by Jenn Bradford
It takes a lot of effort and passion to begin a nonprofit organization, and even more if the organization forms during a crisis. Annie and Millie’s Place opened in January 2021 amid the social and economic turmoil of the pandemic. Founder Kristen Baltrum knew her organization was needed in Boulder County at that time for two reasons. First, Annie and Millie’s Place was founded to honor the memory of Kristen’s sister, Annie, who had recently died. Second, Kristen knew from her research that the human-animal bond is a great benefit to people particularly during a period of crisis.
Annie and her dog, Millie, experienced homelessness. After Annie passed, Kristen asked herself, “What could have changed Annie’s story?” Though Annie had no place to live, she would not give up her dog who was her support, her family. Millie was one very positive part of Annie’s life. Kristen thought that if Annie had been able to find shelter and resources for herself and Millie, that could have made a difference. “We are all about keeping the people and the pet together. The human-animal bond is the foundation for the work that we do,” explains Kristen.
In less than three years, Annie and Millie’s Place created partnerships with other organizations, and developed and implemented many programs to help people with pets in Boulder County experiencing homelessness. Annie and Millie’s Place and their partner organizations offer free veterinary clinics throughout the year, they cover the costs of emergency veterinary care, and they are working to add shelter space for owned animals who need temporary foster care. They also provide pet supplies and accessories and are redeveloping a doggie day care program.
Kristen says, “In Togetherness,” or being in partnership with, is in everything Annie and Millie’s Place does. They work with other nonprofit organizations and businesses to fulfill their mission. Kristen stated, “[The model of] one nonprofit helping the other nonprofit do their best work” is what launched her organization and allowed them to begin serving the community.
Because of these partnerships, Kristen says that within five months of opening, she found herself telling her story to a national audience and speaking with experts and leaders in the sector. This high profile enabled Annie and Millie’s Place to secure funding. The challenge now is to keep up the momentum. Annie and Millie’s Place’s goal is “to create a safe and secure overnight shelter for people and their animals,” according to Kristen. To do that requires infrastructure and expertise.
So far, SVP Boulder County has provided some expertise in the form of Board training. “The training was really helpful for that new member to be able to come in and really get a sense of what it means to be a board member and what their responsibilities are,” Kristen says. She continues, “[it] helped us to really structure around some best practices.” Now, Annie and Millie’s Place looks to expand and build a shelter to keep people and their animals together.
If you would like to help Annie and Millie’s Place, you can find their amazon wish list or other methods for donations on their website. You can also help by volunteering at events or by volunteering your expertise in people, animals, or business organizations. If you are interested, contact Kristen Baltrum firstname.lastname@example.org.