Major demolition started this week on the old Daily Iberian building at the corner of N. Lewis and Main Streets. Keeping a photo journal of the moving process, I stopped by Monday in the rain to grab shots of the first day. More importantly, I found three kittens the construction guys located in the rain. Generations of feral cats lived at the corner and the staff knew with the changes coming, they would scatter. Since we moved out in August, no one knew the litter was born about a week ago. The demolition crew hadn’t seen momma since they started prepping over the weekend. Colder nights had been predicted to arrive Monday and I couldn’t leave those babies alone, wet, scared and hungry.

Thanks to assistance from Angel Paws, a willing vet’s office staff and the Iberia Parish Animal Shelter, I was able to learn about caring for kittens at that young age. My previous experience with kittens that age relied on the care and feeding of the mother. Not this time. These babies needed help.

A visit with Sonia Tauzin, shelter manager at Iberia Parish Rabies Control, I learned a few things. The shelter had kittens to cats of all ages, sizes and breeds waiting for adoption at the shelter, along with twin beagles that just wanted attention — real bad — and some other dogs waiting for the desire to arise in prospective pet owners, dogs or cats. However, until they are adopted, the staff at the shelter, as well as the Angel Paws facility, can always use some help with basic supplies. A list is provided online for anyone wanting to donate specifics. Cash or gift cards can be of good use as well. And by the way, Rascal and Bandit weren’t too sure what was going on in our house with those screaming babies, but they behaved and were real glad when everyone went to bed, including them in their usual spots near me.

More Than Kittens

It sometimes seems people are more concerned with animal needs than families unable to make ends meet with weekly food budgeting. It’s not easy to admit to the need for help as I learned earlier in my life while living in Nashville. I was between entertainment jobs or projects and was working part time at a Europeon bread bakery, the first in the area to open during the early 1990s. Fortunately, every night our surplus was thrown away which I quickly started packing up to take home.

It was the greatest of fare. Fresh roasted pork backstrap and a harvest of fresh vegetables from sandwiches that had no condiments pre-added, and were not purchased. Fresh and clean, the quality was top notch. Also the pastries and bread were mine for the taking. Fresh creamery butter, fine special flours, eggs, not additives — I actually lost 35 pounds eating these fine pastries and leftovers, to my delight.

At the same time, as a service to my church, I volunteered to feed the homeless and work the food pantry. The woman in charge knew I was strapped for cash. There was always plenty of food at lunch and she made sure I took something home. But when push came to shove, and I didn’t have things I needed besides those precious gifts from the bakery, I was embarrassed to ask for help. My friend knew that and encouraged me to come anyway. I didn’t go often before I was back on my feet, but the first time I did, there was a jar of capers and two or three other items that were just what I had been craving. “God knew,” my friend said. The pantry workers had been wondering why someone donated the rare item — capers — to a food pantry, and were so happy to see someone choose the bottle from the shelf.

Something Anyone Can Cook

I share that story today, and the need for kitten adoption or foster care (a great 4-H project by the way), because Thursday night is the second annual Solomon House from the pantry cookoff fundraiser. This year four chefs, Walter Voorhies, Davis Landry, William Kyle and Jennifer Schwing, will pit their culinary skills by selecting items regularlly available at Solomon House. This year the “twist” ingredient is corn, due to a surplus supply. Mike Dardant, the Cajun Comedian, will entertain, plus door prizes and a silent auction to help the nonprofit financially. As for canned goods, patrons are always welcome to bring items such as canned vegetables, cereal or breakfast items and red beans. Rice is in good shape.

This year’s sponsors are Caring Touch Home Care and Bo Duhe District Attorney Community Fund. Restaurant gift certificates, AirB&B, floweers artwork and more will be on the auction table. Solomon House board president Brendaline Etienne said ticket holders will also vote on the trophy winner for the canned goods sculture contest. New Iberia Senior High and Episcopal School of Acadiana have designed something spectacular to win the first trophy for this event that doubles as a way of adding to the Solomon House coffers.

Give generously, you never know who needs a hand up to higher ground.

VICKY BRANTON is the Teche Life editor at The Daily Iberian.

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