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Coffee & Canines: Q&A with Aaron Fisher of Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe
Ne[x]t Magazine spent a few minutes getting to know one of Georgia’s Own, Aaron Fisher. Aaron is not only a pet-lover and educator; he’s also the Founder and CEO of the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe, an animal welfare organization with a unique mission. Keep reading to learn more about Aaron’s work in the community and how you can get involved.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from New Jersey, but I’ve lived in Atlanta three separate times over 24 years. I first came here to attend Emory University, and something just kept calling me back. The changes I’ve seen over that time have been incredible.
What’s your favorite thing about the Atlanta area?
The food, art, and music scenes. The creativity of the residents. The individual character and charm of the neighborhoods. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing.
Could you tell us about the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe?
The idea behind Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe (ARDC) has been in the works for the past 12 years, but it wasn’t officially brought to fruition until last November. I taught elementary school for seven years and spent more than 12 years volunteering and working in animal welfare. ARDC was born from these experiences. My students were often too young to volunteer with animals (but really wanted to learn more about pets), yet no single organization was dedicated to educating the community about animal welfare. Our programs reach nearly 500 Atlanta students per month.
Despite so much good being accomplished for Atlanta’s pets, the number of animals entering area shelters continues to increase, as does the incidence of animal cruelty. Few local rescue groups have the personnel to offer the educational resources to prevent animals from entering shelters in the first place. Simply put, we’re not going to spay/neuter, shelter, or adopt our way out of the pet overpopulation problem. ARDC addresses the cause of these issues by offering programs that emphasize empathy, responsibility, education, and prevention.
Is the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe an actual dog cafe?
The word “cafe” is in the name for two reasons: 1) A cafe is where conversation happens, and we’re trying to generate conversation on what we, as a community, can do to promote positive human-pet relationships and prevent animals from entering shelters. 2) Our three-year goal is to have a non-profit coffee shop with a dedicated educational space for programs on animal welfare issues, and a senior dog sanctuary co-located on the premises.
What makes the ARDC different than other animal welfare organizations in the area?
We focus on the front-end (prevention side) of rescue so that we can—through education and outreach—help prevent pets from ever entering shelters. Imagine how great it would be if someone opened an animal shelter and there were no homeless pets to be turned in. That’s our goal.
What are some of the ways individuals can get involved with the ARDC?
We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the amazing support we receive from the community. There are so many ways for people to get involved with us: Teachers, scout leaders, librarians, youth group leaders, etc., can invite us to lead programs with their schools and organizations. Local businesses and companies can host us for team-building exercises, presentations, etc. Individuals and families can volunteer with us when we do outreach events. Invite us to lead a leash-making activity (our ‘One Leash Project’) with your group. The leashes get donated to police officers, rescue organizations, and are available for donations. Help us with fundraising campaigns and donation drives. The more money we raise, the more programs we can offer to more Atlantans.
What are some of the challenges you face running a non-profit? What keeps you motivated and makes it all worth it in the end?
There are many challenges, but that’s what also makes it fun. I’m learning something new every day. One day the focus could be on developing more programs, the next day I might have to concentrate on marketing and social media, and another day the focus might be on legal or financial issues. You have to become a mini-expert on multiple topics.
The important thing is to recognize that you don’t have to know everything. Seek out people who know more than you do. Reach out to them and ask for their advice and ideas. I’ve been lucky to have amazing support from family, friends, local businesses, and the community.
What is the biggest takeaway you hope people get from working with the Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe?
That participants in our programs feel more comfortable, confident, and safer around animals; that they know how to avoid getting bitten, and understand what they can do with their pets, such as microchipping, spaying/neutering, vaccinating, and making sure their pets always have collars with proper identification—all of which help prevent animals from winding up in shelters.
What advice do you have for readers who have similar dreams of establishing and running their own organizations?
Spend time volunteering or working in the field you want to go into. Learn as much as you can and ask lots of questions. Ask yourself, “Is there already an organization doing what I want to do?” If so, why are you looking to start a new one? Make sure that what you’re doing has something unique to offer. And don’t ever think that just because something doesn’t exist that there isn’t a need for it or that it’s already been tried. Finally, no one does anything alone. You’ll need the experience, expertise, and support of others.
Georgia’s Own and Ne[x]t Magazine are all about helping our members make smart financial decisions. With running a non-profit, you have to be disciplined about managing money. Any advice you’d like to share with our readers?
You have to be organized and stay on top of your finances. I quantify everything, not just our income and expenditures, but how many students our programs have reached, the number of volunteers we have, hours they’ve donated, the amount of climbing rope we’ve received for our ‘One Leash Project,’ etc. Finally, even though we’re a non-profit, we manage our finances wisely, as any good business should.
