Health & Medicine

Woman's idea could help humans, animals find stable homes

Jill Timmins wants to establish a homeless shelter of sorts for humans and domestic animals in the Bluegrass called Animals Helping Humans & Humans Helping Animals.

The humans will provide the care and training that the animals need, and the animals will provide the self-esteem, sense of accomplishment and work skills that the humans need to get jobs and re-established in society.

To start such an innovative project, Timmins needs your help. Not your money, just minutes of your time every day this month.

"I call it my 'ah ha' moment," said Timmins, 29.

She is vying with 300 other projects — including three in Kentucky — in the $250,000 category of the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Pepsi announced the contest in December, saying it would forgo buying commercial time during the Super Bowl and donate $20 million this year to encourage and give funding to local projects that would improve neighborhoods and communities throughout the country.

People or organizations may submit ideas for review, and 1,000 a month will compete for $1.3 million in four categories: $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $250,000.

To win $250,000, Timmins has to be one of the top two finishers in April.

The top 10 projects in each of the other categories will win awards. Ten Kentucky projects are in those categories.

When I looked Monday morning, Timmins' project was in 71st place. When I looked again that afternoon, it had fallen to 76th.

Here's where you can help: To support Timmins' project, go to, sign up and vote. You can vote as many as 10 times a day from each e-mail address that you submit.

Timmins wants to establish the shelter where it is most needed. Although she had never owned a pet as a child, she had a pet-sitting service and now owns a therapy dog, Sandie.

At her shelter, animals would not be corralled off the streets. They would be obtained from other shelters, she said.

Timmins, a family-support specialist with the state, said she has been thinking about this project for some time. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in family, youth and community sciences and a minor in non-profit organization.

Animals bring out the best in people by loving us unconditionally, she said. Many people could benefit from that kind of love.

Here's her plan: The people — or humans, as she calls them — who live at the shelter would have assigned jobs, for which they would earn a certificate. Qualified counselors would be available to help the people deal with any substance-abuse problems and train them to keep a budget and maintain a checking account.

Once the person has completed the program, which would take at least four months, counselors would help him or her find employment and a home.

The shelter, which would be separate but on the same grounds, would be about "helping alleviate overpopulated human homeless shelters and preventing shelter animals from being euthanized," Timmins wrote on the application.

"This will be a no-kill shelter," she said.

Low-cost veterinary services would be available to help defray future costs of the shelter.

If you support Timmins' idea, be sure to vote.

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