I was having breakfast with my friend, Monica, when she told me about a book she was reading called Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux. The “Sally’s” referenced in the title was actually not a diner or restaurant, but the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen. Richard LeMieux’s story chronicled his life living in his van with his dog Willow after losing his home, family, and life.

What intrigued me even further than the inspirational quality of this story was the fact that Monica told me Richard LeMieux was originally from Urbana, Ohio. Having grown up in Mechanicsburg, Urbana was the next town over, the “bigger town” where we went to eat at Pizza Hut or shop at KMart. My husband, Joe, worked in Urbana for many years as a pharmacist in Wal-Mart. I knew Urbana well.

Visiting the web site for Breakfast at Sally’s, I discovered that LeMieux was indeed a native of Urbana, Ohio where he attended Urbana University (I have many friends who attended UU–Joe’s brother even went there), and worked as a sports writer in nearby Springfield at the Springfield Sun newspaper. His homeless stint was not in Ohio, however, but in Bremerton, Washington where he had lived since 1981, working as a publisher until he lost everything.

This link to a town I knew led me on a quest to acquire the book and read it.

And I was not disappointed.

While the book does have many sad moments, it is a very positive book about the value of all human beings and animals, as well as the value of hope. Richard LeMieux was on a bridge, contemplating suicide, but could not force himself to do it, because he feared what would happen to Willow. That is the power of unconditional love, of animals in our lives. When no one else will see your value or love you, a dog or a cat will.

My friend, Monica, helps at the Vineyard Church in Plain City the last Sunday of each month. Through our collections with the Pet Pantry, she takes dog and cat food to distribute to the many people who come seeking a meal or basic care items such as tooth paste and soap. She said they always run out of pet food and she has watched people cry knowing they will be able to feed their beloved fuzzy friends.

There are many people who call me looking for a bag of cat or dog food–just enough to get them through another meal so their animal companion will not be hungry. After reading Breakfast at Sally’s, I will try even harder to make life a little easier for people (and their animals) who may be on a journey I would never hope to travel.

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