Volunteers of the Month

For 2019

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September 2019 – Alyssa L.

We value all of our volunteers and the many ways they give back to the animals in our care. This month we recognize Alyssa L. as our Volunteer of the Month for September 2019!

Alyssa was born in Michigan, although she spent much of her life in Nevada and New Jersey. Throughout her life, Alyssa’s family kept several pets, so animals were always a big part of her upbringing. Four years ago, Alyssa moved to Florida and continued to find time for the animals around her.

Since she moved to the Sunshine State, Alyssa has taken on a full house of furry friends. She is the fur-momma to a Husky-mix, Lab-mix, and a Husky, named Nico, Moses, and Mia respectively. She also has made space in her home for other creatures, including two bunnies and a foster kitten.

“Volunteering at YOUR HSSPCA is actually a dream come true,” Alyssa said. “As a young child, I looked forward to the day I was old enough to contribute in a meaningful way to my community, especially if that meant being around animals. Being a volunteer is remarkable, and I’m grateful to be here.”

Alyssa said she hopes to inspire others in the community to volunteer. “Know that any help potential volunteers can offer is welcome and worth more than they realize,” Alyssa said. “Giving these animals another shot at a happy life is well worth the time and effort put into volunteering.”

While Alyssa has created many incredible memories during her time at YOUR HSSPCA, one of her favorite memories occurred just a few weeks ago, in Kitten Wonderland. “We’d just had several new kittens move in there and I’d taken a moment to sit with them,” Alyssa said. “As soon as I did, they all piled into my lap, seeking affection. Having more than five kittens all over you is an experience that I’m unlikely to forget, and would love to repeat!”

If you are interested in some snuggles too, volunteer with us! There are so many opportunities and ways to donate your time. Congratulations and thank you Alyssa – September 2019 Volunteer of the Month!

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August 2019 – siblings Garrett and Delainey

Congratulations to our Volunteers of the Month for August 2019, siblings Garrett and Delainey!

Just as we love our animals of all breeds and ages, we cherish our wide array of volunteers, both young and young-at-heart. Learning the importance of volunteerism and a respect and love for animals at an early age is a great lesson for children. Two very special volunteers, Garrett, 13, and Delainey, 9, are a couple of our youngest volunteers with two of the biggest hearts you could ever find.

Though they live in neighboring Pasco County, Garrett and Delainey are both loving family members to a whole brood of animals and make the trip into Sumter to help our shelter’s animals too. When the two aren’t busy practicing karate, doing their schoolwork or volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, they are spending time with their three cats and two dogs: Daisy, a 9-year-old black and tan hound, and Cookie, a 8-year-old Pitbull. If those five furry siblings aren’t enough to keep them busy, there are also some feathered family members they tend to. Garrett and Delainey also watch over their 16 Rhode Island Red and Silky chickens. 

Living “way out in the country,” according to their Mom and fellow volunteer, Alexa, the two have always been surrounded by creatures of all kinds. “At an early age, both were used to rescuing animals abandoned in the fields and woods around us,” Alexa said. “Most they could help, but some they couldn’t.”

Garrett and Delainey’s early exposure to all sides of animal rescue prepared them to be the great volunteers that they are for YOUR Humane Society SPCA. The two say they enjoy many aspects of volunteering, but their favorite part is when they see one of them get adopted. (We love that part too!)

Although small in years, this dynamic duo has made a huge impact on the animals at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. They continue to inspire our other volunteers of all ages and show our younger community that it is never too early to get involved in giving back. We hope it will be these types of socially conscientious young people who be leading as our future Board members and shelter leaders.

If you, or your children, are interested in volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, we would love to have you join our family! We love moms like Alexa, who volunteer and get the whole family involved. Volunteering is a great way to build character in children, teach them important values and bond as a family while creating lifelong memories. Volunteering is also a valuable way for children to learn the responsibilities of pet ownership and a perfect solution to spending times with animals if you are unable to currently have a pet of your own. If you would like more information on volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please reach out to us at 352-793-9117 or volunteering@hsspca.org

Congratulations, Garrett, Delainey (and Mom), our August 2019 Volunteers of the Month! Thank you for your labors of love with our shelter animals and beyond! YOU are what makes YOUR Humane Society SPCA great!

July 2019 – Dylan G.

We value all of our volunteers and the many ways they give back to the animals in our care. This month we recognize Dylan Gamez as our Volunteer of the Month for July 2019!

Dylan grew up on Long Island and always had a fondness for furry creatures. She loved the uniqueness of her pets, whether it be a Jack Russell Terrier with a fierce under-bite or a few Cornish Rex cats that many guests would mistake for really large rats or bats without wings. 

After moving to Florida, Dylan and her husband, Barrett, adopted a rescue “Bagle”: a Beagle-Basset Hound mix named Augustine (Auggie). Soon enough, Dylan turned her husband into a cat person when they adopted Nubi, a spunky black cat and a tailless Manx cat named Luna. 

“Our pets are lazy and crazy at the same time and they make our home and family complete,” Dylan said. “We are so lucky we found these three to fill our hearts and home with love and laughs.”

