence in the community (the thrift store). It wasn’t until 2021, when the adoption center first opened, that the rescue had a physical presence. Not having one main source of advertising that reaches the entire population county wide, we are constantly looking for ways to do outreach. Many believe Flagler Humane Society serves Palm Coast. The fact is that they are only contracted and paid to be the open admission facility to intake strays. They are not permitted to provide any other services to residents of Palm Coast as they do for the rest of the counties municipalities (Bunnell, Flagler Beach and unincorporated Flagler County). We are the only rescue that serves the stray/homeless cat population within the city limits of Palm Coast, and one of only two in the entire county (FHS being the other). We are not contracted or paid by any municipality in the county. We do not receive any local, state or government funding at all. While I would rather my focus remain 100% on the care of all of my animals, a huge part of job is networking and fundraising. We are in a constant state of desperation. We are always one large vet bill away from having to close. We currently have only 2 businesses that support us financially, one that supports us with discounted veterinary care. Being the one person that is running the entire organization, the responsibility of finding sources of revenue falls solely on my shoulders.”

Every job also has its memorable moments. We inquired about Jessica’s most memorable moment while working with Community Cats. “There is one moment that made me stop and realize I was really making a difference in the lives of the cats I took in, this was when Caesar got adopted. (Cesar) was an eight year old brown tabby cat with FIV. He always had this certain look where he hung his head down and looked sad, never looking at anyone directly. Everybody thought this was just the way he looked. He greeted me every morning, was always within my range of sight in the building and he watched me leave every night when I went home. He was with us over 2 years when someone came to adopt him. I was busy getting his records and processing the adoption when the adopter walked over, picked him up and asked him “do you want to come home and live with me!” I looked over at him and at that moment his head was lifted and he was looking directly at her. He looked over at me, still with his head held high, and meowed. In all my 50 years at that time, I never cried as hard as I did that moment,” she told us.

Jessica would like to thank you for the nomination for November Positive Person of the Month. She also needs help with the organization. “We desperately need volunteers to help at the center, to serve on events and outreach committees and to foster. We will be having our 2nd Picture with Santa in early November. These and many other events will be posted on our Facebook and Nextdoor pages as well as our website. All of the information for the entire rescue is on our website communitycatspc.org.” Please consider helping this great organization if you can!

By Kim Hunt

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