My friend Teri Gray loves animals. All animals. Like us, she sees the dangers many animals are facing today, and she’s taking action to help them. I recently interviewed Teri, who you will see is a very smart woman who has admirable intentions for her organization, Linked Up For Animals, or LUFA World https://lufaworld.com/
BA: Let’s begin with a bit of biography so readers of this interview can know who you are.
Teri Gray and Hercules
TG: I was named after St. Theresa, the Little Flower of Jesus, who was known for her love of animals. I was born in Long Beach, California, live in Long Beach, and am married to the love of my life, Jacqueline Casares. She and I co-own three businesses: (1) a healthcare staffing agency named PeopleSolutions Healthcare Staffing, (2) Linked Up For Animals (LUFAWorld.com), and (3) the Linked Up For Animals Foundation. I am the CEO of all three businesses.
BA: Even though Jacqueline and many of your friends (like me) are Goddess-loving pagans, you’re a Buddhist. Can you tell us how you became a Buddhist? How Buddhism guides your life?
TG: I believe that I have been Buddhist in many lifetimes. It is a part of my DNA at this point. For me, “becoming a Buddhist” was more like a dominant gene expressed at the time of my birth. I absolutely love the Buddhist path. I practice Mahayana, also known as Tibetan Buddhism, which is considered the highest path in Buddhism.
I took my bodhisattva vow thirty years ago and have since then dedicated my life to ending the suffering of all sentient beings and all causes of suffering. I practice and have become good at generosity, kindness, and compassion toward all beings. When I wake up every morning, I say my prayer to Kwan Yin before I do anything else. I use the prayer to guide both my mind and my heart when making decisions. I have always had a profound love and respect for animals, so when I took my vow, I decided I would commit to doing all I could to end all causes of the suffering of animals everywhere. This is the true inspiration for Linked Up For Animals.
BA: Are you interested in just local animals like stray and feral dogs and cats? How about wild animals like wolves, which are again in danger of being hunted? All animals all over the world like tigers and elephants?
TG: I care for all animals, insects, and plant life around me and around the world. For me, all life is to be respected and protected. For me, things got serious about seven years ago when I moved into a Long Beach neighborhood with lots of free-roaming cats that had not been spayed or neutered. Over the years I have run my own TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) program for more than eighty cats in my neighborhood. (I also get up early every morning to feed these cats, who have learned to come to my home for breakfast.) I soon learned about the overpopulation and homelessness of cats throughout LA County and knew this problem can only get worse if something is not done. That’s why I started the TNR Coalition of Greater Los Angeles County. I intend to deal with this issue in a big way. This cause will be listed on the website as the corporate responsibility of LUFA World.
BA: How is LUFA different from organizations like the ASPCA? How important is funding for animal-rights organizations?
TG: There are many nonprofits around the world whose missions are to help animals in need. I would say there is a worldwide army of nonprofits, over 11,000 in the U.S. alone, that work on this mission every day. But one of the biggest problems in animal welfare is the serious lack of funding. So, I thought, if we create a social media platform for all things animals, not only would we improve and advance communications in animal welfare, but we could also monetize the website and the platform and generate as many streams of revenue as we can. All the profit from LUFA World will go to animal services, rescues, sanctuaries, and legislation. I am good at business and intend to make billions for animal services.
BA Why “linked up”? What is unique about LUFA? What is unique about your work? How much can one person do?
I admit the words “linked up” were inspired by the LinkedIn website. What encouraged me so much about the LinkedIn platform was the way information moves exponentially to many people at once. I thought if I could apply this capability to our platform, how much faster could we help animals in need? Currently, nonprofits communicate via email, snail mail, and maybe a newsletter or a quarterly publication. But in this day of social media, these forms of communication are old-fashioned and ineffective. I believe that improving communications and reaching larger audiences equals better outcomes for animals everywhere. Plus, I want to monetize this platform and make lots of money for nonprofits.
BA: What we can do to join LUFA and become part of the network for animals?
TG: Our initial goals are to drive membership and get people signed up. When they become a member of LUFA World, https://lufaworld.com/ they will also be a part of the advocacy group. If we can grow the membership as large as, say, AARP, we will become a collective voice and a powerful voting bloc. This will help to get animal legislation passed.
We launched in May 2021 and are now looking to do some serious marketing. We are also hoping to get some word-of-mouth exposure. We recognize all this will take a little time to get some traction, but the LUFA team is fully committed to LUFA World and will not stop for anything.
Anyone interested in joining can go to LUFAWorld.com https://lufaworld.com/ and complete the online application, activate their account, and then log into LUFA Social and join the conversation. We also want new members to start using LUFA Social, our newly launched social media platform. The platform was designed like Facebook so it will be easy for people to learn to use. I am in the LUFA office every day, so if anyone wants to reach to me, that is where you find will me.
BA: Teri, thanks for your good work and for this interview.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic. Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations. When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.