For the past 18 years, Basic Rights Oregon has partnered with local restaurants, bars, cafes, and bakeries to raise money for LGBTQ equality. On June 22, local business owners pledge a portion of their proceeds to help further Basic Rights’ work. Now, for the first time ever, we’re partnering with a store that caters to the furry members of our family – the raw food shop Meat for Cats and Dogs, located on East Burnside.
Founded 12 years ago, Heidi Liedeker originally began Meat to help provide better options to pet owners looking for healthier diet options. The store quickly transformed into a local institution.
“It’s more of a community store than a pet supply store,” Heidi says. “Sometimes people come in to troubleshoot an issue before going to the vet, or just talk about whatever is on their minds.”
For Heidi, giving back to the community also means funding causes near and dear to her heart. During the past 12 years, she’s donated to a number of local animal welfare organizations. In recent years, she’s also supported organizations like the ACLU of Oregon and Planned Parenthood.
“If something happens in the news one day, we’ll come into work thinking, ‘okay, who can we donate to?’ Then we’ll set aside 10 percent of sales for that day.” For weeks after the election, Heidi says, the store donated to a different group every day.
She’s also worked hard to provide a welcoming environment for her LGBTQ staff, ensuring they have access to the healthcare and the other benefits they need. One of her employees, Kaig Lightner, was the star of a recent viral video. As a youth soccer coach, he thought it was important to come out to his team as transgender – to provide a positive role model and to answer questions for those who wanted to learn more. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the team and their parents alike.
“I’ve never put anything like that on Facebook before,” Kaig says. “I’ve gotten tons of messages from people all over the world telling me how inspired they are by my work with kids.”
Working part-time at Meat allows Kaig the freedom to run his fledgling nonprofit, the Portland Community Football Club. The first completely LGBTQ-inclusive soccer club in the city, Kaig’s hope is to allow children from all walks of life the opportunity to participate in sports – particularly those from underprivileged communities who might not normally be able to afford it.
Kaig isn’t the only employee using his work at Meat to help support his dreams. Some of Heidi’s other employees make pet treats and other products that are sold in the shop and online.
When you shop at Meat for Cats and Dogs on June 22, you won’t just be supporting Basic Rights. You’ll also be empowering local LGBTQ entrepreneurs and supporting an institution with deep roots in the community. We’re not sure exactly what surprises Heidi has in store for her customers to celebrate pride this month, but we can guarantee visitors won’t leave disappointed!
On June 22, we encourage all of our supporters to pay Heidi and her staff a visit and pick up a special treat for the cat or dog in your life. If you’d like to treat some of your favorite humans, too, you can view a complete list of participating locations on our website. With nearly 100 options to choose from, we think you’ll find something to suit every taste.