Dylan and her husband love when they get the opportunity to volunteer for YOUR Humane Society SPCA outside of local Publix stores to collect donations for food and important items for the shelter, but Dylan’s main form of volunteering is somewhat unique. 

“Every month I put together the Volunteer of the Month feature for YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s website and social media,” Dylan said. “It is such a joy to help bring awareness to the organization and I’m so blessed to be able to highlight and celebrate the incredible people who spend their time volunteering.”

Dylan became involved with YOUR Humane Society SPCA while working as the pets and animals reporter for The Villages Daily Sun.  Now, Dylan is the Marketing Director for two dental companies in Leesburg, but loves that she still gets to write about animals and the wonderful humans who care for them. 

Dylan encourages anyone interested in volunteering to reach out to YOUR Humane Society SPCA.

“You never know how you may be able to help,” Dylan said. “It may not be in the traditional way and you may bring something to the table that you may not even realize they need. Talk to the team members and let them know your strengths. There are so many ways to get involved.” 

Dylan’s favorite memory volunteering was during a Publix event with her husband. 

“We found all the sale items and coupons for pet items that were on YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s wishlist and we let customers know about them before going in to shop,” Dylan said. “We had three full carts and the Buy One-Get One cat litter was a great way for people to be able to give double while also feeling like they got a deal. It was such a great feeling seeing so many people willing to give during their grocery visit.”

If you are interested in volunteering with us, please give us a call. There are so many opportunities and ways to donate your time. Congratulations Dylan – July 2019 Volunteer of the Month. 

June 2019 – Rose M.

We could not do what we do at YOUR Humane Society SPCA without YOU! This month we would like to honor teen volunteer Rose M. as our Volunteer of the Month for June 2019!

Rose was born in New York but raised in Central Florida. Animals always played a big part in her upbringing. “Ever since I can remember I’ve loved animals, especially dogs,” Rose said. “Throughout my childhood I had fish, hermit crabs, hamsters, guinea pigs, and more.” At one time Rose even had four guinea pigs, which she described as a “big adventure.” 

Growing up on a lake, Rose’s love of animals extended to creatures in their natural habitats too. She loved to watch the world go by and watch baby turtles play in her backyard. Currently, Rose is fur-mom to a two-year-old guinea pig named Willow, and a Chihuahua mix, Zoe. Rose found Zoe at YOUR Humane Society SPCA in February (where she was called Bella) and now she’s very spoiled but very happy, Rose said. Zoe will be two in August. Rose is inspired to volunteer because of the ability to give a dog or cat just a bit of happiness. “If I can help a dog have some time outside or a cat have socialization, it makes me happy to know that they’re happy,” Rose said. 

Rose urges anyone interested in volunteering to take the next step, regardless of age. “For teens, YOUR Humane Society SPCA is one of the best places to get volunteer hours,” Rose said. “I’ve volunteered at various places and none of them have felt as much like home as YOUR Humane Society SPCA,” Rose said. 

“Volunteers of all ages should know their time is valuable, and even a small amount of it can help animals here prepare for adoption.”

During her time volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Rose has enjoyed many special memories, but one particular encounter with kittens holds a special place in her heart. “I was surprised by how friendly this bunch of kittens were, but one of them were especially friendly and jumped onto my shoulder and proceeded to hang out there while I cleaned.”

Thank you to Rose, our June 2019 Volunteer of the Month and all of our volunteers who help the homeless animals in our community every day! 

May 2019 – Judy P.

Every month we highlight a special human who has dedicated their time to the homeless pets of our community by volunteering with us at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Without our volunteers we would never be able to place as many animals in their forever homes as we do! Congratulations go to our Volunteer of the Month for May, Judy P.!

Judy is an undeniable animal lover, but it’s not surprising considering the way she grew up in Bath, Maine. Her family loved animals and they loved them in all shapes and sizes. Judy’s home was never short on fur-family. “We always had both cats and dogs,” Judy said. “We also had one Chinchilla and a couple of Parakeets.” In addition to their indoor pets, Judy’s family was known to “adopt” many other “not-quite pets” that lived outside – insects, frogs, tadpoles and snakes.

When Judy isn’t busy volunteering on our campus, she informed us that she spends most of her free-time being “bossed around by her three cats” at home. Judy is the proud cat-momma to one rescued, black stub-tailed feral cat, a Lilac Siamese and a Chestnut Oriental Shorthair.

Judy’s love of animals, and cats in particular, comes from the huge role pets played in her childhood. Because of her upbringing, volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA was a no-brainer for her. Judy’s answer as to why she volunteers could not be more simply stated, but it embodies just how deeply her love of animals is ingrained in her. “I volunteer because I love cats and because the need is so great,” Judy said.

Not only is Judy a huge help to the homeless animals of Sumter County, but she is an advocate for volunteering as well. “I encourage people to volunteer because we have a huge problem in this country, where 2.7 million (according to the ASPCA) beautiful cats and dogs are euthanized every year just because they do not have a home,” Judy said.

“And an infamous person once said something that stuck with me – that if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.” Thank you to all of our volunteers who continue to be a part of the solution, and congratulations to Judy, our Volunteer of the Month for May 2019!

