Terry Lin is passionate about giving back to a population that particularly touches his heart, homeless animals. Through his company, Forever Home Blankets, he is able to do just that. His story is a beautiful one that speaks of finding your passion and making it happen.
A few years ago, I quit my finance job to start my own business but things weren't going so well two years in. In retrospect, I was working on things that I didn't truly care about. So I decided to try something that I enjoyed back when I was younger. Growing up in Taiwan 20 years ago, there were lots of stray dogs on the street as many countries in Asia just don't have the proper infrastructure, organization, or the will from society to take care of these animals. I'd always save my dinner scraps for strays living near my apartment, and having the companionship was something I missed.
At the rescue, I started off volunteering once a week cleaning the cat house. Six months in I started being a foster home, and now I join the dog walks and also train on the side as an apprentice dog trainer for fun. My friend has a dog school in Bangkok, Thailand that trains police and service dogs, so he's been showing me the ropes.
As I got more involved, I realized that as one person there is only so much of an impact you can make. Every little bit counts, but I started pondering how I could tackle the problems shelters and rescues face on a bigger scale. That's when I ran across an organization called Operation Blankets of Love, where they organize the logistics and delivery of blankets to shelters across the United States. Living in Vietnam, textiles is a fairly big industry here and the weather never gets that cold. Unfortunately for some animals living in the East Coast of the US where you have snowstorms, things can get dicey if you have to sleep on a concrete floor at night!
Once I had the idea, I did some research into seeing if blankets was something shelters really needed, and it was listed among the top 10 items in all lists that I found on Google. The only issue is that washing them can be a chore, as shelters get quite dirty and animals may have accidents on them. Because of that we've chosen fleece which is quite easy to wash, light to carry, and still offers great warmth for anyone using it.
So I put the project idea on Kickstarter that uses the "buy one, give one" model and that's how I got the first batch of inventory. We're just starting to ship out of Vietnam now and that has it's challenges in itself as it takes roughly 3 weeks to get to the USA, but hopefully that can change as we keep growing and making a difference.
A big part of what I'm doing is also education-based. That means getting people on the fence to start volunteering, fostering, donating, or adopting. I've had countless friends see my photos and have become curious on how to get involved, so that's a good start on scaling up what we're doing here.
As a foster home, it's both rewarding and sad to see your fosters get adopted after they've been with you for months. You know your time with them has come to an end, but also happy that they now have a forever home. Another cat or dog on the streets needs you now, so you just have to be strong for all of them.
As an entrepreneur, this project is still a baby and I'm still figuring out the logistics. But I hope in a year we can sell a ton of blankets every month so that more can be donated to shelters and rescues. So you are getting more than a blanket, but a chance to also make a difference in an animal's life.
Unfortunately animals without homes is an epidemic here in the United States! To think of a homeless dog sleeping in a shelter on a cold, hard floor breaks my heart! What Terry is doing is such a beautiful act of compassion for these animals and is so very needed. When you are in the market for a new blanket, please consider visiting Terry's website to not only purchase one of his beautiful fleece blankets, but to also make a difference in an animals life by providing one to a dog in need. You can connect with Forever Home Blankets at his website, on Instagram, or through his Vlog. Thank you Terry for being a Personal Hero and making a difference!