2017-01-13 / Your City

A mission in memory of Sophie

Leominster couple establishes food pantry for pets
By Diane C. Beaudoin


Dan and Christina Brodeur, founders of Sophie’s Mission, sit at the fireplace each holding one of their dogs, as well as the urn that contains their beloved cat Sophie, along with Sophie’s photo. 
Diane C. Beaudoin photo Dan and Christina Brodeur, founders of Sophie’s Mission, sit at the fireplace each holding one of their dogs, as well as the urn that contains their beloved cat Sophie, along with Sophie’s photo. Diane C. Beaudoin photo When people think of food pantries, places like Ginny’s Helping Hands usually come to mind.

One Leominster couple has recently started up a not-for-profit food and supply pantry, but this one is for animals that may also be in need.

Christina and Dan Brodeur have started Sophie’s Mission, named after their beloved pet cat who recently passed away quite unexpectedly.

“Our Sophie was 10 years old, and one night she made a very odd and loud noise, and collapsed right in front of us,” Christina Brodeur said. “We tried to do CPR, but it was too late for her.”

She went through the sorrow and grief of losing her pet, all the while with the thought of doing something positive in Sophie’s honor in the back of her mind.

“I have always been a huge animal activist, volunteering at shelters,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something more for animals.”

Christina Brodeur owns her own pet-sitting business, Fuzzy Paws Pet Care, but she still wanted to do something more in the animal field.

She and her husband decided to start up a nonprofit organization to benefit families with pets that may have hit a rough spot and be in need of pet food and some basic supplies.

“What we do is accept donations of food and supplies that would come in handy,” Christina Brodeur explained. “I make up a three-day supply of food, both wet and dry, and so far we have delivered these bags to Ginny’s, the Pepperell Food Pantry, some local families in town, as well as in Gardner. This is not just for cats either. We do dogs, birds, hamsters, rabbits, pretty much any animal that does not eat other animals for their food supply.”

Sophie’s Mission also will supply pet sweaters, bowls, leashes, collars and toys for the furry friends.

As donations have come in, and more of a need has presented itself, Christina and Dan Brodeur had set out to find an older trailer so they could be 100 percent mobile.

“I found out that Our Father’s House in Fitchburg was selling their older trailer to purchase a bigger one,” Christina Brodeur said. “We were able to secure that, so we will update it and be able to go to events and also deliver supplies and food for the pets.”

Christina Brodeur has also partnered up with Sally Cragin, a columnist for the Leominster Champion who runs Be PAWSitive: Therapy Pets and Community Education, which is another organization that helps animals.

“Our next thing will be to make an application process for those that need the help, so I’ll be working on that next,” she noted.

Christina Brodeur also wants to partner up with a veterinarian that may be interested in donating a few hours a month to do low-cost or no-cost pet checkups.

“I would love to find a place to set up maybe once a month with the mobile food and supply pantry in the trailer, and have a vet on hand that would do some quick checkups,” she said. “I know there are families that cannot afford expensive vet visits. I’m not talking a whole physical, but a quick checkup for the pet to and make sure the heart and lungs are doing OK, you know, something like that would be great. They could also get a few days of pet food and any supplies they may need.”

Christina Brodeur knows in her heart this is a great way to honor her Sophie and make a difference in some other pets’ lives.

“I feel by doing this, it may cut down on pet surrender at local shelters,” she explained. “When a family is hitting a rough patch, the pet would be the first to go if they cannot afford it. This way, it helps out, and the family would be more apt to keep their pet within the family.”

Sophie’s Mission accepts donations of gently used pet supplies, such as leashes, toys, food or anything that a pet could use.

“We run on donations,” Christina Brodeur said, “and believe me, everything gets used for any animal in need.”

Dan Brodeur said the idea of becoming mobile will be great, “so that we can go to people instead of people coming to us. We plan to contact all surrounding cities and towns, and if there is a need, we will be there.”

The couple’s love for pets is obvious speaking to them, as they both hold the memory of Sophie near and dear to their hearts. Sophie’s urn sits near her photo and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi nearby. St. Francis is the patron saint of all animals.

Some of the people the couple hopes to reach are the elderly who live on Social Security, but love to have a small pet for company.

“They may have a hard time making ends meet, so if we can reach out to them, it may help out,” Christina Brodeur said.

A Facebook page (search for “Sophie’s Mission”) posts regular updates and will start posting when events start up that they will attend.

“What we would like to do is go to places maybe once a month to give out what is needed and maybe to collect donations,” Christina Brodeur said. “My mom knits some dog sweaters for us, and people donated some. We want to keep a supply of everything on hand so if we are needed, we will be ready.”

A GoFundMe page has also been set up (https://www.gofundme.com/ sophies-mission) for donations to the organization.

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