Training up children in the way they should go
Some 16-year-old Gulf Breeze High School sophomores are getting extracurricular lessons at home. Their mom is teaching them to be Angels In Our Midst.
The Helms quadruplets are a close knit bunch. Their mom has raised them to be caring of abandoned, stray and hurting animals; “You know, a lot of people say, ‘Somebody needs to do something.’ Well, I want them to feel like they have to be the ones to do something."
Their own rescued fur babies are the somewhat aloof Lilly, the more than a little curious cat Jazz, and Miss Josie, who is struggling with cataracts. When Teresa Helms saw a posting on the Friends of the Escambia County Animal Shelter Facebook page seeking foster homes, her entire crew was on board.
Kendall provides their living space; “They use my room for fostering because, like, all the others rooms are with our other cats we have. And my room's, like, the one available."
For going on three years now, when the shelter is overcrowded or a sick cat or litter needs special attention, the Helms family opens their home like they've done for their latest foster, Jitterbug. They all play a role in the care of their temporary charges.
Alexandra likes socializing; "We get to let the animals be around humans and play with humans and get used to having a family."
Mira's the in-house doc; "I usually do the medications, like if they need eyedrops or any ointments or anything because I want to be in the medical field when I'm older."
As for brother Zach, the family agrees his role is pretty clear; "I really like to name them."
Actually, Zach's done a lot more than naming the cats. He was so taken by the whole rescue effort, he geared his Eagle Scout Project around the animals at the shelter. "I built beds...dog beds, really, for the animals of the animal shelter so they could get off the ground."
All their efforts are done with one thing in mind; to get the animals well and socialized so that they're ready for new homes. Some of their guests are here for just a short time; others, much longer before they're transported for adoption.
Kim Rainer, vice president of the Friends of the Escambia County Animal Shelter, says you can't put a price on this labor of love. "Fostering is a commitment and you have to have the whole family on board in order to make it really a success. They work to socialize them, make sure they have all the medicine they need; every little thing that they need, the Helms family provides while they're here."
Seeing where their fosters end up is a big reward.
“It's cool cause sometimes on the Facebook page you can see like who's adopted them and they can take pictures,” Kendall said.
"It's really cool to see that they're so happy and their families are happy that they found them too,” Mira added.
The children say their mother is a good leader in showing them what to do. Mom hopes that what she is teaching helps to ensure a next generation filled with compassion; "Whether its animals, or anything; homeless, or anything; you can step up and do something. You don't have to just watch it."