September starts new times and days at Food for Greater Elgin! Click HERE.
Gerri Vaughn: Hi Michelle and Ty! Thank you for taking a few moments to answer some questions about Bruno’s and your experience here. As you know we are fortunate to have organizations such as Petco and RedRover that grant us money to continue to feed Ty and others like him and we would like to share your experience.
The Beginning: In 2010 Gerri Vaughn, a Paralegal by trade, found Bruno, a Boxer mix, at a local shelter. ‘It was love at first sight’ remembered Gerri, “and right then and there Bruno became a member of the family”. At the same time Gerri notice the large amount of pets in the shelter. “I wondered what can I do to keep these pets out of the shelter? Gerri did a little home work and found that families in temporary crisis due to major catastrophes like hurricane Katrina or loss of income were more likely to surrender
The mission of Bruno’s Pro-Bone-O-Pet Pantry is to ensure that families in temporary financial crisis, the elderly, the disabled, the working poor or military veterans should never have to choose between feeding their pets or their family. For over six years Bruno’s has worked to ensure that over 250 families per year, in our service area, do not have to worry about feeding their beloved pet. We directly impact our community by ensuring families-people and their pets-can stay together in hard times without the added stress of not being able to keep their pet.
Welcome to Bruno's Pro-Bone-O-Pet Pantry
Michelle & Ty: You are very welcome.
Gerri: How did you meet Ty and how long ago?
Michelle & Ty: Ty was previously owned by a friend of my daughter. Ty’s previous owners moved and were unable to keep him.
Gerri: That must have been hard for them (the previous owners).
Michelle & Ty: Yes, It wasn’t easy for them but we worked hard to make Ty feel at home and fit in with our family.
Gerri: Michelle, what lead you to Bruno’s?
Michelle & Ty: Well, in 2013 I lost my job and didn’t know how I was going to feed Ty. A friend of mine told me about Bruno’s so I filled out an application along with income information and Bruno’s has helped me feed my dog every month. I don’t know what I would have done without their help.
Gerri: What has it meant to you to be able to feed Ty the past several years?
Michelle & Ty: It relieved my stress. It’s the same as if you couldn’t feed your kids.
Gerri: What would it mean (to you) if Bruno’s was unable to provide food for Ty in the future?
Michelle: I’d be scared. Not just for Ty but the other animals out there. No one wants to give up their pets because they have fallen on hard times.
Gerri: And finally, what would you like to say to Petco, RedRover and Rescue Bank for supporting Bruno’s Pro-Bone-O-Pet Pantry?
Michelle: First, thank you! (Bruno’s) is the best thing that has happened in this community. We needed this. Nothing is sadder than to have a lot of love for your pet but can’t always afford their food. God Bless Bruno’s.
Gerri: Thank you, Michelle and Ty, for sharing your thoughts.
Michelle G. is 65 and a lifelong resident of Elgin IL. She is married to her husband Denis with two adult children and the grandparents of 4. Michelle spent her career as a Mental Health Professional for the Larkin Center of Elgin. She lost her job after a corporate merger. We met Michelle after she suffered a debilitating fall breaking her shoulder and right foot.
We heard from Michelle after our conversation: "I would like to add something else. I do everything for Ty. I bath him, walk him, clean his ears, play with him, teach him things, brush him, give him car rides, let him up on my bed and all the furniture. I do everything for him but he does more for me than I’ll ever be able to do for him.” She adds “Some people have the love, room and the patience for animals they just don’t have the means to feed them. Keep doing what you’re doing and God Bless You. Thank you for all your help.”
Testimonials (who we help)
Meet Ty, One of Bruno's Buddies
their pets for no better reason then the inability to pay for food! With a little more investigation, Gerri found that for elderly folks pets not only serve as a companion but may be the only interaction they have all day. The elderly are also more likely go without food for themselves opting to feed their pets instead. ‘I started thinking about the young veterans, returning home, who have therapy dogs to help cope with PTSD. What if they don’t have the ability to pay for food? I started noticing people in the local food pantry" said Gerri, “Ground beef and rice – that’s more than likely to become dog food or cans of tuna – that’s cat food.” A little more investigation and Gerri found "..there wasn’t any organization out there..." trying to help these families and their pets stay together.
Bruno takes shape: Soon after Bruno’s arrival in the Vaughn family Gerri started Bruno’s Pro-Bone-O-Pet Pantry. Gerri forged a relationship with ‘Food For Greater Elgin’ a local food bank. “I was able have a place to distribute food AND storage for the extra food and other pet related necessities.” Partnering with Petco was our first big break. They were donating to a Chicago pantry and were looking to keep the food local. They called Bruno and we've been partners ever since! A friend also told Gerri about RESCUE BANK, an organization supplied by Purina, that donates the majority of the food Bruno’s distributes. Working with other organizations and donors made the next five years a great success. ‘I’m very thankful and fortunate to have the support of Petco, Rescue Bank and the other Bruno fans.'
Looking ahead: Now we are em-“barking” (pardon the pun) on our next growth period. We decided to expand our ‘Neighborhood” by creating ‘Bruno’s Food Truck’. A food truck will allow us to work with other food banks in the greater Chicago area as well as deliver food to those that have a hard time making it to a food pantry. Acquiring a truck (we’re thinking more like an old ice cream truck ;) can be costly, there’s the truck, the maintenance, the interior & exterior updates and a driver so we need your help. Please think about us when you are deciding which charities you will support!
A conversation with Gerri Vaughn the founder of Bruno’s