When tragedy strikes, it can be hard for a family and community to recover. But sometimes, tragedy can inspire changes for the better. This was the case for the Long family who lost their recent high school graduate, Molly, in 1998. Following this loss, Molly’s sister Julia began The Love Molly Fund.
“I started The Love Molly Fund as a way to honor her,” said Julia Long, owner of The Purple Cat and president of The Love Molly Fund. “It started with me and a couple of friends raising a little money and donating it out every year. It was real small scale.”
As time went on priorities shifted and The Love Molly Fund was put on the back burner. After a recent move to Houston, Julia immediately noticed the outstanding number of homeless dogs living on the city streets, and the incredible number of dogs being put down in shelters every day.
“With all this in mind, I was driving along and found a momma dog on the street. Long story short, two weeks after trailing her we were finally able to catch her and her puppies,” said Long. “And then it became more of me independently talking to people and learning how to independently rescue. I wanted to take charge and put it on myself, rather than on another organization who may just put the animal down.”
After rescuing this canine family, Julia decided to bring The Love Molly Fund back to the center stage and has transformed it into both a fundraising and rescue/ adoption organization.
The Purple Cat, a thrift store located at 2128 W. 34th St., came later as means to raise money for The Love Molly Fund, as well as other animal rescue groups.
“Once a month we usually feature a dog or organization we want to raise money for. The volunteers bring stuff into the store, we sell the stuff and then we give the featured dog or group all of the money,” said Long. “That’s how we give back right now until we get big enough that we can really start donating a chunk of our profits.”
As with The Love Molly Fund, The Purple Cat name was also inspired by a family member.
“When I was five, my mom picked me up from school and my sister was in the car. They had gone and adopted two kittens from the pound,” said Long. “We got to name them. I named mine Purple Shooting Star and Molly named hers Violet, because of course she’s my little sister.”
While Long was seeking a name for her store, a friend suggested to name it something to do with the purple cat. Long thought it a perfect idea to name her store after her very first rescue animal and longtime friend.
The Love Molly Fund and The Purple Cat have grown significantly from the initial street rescue Long made when she first arrived to Houston. However, the entire organization is run by Long and her team of volunteers, making available space limited.
“Sometimes we can’t do anything and sometimes we can. It just depends on the situation,” said Long. “Some people come to us, wanting us to take animals but we don’t do that, because it’s just me taking them in.”
All of the dogs rescued by Long that have yet to be adopted are either in foster care or in boarding.
“Our goal is to have the store grow and eventually become an organization that solely fundraises for street rescue groups so they can get more dogs off the streets and into homes,” said Long. “Further, our goal here is to educate, even at the store. We want to educate people about spay, neuter, and vaccinations, and to be able to give them resources for a place to go.”
The biggest need The Love Molly Fund has is adoptions. Long looks for adoptions from locals in particular as the dogs were all rescued from this area. The Purple Cat is also always in need of volunteers. Long says the best volunteers are those who are self-motivated and enjoy organizing. The biggest obstacle for The Purple Cat right now is not having enough volunteers to stay open during the evening. Long says that being a volunteer at The Purple Cat is much more than work, however.
“Our volunteers have a great time, we crank up the music and dance through the halls and tell silly jokes; it’s a nice place to be every day,” said Long. “Finding joy in that really helps me foster so many animals and deal with the heartbreak of having a dog returned or whatever it may be.”
In memory of those lost, and in hope for those wandering, The Purple Cat and The Love Molly Fund are working to create a better Houston and a better world for humans and animals alike.
If you are interested in adopting or fostering a dog, or in giving a few hours to volunteer, please visit www.thelovemollyfund.org or www.thepurplecatresale.com to contact Julia Long or to fill out an adoption/foster application.