If we’re not taking in enough to cover our expenses, we can’t have the maximum impact, and our shelf life will be pretty short. We run it like a business, but as a non-profit, our mission drives what we do.
Learn how you can help at AtlantaRescueDogCafe.org
Your donation goes directly toward educational programs to help improve human-animal interactions, reduce the incidence of animal cruelty, and relieve the strain on overrun animal shelters.
Join Us Saturday, May 20th, 2017 in Alpharetta for Shred Day!
Join us for Shred Day, Saturday, May 20 th, 2017 at the Georgia’s Own Alpharetta Branch , located at 5825 Windward Parkway in Alpharetta. This year TWO shred trucks will be on site from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m to shred your personal documents for free (limited to 5 boxes/bags of personal documents per vehicle). We’ll also have refreshments and giveaways for the family to enjoy!
We hope to see you there!
Behind the Mic with Brian Moote
A recent transplant from Los Angeles, Brian made the move across the country to join The Bert Show, alongside show veterans Bert and Kristin, a little over a year ago.
We chatted with Brian about how he’s adjusting to life in Atlanta, his work on radio and on stage, and his unique talents. Find out how this once-aspiring bulldozer operator became a radio and comedy star.
How did you get your start in radio?
I got into radio while living in Los Angeles as a comedian. I was on the road and an opportunity opened up to audition in Seattle. I sent in some demos from various radio shows that I had done around the country while touring in radio, and the station liked it a lot so they offered me a cohost position on their new morning show. It was called “Mornings with Jackie, Marco and Moote” on Click 98.9 FM.
Was being in radio a childhood dream? What would you be doing if you weren’t in radio?
My dream as a child was to play professional basketball or be a bulldozer operator. My mom was less keen on the idea of me driving tractors. If I wasn’t in radio, I would be touring the country as a comedian or using my master’s degree in social work to help at-risk youth.
You moved across the country to join The Bert Show – what about the show convinced you to make the move?
Making the decision to move across the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta was a pretty easy one. The Bert Show is nationally known as a unique and cutting-edge morning show in Top 40 formats. It is rare to find a morning show that has as much talk time and story development as The Bert Show does. Joining the show was the right choice for me because it is a place in where I can both entertain people in the mornings, as well as learn about radio and grow as a personality.
What’s the biggest challenge working in radio?
Balancing all the things that I do for the show and my life outside the show. It can get difficult to put the right amount of effort into all areas of your life and not let something suffer. Like for me, I perform stand-up comedy 3 or 4 nights a week, which can make early mornings tough on my creative process for both comedy and radio.
What’s your favorite thing about The Bert Show?
My favorite thing is how many great listeners we have and getting to meet a lot of them when I am out and about in the community or at my comedy shows.
What’s been the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do thanks to The Bert Show?
Hands down, the coolest thing that I have been able to do as a member of The Bert Show is attending the Super Bowl, even though the game didn’t go the way that we wanted. It was a crazy experience going to all of the fancy parties and goofing around at the NFL Experience. The coolest part of the whole trip was that my brother and I did not have game tickets — we were basically just out there to experience the parties and the vibe of the weekend. When we got to a tailgate party at the stadium in Houston, we met Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s security staff who he sent out to the game. We told them that we didn’t actually have tickets and they contacted Arthur and got two single tickets for us. They were all amazing people.
If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?
Hmmm… That’s an interesting question. I am not a big fan of most interviews. They are difficult to do because our job is to get the person to say something interesting that nobody has heard and it’s their job to basically say nothing and promote something. I think if I had the option to interview anybody, I would go with Barack Obama right now. I feel like since he’s out of office now, you might actually get some good answers about what he actually thinks.
What’s a typical day in the life of Brian Moote like?
A typical day for me begins about 4:30am, and I head to the station at 5am. We have the show from 5:45am to 10am, and then I have to get into post-show stuff, like meetings, cutting commercial spots, preparing material for the next day, etc. I generally get out of the station around 12pm and I head home to take my dog Moxie (little Chihuahua mix) out for a walk, and then I get a nap in for an hour or so. Naps are huge for me because I generally do stand-up at night. At about 2pm or 3pm, I try to get some exercise in, sometimes a long run, or a workout class in the area. In the afternoon, I end up working on radio and comedy things for a couple hours and then about 7pm, I head to one of the comedy clubs in the city and work on some jokes.
How did you get into comedy? Is it hard to balance your comedy career with your radio career?
