Hartford community cats have a friend in Willie Ortiz. The 75 year old resident has been taking care of Hartford’s stray cats for approximately 21 years, he’s estimated. It is something he loves, and feels strongly about. The cats have no home, no love, no food and no medical attention. He made it his mission to do what he could to care for them and has kept his promise all these years, though it began getting harder, due to the costs of the care for so many cats. Now, Ortiz has all the help he never thought he would have, all in thanks to a friend of his, and an online fundraiser posting.
Ortiz takes his nightly trip around Hartford, feeding the strays and gathering up the ones he knows need to be spayed or neutered. He has been a true hero and savior to these cats. His story has appeared in the Courant, in the past, but it wasn’t until a friend of Ortiz’s set up a GoFunMe page, that things took an unexpected turn and his story went viral.
Kathleen Schlentz decided she wanted to help her friend, Ortiz, so she recently set up the fundraiser account. In the beginning, she said, the money just trickled in with little bits here and there being donated. It was nice of those who donated, but it wasn’t much when you think of how many cats need food and care. When she set up the account, she set the fundraising goal for $5,000, not even really expecting they might see that much, however, it wasn’t long until they realized how much people do care about animals, and they reached well over their $5,000 goal.
One donor asked Schlentz if she would mind if a posting about Ortiz’s story was made on Reddit, a site Schlentz wasn’t familiar with, but she agreed to let the donor post the story on Reddit, thinking that any bit of help was welcomed. Once the posting was made, almost overnight, the donations flooded in, jumping the their donations up to nearly tenfold than it had been. And the donations weren’t just from locals; people from around the world; Germany, Portugal and India were donating money for Ortiz’s cats. Schlentz was so blown away that she contacted Ortiz immediately, who was almost in tears at the news.
At first, Ortiz was a little apprehensive to spend any of the money on anything other than just the cats, but Schlentz convinced him that he needed to invest in a new truck to help him continue his work. His old truck was near it’s end, having issues that caused him to have to fill the radiator every time he stopped to take care of the cats. It is his main transportation to get around to the cats and without a truck, he wouldn’t be able to do what he’s doing. His plans for what he doesn’t use of the $26,000 for the cats is to put it into a savings for the future of the cats. His family already knows that they have special instructions to continue his work with the cats after he’s gone, and now he has money to leave them to help them continue on.
Ortiz says that he loves what he does and is going to continue his work feeding the strays, until the day he dies. And now he has the money to do just that.