What will your reason for joining be?

Below you’ll find the stories of a few of our members.


Photo of founding member Darlene Banta

Darlene Banta, Founding Member

I live in Fort Collins, CO and love exploring the front range and Rocky Mountains through hiking, trail running, skiing and snowshoeing. I also love to cook and eat, so I need to make sure to work out enough to keep my eating in check ;) I have an Australian Shepherd puppy who is just starting to join me on the adventures. The only thing I dislike about living in Fort Collins is the lack of ocean access; I love sitting on the beach with a good book, walking along the coastline, and riding the waves ashore.

I joined the Poverty Busters giving circle because…

the idea of empowering people to improve their lives sounded really appealing. Driving home from work I often see people begging along the exit ramps of the interstate and I never donate with the idea that I would much rather donate to an organization that enables people to improve their lives themselves. This giving circle allows me to do that. I love talking with this great group of people each month and making educated choices, collectively, about where to donate our money. Because of this change gang, I know that my money is going to an organization that will use the it judiciously towards ending poverty


Photo of Gail Banta

Gail Banta, Member

I am the parent of 3 doggies who are currently defining my activities at this point. We all participate in agility training and currently my two spaniels are competing. The baby (an Aussie and the biggest one) is just about ready to start competing. Both spaniels have achieved some level of success in AKC and have titles.

I’ve always been interested in animal issues and was delighted to join a group (a gang) that feels the same way. I have limited funds available and felt my small amount was hardly worth the effort. But the “gang” group pooling their resources appeals to me because then I feel like I am making a difference. I have volunteered for rescue situations, most recently a hoarding situation in Rockland County NY. I took a shift taking care of the numerous shelties that were confiscated from an older person who could no longer care for the 25 dogs she had.

I am currently the only New Jersey resident involved but hope to change that soon!!!! So if you are thinking of joining our gang, please do; it is a great way to get involved

I joined the Poverty Busters giving circle because…

I joined the the poverty busters giving group because we have been incredibly blessed throughout my life with enough food to eat, the ability to work and earn enough to raise our two children, education them and see them blossom into wonderful caring adults. I would like to help in even a small way others to have the opportunity to succeed as well.

I joined the People With Compassion for Pets giving circle because…

I’ve always been interested in animal issues and was delighted to join a group (a gang) that feels the same way. I have limited funds available and felt my small amount was hardly worth the effort. But the “gang” group pooling their resources appeals to me because then I feel like I am making a difference. I have volunteered for rescue situations, most recently a hoarding situation in Rockland County NY. I took a shift taking care of the numerous shelties that were confiscated from an older person who could no longer care for the 25 dogs she had.


Photo of member Cathie Capobianco

Cathie Capobianco, Member

I am a mother of two children and I have two grandchildren who I adore. I am also blessed with an amazing extended family. I grew up with seven brothers and sisters. We were pretty poor, but we were taught to care and think about others. We had a wonderful kind Mother who taught us how to treat others. This is the greatest gift of all.

On a personal note, I like to write, paint, hike, walk, ride a bike, swim, and anything you can do outdoors. I would actually live in a tree house if I could figure that out. I would prefer to live in the jungle, although that would be rather dangerous. Maybe someday!!

I joined the Poverty Busters giving circle because…

My niece Sharon Lipinski started Chang Gangs about a year ago, and I signed up because I believe in her mission. What a great way to belong to something you can trust with family and friends, as well as getting to know others across the pond.. It is wonderful being part of and making a difference to those less fortunate.


Photo of Julia Lipinski, Member

Julia Lipinski, Member

I am originally from New York, but have lived in Colorado for 35 years. I have 2 beautiful daughters whom I am very proud of. I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible. Also, I am very drawn to water: lakes, rivers and especially the ocean. Music is a passion of mine and I love listening to live music outdoors in the summertime. My work travels with me (gotta love the internet), so I have lots of freedom to travel.

I joined the Poverty Busters giving circle because…

Like most, I have always given to different organizations and charities. With Change Gangs, I find that by having an organization nominated and researched by a fellow member, I am better at directing my donations to organizations that are directly involved in breaking the cycle of poverty. As a ‘gang’ we get a chance to nominate an organization that will be the recipient of our pooled donations and as a group, decide which organization receives our quarterly donation. Doing it together has the advantage of being able to make larger donations and to make a greater impact.


Photo of Meryl Hansen

Meryl Hansen, Member


A former advertising copywriter and marcom manager, I am now substitute teaching with dreams of writing. I love to hike with my camera and identify trees, wildflowers and birds. I love driving around the countryside to photograph old barns, homesteads and taverns.
More than anything, though, I love spending time with my children and grandchildren, all a source of incredible joy. In fact family…including my cousins and my Norwegian heritage, have always brought sustenance.

I joined the Poverty Busters giving circle because…

I believe we are “our brothers’ keepers” and part of the larger world family. While I’ve never had a lot, I’ve always had more than many and believe that sharing the load and wealth is the way to live. Not incidentally, I wanted to join my creative and resourceful daughter-in-law in this important endeavor.


Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer, Founding Member


Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is a writer and professional blogger living in, and writing about, Colorado. Check out her blog: Heidi Town. She’s always loved all animals, but dogs are a particular favorite. Heidi likes to say, “A life without a dog is not worth living.”

I joined the People With Compassion for Pets giving circle because…

I’ve always wanted to be able to somehow help charitable organizations that work with animals, but I never felt my little donations would make any difference. In the past, I’ve volunteered a little, and given food, but this was an opportunity to make an even bigger impact.


Christine Forster, Founding Member

Christine Kovacs Forster has always had a love for animals. In her lifetime she has been a proud family member to 4 dogs, 8 cats, 1 squirrel, numerous fish, 2 turtles, 1 goose, and multiple foster pets. She volunteers and supports many pet-related organizations, and she is now the President of People with Compassion for Pets.

Christine’s work in the media for 14+ years has allowed her to learn promotional and PR skills that have helped the organizations she supports in effectively marketing themselves. Aside from her job in the media, Christine owns an event company, www.MyBigDayCompany.com which helps scratch her itch to ‘Dream Big and Live Big’ by hosting events. She is a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts which allows her event company to host fundraisers for non-profits. 50% of all of her personal proceeds from Thirty-One Gifts fundraisers go to the non-profits she supports.

Sharon and Christine met through volunteering in Downtown Loveland, CO and quickly realized that they both had a love for animals. Together with our other members, we hope to grow the concept of GIVING BIG without having to break the bank!

I joined the People With Compassion for Pets giving circle because…

I am passionate about animals. I only wish I had even more time to give to shelters , rescue groups, and those who fight for animal rights…. but my time is limited. By donating monthly as a group, I have an opportunity to give the causes we believe in a HUGE gift. One that I could not afford to give on my own.


Tanya Bealmer

Tanya Bealmer, Member

Hi. I’m a regular working girl who is well aware of the good life I live and am grateful for the opportunity to have enough to give back. I love senior dogs and have come full circle with two of my own. My favorite quote (and I believe you can substitute dogs with any animal): “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras

When I’m not out earning kibble I am on my motorcycle with a camera around my neck or climbing around the Front Range looking for new adventure.

I joined the People With Compassion for Pets giving circle because…

Giving has always been a very important part of my life, but the choices are so overwhelming that sometimes my action turned to inaction due to my inability to make a decision on who/where to donate. Not only does a giving circle ease some of the decision making pressure, it provides me an opportunity to learn about new programs and allows me to compound my giving with others so that a greater impact is realized up front.