Located in St. Petersburg, FL, SOAR is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (EIN: 47-4968915) founded by Executive Director, Stephen Bennett, on October 16, 2015; and, began operations on November 1, 2015.
The primary goal of SOAR is to raise funds and awareness of animal abuse and neglect. We do this by providing food and supplies to rescue organizations and individuals in need of help for the well-being of their pets. SOAR is not only dedicated to domestic animals; but, also, to our precious sea life such as dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, sea birds, fish and wildlife. Additionally, we educate the public on the many needs and the suffering of animals and sea life; and, teach them how it can be prevented through community involvement. SOAR supports and provides services for Florida’s Suncoast including St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, Tampa and Hillsborough County, as well as Bradenton, Sarasota, Brandon, and Ruskin.
The first goal of SOAR was to raise funds to open a “pet food bank” in St. Petersburg, FL for those in need. That goal was achieved with the opening of SOAR’s first “mini pet food bank,” on June 1, 2019, inside Daystar Life Center in St. Petersburg, FL. Daystar provides many types of services to thousands of people a year; and, now, they can add “pet food and supplies” to their ever-growing list of available services so individuals and families won’t have to give up their pets during times of financial struggle.
Fundraising efforts continue so SOAR can open a main office. Not only will this office function as our headquarters, it will also maintain a “pet food bank” that will be available to ALL residents in the Tampa Bay area who are in need of pet food and pet supplies. We will offer volunteer training services and other services for area rescues and individuals in need. Additionally, working with people of all ages – including children – future programs will be identified, developed, managed, and maintained from SOAR’s headquarters as we believe community involvement is a key component to our success and, more importantly, to the livelihood and success of our community.
In 2016, SOAR partnered with the non-profit Keep Pinellas Beautiful. With their help, SOAR and our volunteers organized many area beach clean-up events resulting in thousands of pounds of trash and recyclables being hauled away from our beaches. This event gave SOAR the needed knowledge and tools to plan our own beach and community clean-up events, while still partnering with Keep Pinellas Beautiful. Not only did SOAR learn at this event, the new-found knowledge has allowed us to educate our citizens on the importance our precious sea life plays in keeping our ecosystems healthy and thriving.
Since SOAR’s inception, we have helped many rescue organizations – large and small – as well as individuals by partnering with local businesses to send pet food, pet supplies, and funds to areas hit by natural disasters including Houston, Miami, the Carolinas, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico. Recently, SOAR helped to coordinate the provision of four tons of pet/animal food and supplies, including funding the truck and fuel, that was sent to Florida’s Panhandle which was devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018. The Panhandle will be an on-going effort, and focus for SOAR, as 1,000+ horses and thousands of dogs and cats were deserted and left behind after the hurricane.
SOAR is also available for individuals who have fallen on hard times such as war veterans, single parents, struggling families, and others to provide assistance so they do not have to make the difficult decision of surrendering their beloved pets to a shelter, where many are euthanized, because of the financial strain. Our services provide that lifeline, providing peace of mind, and lifting that burden. Reducing pet over-population is another high priority for SOAR; and, we hope to not only set an example, but BE the example, for other cities and states, nationwide.
In March 2019, SOAR was humbled and honored to be asked to join St. Pete PAWS which puts the City of St. Petersburg’s pet-friendly proclamation into action. St. Pete PAWS’s goal is to enhance and expand the City’s “paw print” with projects and education that promote happy and healthy pets who are welcome in shelters, homes, businesses, and parks. St. Pete PAWS stems from MARS’s Better Cities for Pets initiative for cities to adapt to Americans’ expectations that their pets not only can live with them, but also work and play.
SOAR will be spearheading many and various types of fundraising campaigns in the coming months and years to help us be self-sustaining and to increase the numbers of those we assist. SOAR’s future plans include opening additional “pet food banks” in surrounding areas as well as implementing programs in area schools so we can educate and enlist children, of all ages, to get involved in their communities … after all, SOAR is a community-based organization!
We hope you will follow SOAR and get involved whenever and however you can. As we all know, individuals can make a difference. And, when we have a lot of individuals focused on a cause, we can make a greater difference as we all know there is great power and influence in numbers. It makes a difference for those without a voice: Suffering animals, sea life, and wildlife that need our support and protection.