I got into comedy after I got out of college and moved back to Seattle to teach Special Ed. My mom had always told me to do comedy because I was a good storyteller. I was incredibly nervous to go on stage for the first time because I have always hated public speaking. After that, I kept getting on stage every night for the next few years and eventually started getting paid to do it. The balance between stand-up and radio is difficult. One reason is that the hours are opposite, so you’re basically living your life in a split shift with sleep in between. For me, it is really important to devote time to both individually, in terms of developing material. There is some crossover in both, but it’s important to approach them separately because the style of delivery is different. I try to devote an hour a day to stand-up writing and other stand-up projects completely outside of The Bert Show.
Which comedians influence you the most?
The comedian that inspires me the most is Bill Burr. His style and material, I relate to pretty well. He likes to take stories from his life and tough social topics and turn them into jokes, which I respect. He is actually the reason that I went to Boston instead of NYC for graduate school and comedy. He told me it was a city that would really help you find your comedic voice and he was correct.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your comedy?
It sounds cliché, but I get my material from my life and the world around me. Generally, all of the things that I talk about on stage come from an experience I had or thought about. Of course, the jokes get ridiculous because I embellish on them and add new aspects. The one thing for me is that I have to relate to the material or I find it boring. I am not a huge fan of just jokes for joke’s sake. I still write those types of jokes for social media, but they usually don’t make the cut for my onstage act.
You’ve previously worked in special education and with at-risk youth – is that something you’re still involved with?
I am still involved with a lot of organizations that not only work with special needs and at-risk youth, but a variety of causes in the greater Atlanta area. At this point in my career, I mainly work with helping organizations raise money and awareness for their cause. If people want to either get involved with non-profits, or have a non-profit that they want me to help out with, the best way to get in touch with me is through e-mail or on social media.
How are you adjusting to life in Atlanta? What’s your favorite thing to do in the city?
I love Atlanta so far, it’s a city with a ton of fun neighborhoods. My favorite thing to do here is explore since I am new to the city. I really enjoy riding my bike or jogging around exploring.
It’s no secret Georgia’s Own and Ne[x]t are all about making smart financial choices. Why do you think it’s so important for the younger generation to learn about managing money?
I think that it’s huge for young folks to manage their money because I think a lot of the financial resources that older generations have are starting to dry up and I think that it is important to plan for your future independently so you don’t have to depend on other programs.
Do you have any tips or tricks to help keep your finances in check?
The only tip that I have is not to ignore things. It can get too easy to just ignore your finances when you get stressed out by life. I let a student loan go into default when I was 23, and it took me a few years to get back on track and organized.
Just for fun – what is one thing about you that many people might not know?
I can juggle and ride a unicycle. I learned how to do those things when I was a clown in 4-H in third grade. Yes, that is right, I was a clown in 4-H and I dressed up as a hobo clown and walked around the Island County Fair entertaining people.
Listen to Brian live on The Bert Show on Q100 every weekday morning from 5:30 – 10:00 or connect with him on Facebook (@MooteComedy) and Twitter (@MootePoints).
RiseUp with an Inexpensive Super Bowl Party
Super Bowl LI is coming up this Sunday! With our hometown Atlanta Falcons making it to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years, all eyes in Georgia are sure to be watching the big game. If you’re wanting to throw an inexpensive Super Bowl party to watch with your friends, we know it can be hard work and has the potential to get pricey! But don’t worry, we can help you entertain your friends while making it easy for you and a bit easier on the wallet with a few tips.
Crockpot. Keep it easy and affordable by throwing something in the slow cooker. Soup or chili is a great game day food. Plus it can feed a lot of people and it’s relatively inexpensive.
Make it a team effort. If you’re hosting, it’s okay for you to ask your guests to bring their favorite dish or beverage. After all, you’re the one who has spent time cleaning and are letting people come into your home. Don’t nominate yourself to be in charge of everything!
Buy generic. Name brand chips and sodas are expensive, especially if you’re buying in large quantities. Opt for the store brands to save a few dollars!
Skip Decorations. Sure decorations are a nice addition, but instead of bothering with spending money on something that will likely get thrown away immediately after the game, leave them off the list. Plus it’s one less thing you’ll have to clean up post-game.
Seating. If you think you might be a little short on seating, ask your guests to bring a fold-up or tailgate chair with them. Or if you have multiple rooms with TVs, set both of them up.
Backyard Football. If you have an active group, split into two teams and have a little backyard football game. It’s an easy way to pass some time before the game. Involve the kids as well so they can burn off some energy!
Don’t let the thought of an expensive party keep you from enjoying the game with friends. Especially since our hometown team will be playing! Here’s a little something extra to get you ready for Sunday. Enjoy the game and Go Falcons! #RiseUp