Before I head to Every Kitty Every City® TEXAS on July 23, I invite you to think about the meaning of the term sweat equity.

When you hear it, you might picture a young, strapped-for-cash entrepreneur trying to build a new business. With no money in her pockets, she instead puts in hard work to increase the value of her venture. That work is known as sweat equity.

The people who care for cats and advocate for humane policies every day are investing sweat equity into growing our movement to save cats’ lives. Most grassroots advocates don’t have financial capital to invest, and they don’t do what they do to get paid. In fact, they don’t get paid to do it at all.

But we and our community definitely benefit from the hours and heart we put in. Thanks to the tireless efforts of compassionate people, many Texas cities and counties have implemented innovative programs like Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) that protect cats and improve communities. Your sweat equity is creating positive social change that impacts us all.

The benefit is also very personal to each of us. When I helped that first family of cats I discovered in a DC alley back in 1990, I also helped change how the community valued their lives. For that, I felt proud and good in a way I could never type out on my resume.

Every Kitty, Every City TEXAS is about listening to the stories of advocates and learning what they need to keep putting in their own sweat equity. So I want to ask you: why do YOU help cats? What has been the return you’ve seen for your investment?