‘Catstock’ to benefit feline rescue in Oneida beset by unexpected rent hike

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VERONA — Local musicians are teaming up to help Finnland’s Fosters of Oneida raise money after a rent increase has threatened the pet adoption center’s future.

Finnland’s Fosters recently moved from its second-floor location above the Eclectic Chic store on Seneca Avenue to a larger rental location on Cedar Street. According to its GoFundMe page, Finnland’s Fosters staff were informed of an increase in rent from $800 to $1,500 — not including insurance of $150 and utilities of $400 — stressing the not-for-profit’s budget.

“It’s hard to balance taking in and adopting out cats just with donations,” Michele Finn, owner of Finnland’s Fosters, said. “And we haven’t been able to get grants because the grant lenders don’t have the funds at this time due to the COVID-19 impact.”

To that end, the Finnland’s Fosters turned to the community for help to raise money and buy the property outright. “We are asking for help to save Finnland’s Fosters so we can continue to help unwanted cats in our area and strive for a better life for them,” the GoFundMe read.

Logan Chesebro, an Oneida resident and drummer for “One Man. The Band,” heard of the shelter’s plight — and wanted to know how he could help.

“They got into their new building, they got everything set up, invested money, and their rent got raised,” Chesebro said. “As a musician, I have to spend all of my money on gear and gas to get from gig to gig, so I had to think of a way to help Finnland’s Fosters.”

When Logan offered to help, Michele Finn, owner of Finnland’s Fosters, said she was speechless. There had been so much support from the community, in both well wishes and donations, and now people were asking directly what they could do.

Finn put Chesebro in touch with David Laskowski, owner of the Nothin Fancy Country Rock Saloon,10 Ruth St., Vernon. From there, the three began to lay the groundwork for “Catstock,” a benefit concert and carnival to help Finnland’s Fosters. “Catstock” will be held on Sunday, May 16, from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $15. Masks are required.

Finn said she was ready to rent the building for Catstock, but Laskowski instead offered the space for free.

“It’s big and carnival-styled,” Chesebro said. “There’ll be carnival games, prizes, raffles, and several bands playing. And every penny [of that] is going right back to Finnland’s Fosters.”

“We’re working it out that [Nothin Fancy] will take care of all the food and drinks,” Finn said. “There’ll be a cash bar and food for sale, and that will go to [Nothin Fancy] since they just reopened after COVID-19.”

“One Man. The Band” will be headlining the show, Chesebro said, with other local bands and musicians, including Char Dennis and Aaron Liedka, and Shane Archer Reed.

“Animals mean a lot to me,” Chesebro said. “Growing up, I was a really shy kid. I had friends, but I mainly kept to myself. But the one thing I had was my pets.”

He continued, saying organizations like Finnland’s Fosters are important, especially to areas like Oneida that have a feral cat issue. “We have this wonderful cat shelter that’s doing everything it can to help with the feral cat population,” Chesebro said. “It doesn’t just save the cats. It helps the city.”

Finnland’s Fosters had been looking to expand, and the rent increase came at an inopportune time, Finn said. “We started as an overflow for shelters in our area but then found a much greater need,” she said. And as that need grew, the need to reach out to the community grew with it. There are already plans underway to start with children’s programs — from pre-k to high school — and discussions of programs for seniors, veterans programs, ARC programs, and more.

Close to $7,000 has been pledged to Finnland’s Fosters GoFundMe page, www.gofundme.com/f/save-our-cat-rescue. People may also donate via PayPal at Paypal.me/finnlands

To learn more about “One Man. The Band” and other upcoming shows, visit www.facebook.com/OneManTheBand/.

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