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ROLDA President Message 2015

Buffy is one of the thousands of dogs that ROLDA helped since we begin our rescue mission in Romania. Next year we’ll celebrate 10 years since we are incorporated as a charity in the USA but also in Romania, a country where, for the record, rescue activity started long before 2006.

ROLDA President Message 2015

Buffy is one of the 918 saved by ROLDA in 2015.

Buffy is a small lucky doggy. After losing his eye, the surgery went well and his condition stabilized. Our staff is currently preparing Buffy to fly soon to Switzerland, where she will be adopted by a well-known family of watchmakers.

What an amazing future waits for Buffy to discover! Buffy is one of the thousands of dogs that ROLDA helped since we begin our rescue mission in Romania. Next year we’ll celebrate 10 years since we are incorporated as a charity in the USA but also in Romania, a country where, for the record, rescue activity started long before 2006.

The year 2007 was a turning point for ROLDA and its projects but also for me, Dana. It was the moment when I had the proof that a dream, no matter how ambitious or how “impossible” sounds, can become reality and the most important ingredient for this to happen is to believe in yourself, to choose the dream you wish to believe into, to invest your energy and time into that dream and to be persuasive. No big dreams are going to be fulfilled overnight!

In 2003, ROLDA built a small shelter in the village of Smardan, located in the southeast of Romania. Our activity was in direct proportion to our income. But my dreams were bigger (they always are). I hardly have time to stop and be happy with one achievement because my mind already projects plans for the future. In a way, this is my secret recipe for feeling that I am alive.

I am a perfectionist. I consider things done with half measure a waste of time. I prefer quality versus quantity but also like to think globally, to think big because I have high expectations from myself. The newsletters I write must be the best; the shelters that ROLDA owns should keep the highest possible standards and be competitive by European standards.

In 2007, the local steel company’s director phoned me and asked for a meeting. The steel plant (one of the largest steel plants in the World) wanted to work with a charity to solve humanely the strays’ problem. I presented my thoughts, on the ROLDA plan but I also had the power to impose a strict no-kill policy which was followed every day, from the moment our collaboration started.

Considering the numerous slaughters that take place across Romania, considering the amount that steel plants invested (and continue to invest) in this collaboration – private corporation funds invested for a no-killing mission, considering the mutual respect and trust that comes from both sides (from ROLDA and from AMG) I think ROLDA has a lot of reasons to be proud!

Every beginning is complicated and uncertain. Of course, some things could have been done differently from the start. At that time, I knew less about how to work with people, and how to develop a large shelter’s management policy. I learn everything that I know now by following my instincts, by thinking like in chess play- two moves ahead, sometimes by also…improvising.

Working with and trusting people are by far the biggest challenges I have to deal with. But how someone can follow the charity’ related (big) dreams not working with people?! Charity is all related to people from organizational details to sponsors and supporters.

Years ago, I had an unpleasant personal and professional experience with a former partner that stole ROLDA’s contacts list and money from our “common” account. Finding the wrong people to work with is a problem that happened (and continues to happen) to many charities. It happens on occasion to us, too. The trick is to learn your lesson, keep close to the people you can really count on and move on. Life is too short to stop dreaming, to stop taking action for what you care about!

My parents sustained this dream, they always encouraged and motivated me. They invested all their savings into ROLDA and today, our records show that this amount is over 50,000 EUR Of course, not the entire amount at once, but during the most difficult moments, when a parent’s presence is the most needed!

It started like a child’s dream, thanks to my parent’s support, which initially made everything possible, continuing with the steel plant corporate support, and grew to the extent where we find ourselves today. But jumping from small or bigger steps, one thing I learn to always keep in mind: the ROLDA supporters are the ones that make everything possible.

I started ROLDA in my 20’s and now in my 30’s, I am still here, creating, hoping, and dreaming. Where else I could be? I am always in search of ways to improve ROLDA and one thing that I plan to continue improving is how to make this charity be truly outstanding and unique.

Located in an extremely poor area of Romania, ROLDA was meant to exist not only to save the animals, which is a pretty noble mission itself but also to change animal’s and people’s lives, to change the community’ mentality.

How you can create, run and promote a charity among thousands of already powerful charities? Creating a charity is the easiest step. To run it, you need funding. People perceive you as a charity but in reality, you have to be a charity and a business at the same time.

And assuming you can handle cash flow…Promote it…to put your charity in light among other very competitive and well-known charities with the same goals that are the real challenge! Did I mention how much I like challenges? And above all, winning…who doesn’t like winning?!

I find the force that keeps me going in various things. One thing, as you would expect, is the moment we are able to completely heal a very injured animal. Or the moment when a frightened, scared dog trusts again people and becomes someone’s pet. I often ask – will an adopted dog will remember me if we’ll ever meet again in this life?

One thing that gives me the power to continue and motivates me to be better is the enemies’ hate. Since our collaboration with the steel plant started, we have had an increased number of vicious and crazy enemies. Their hate is part of the fuel that makes me stronger. Do not forget! YOU are the power that made these accomplishments happen! And we at ROLDA are grateful to you for that!

Every new life saved, every new puppy that grew up healthy and sociable, every dog rehabilitated and adopted out, every new project accomplished, new building completed. We shared moments of terror, when there was no future for millions of street dogs was uncertain or dark. We shared moments of joy when we defeated the distance and the time (and all the other obstacles) and felt, together, our hearts beating the same. Feeling the “humane” side of us is really unique!

One approach that makes ROLDA really unique is the branches that our charity has all over the World. We currently are incorporated officially in the USA, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, the UK and of course Romania. This year, we decided to stop expanding, to give time to the current branches to grow in strength.

Finding people to run these branches is a therapy for my past experiences with human beings, some as I previously said completely wrong but some, good experiences from which I learn and transformed myself into who I am today.

I noticed a trend among some animal charity directors to show their weaknesses (in very carefully selected words) to win people’s sympathy. I will not use such a dramatic, marketing strategy. I will not tell you a story about how naive I was, how fragile from an emotional point of view I was…because I am strong, and determined, as a leader should be! I feel responsible for the paid job of 15 people and for the life of hundreds of rescue dogs. Telling you how fragile I am at the same time would be ridiculous and a lie.

I do not want to win your pity, your sympathy, and eventually your support by lying to you and/or telling you what you would like to hear or what studies show that you might be touched about. I always said what I was thinking, regardless of the consequences, or the number of new enemies I would turn against me.

I have reasons to believe that ROLDA supporters are educated, smart and sensitive and share our goals and general vision. Even if ROLDA looks like one woman shows charity, there are many women and men behind every ROLDA accomplishment, both physically working or using their minds to create, improve, upgrade, and evolve.

ROLDA supporters are not a special category but a part of this charity’s accomplishments and projects for the future. Each and every step that represents ROLDA’s past was done because you contributed; you placed a brick in our strong foundation. And if myself and my team are fortunate, you will be here for ROLDA’s future!

Thank you for another great year spent together helping Romanian animals!
With hopes,
Dana Costin
Founder ROLDA

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