April 2019 – Julie K.

Julie moved to Florida from Philadelphia twelve years ago.

Julie’s love of animals started at a young age. Although she was only allowed to have cats as a child, she always wanted a dog of her own.

After getting married, Julie’s wish was granted: she adopted her very first pup. “I always pictured myself with a large white Afghan Hound, but I wound up with a miniature Dachshund,” Julie said while laughing and added “which was absolutely wonderful!”

Julie may have imagined herself with a large dog, but it seems time has proven she also loves smaller dogs. She currently is the mother to a Papillon and a Pomapoo. “Two small, loving dogs,” Julie said. “But it might explain why I love volunteering with the large dogs.”

Julie has been volunteering with the HS/SPCA for ten years. She said her time with our organization has taught her that there are great people in the world who are always looking to help animals in need.

“If something doesn’t seem right, there is always someone to go to,” Julie said. “Everyone at the HS/SPCA of Sumter has the same goal – stopping the mistreatment of animals and finding good homes.”

After years of volunteering, Julie has sound advice. “I would encourage anyone to volunteer,” Julie said. “Yes, it makes you feel good. People will think you are nice. But the real winners are the animals you help.”

Thank you for your service and dedication to the animals of Sumter County, Julie! Congratulations on being our April 2019 Volunteer of the Month!

March 2019 – Darlene L.

Born and raised in Virginia, Darlene grew up in a home continually filled with the love of animals. There was always a dog or cat for Darlene to play and cuddle with. After years of cuddling, Darlene realized she was an indisputable animal lover, with a special soft spot for cats.

Darlene continued her fondness for felines and she and her husband Bill are the parents to three cats: Harry, Callie and Penny. Harry is a Maine Coon/Tabby Mix, Callie is a Calico (of course) and Penny is a Tabby. While they have different personalities, one thing all three cats have in common is they are from rescues: Harry and Callie from a Petsmart in Virginia and Penny, born a feral kitten.

Penny was abandoned by her mom on Darlene’s front porch in Virginia and helped Darlene earn her first experience in bottle-feeding kittens.

Darlene’s reason to volunteer for the HS/SPCA would not likely be a surprise – she loves cats. II want [the cats’] current home to be clean and a fun place to live,” Darlene said. “I hope each week that when I leave the Catty Shack the cats are happy and feel safe.”

Darlene also strives to make sure prospective, adoptive parents are comfortable when visiting the HS/SPCA. “They need to know we keep a clean and fun environment for the cats,” Darlene said. “Clean feeding areas, clean litter boxes and plenty of toys that the furry ones can play with.” When Darlene sees the adorable cats of the HS/SPCA, varying in ages, sizes and breeds having fun or napping in the sun, she knows she has done her job. “That’s my inspiration,” Darlene added.

Darlene urges other cat (or dog) lovers in the area to get involved in volunteering with the HS/SPCA. “All of the animals give back more than we can ever give them,” Darlene said. “They know when a human cares. Whether walking dogs, cleaning kennels, cuddling kitties, brushing the dogs or whatever we can do to make that animal’s life a little better, is so worth it.”

Darlene has experienced many special memories during her time volunteering, but there was one occasion that sticks out in her mind. While cleaning the Catty Shack there was one kitten that decided to “help” her. The kitten climbed on her, jumped in her lap and licked and stroked her hair. While the cat didn’t actually help with the “cleaning duties,” she did make the experience more entertaining. “That was a good day,” Darlene said.

Do you want to have a good day too? Get involved and make a difference by volunteering with our Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County. Come visit our campus to learn how or visit hsspca.org/volunteer. Congratulations, Darlene! Thank you for your efforts with our cats and beyond!

February 2019 – Gloria L.

Gloria arrived in Florida from the New Hampshire sea coast seven years ago and began volunteering for our HS/SPCA two years later. She is a definite asset to our mission with her background of over 20 years volunteering for her NH shelter. She marvels at the many improvements made by our organization and how we have grown during these last five years.

Gloria heads up the adoption program for our cats who temporarily reside and are showcased at our two local PetSmart and Petco stores. Not only does she transport the cats from one venue to another when needed, she personally meets with potential adopters to interview them, ensuring they are a good match for each cat and that they will provide a loving caring home. Also, she often welcomes some of our kittens or cats into her own home as a foster parent, to prepare them for adoption by socializing and coaching them on how to live in a family environment.

Additionally, Gloria assists with the adoptable cats at the Lake Panasoffkee campus.  Recently, Gloria and her husband, Bob, generously helped fund a free-range kitten area, called Kitten Wonderland, in where, kittens up to ten months old can play and grow with other kittens. They donated this in the memory of their special cat, Diddy. Our HS/SPCA couldn’t be more thankful for this kindness.

When asked what Gloria’s most memorable experience has been since working with the HS/SPCA, she responded, “That’s easy. Three years ago, Carol, Bill and I worked tirelessly to get 33 kittens and cats transferred to a New Hampshire no-kill shelter, where they were all adopted quickly! And most recently, I was psyched to learn that in 2018 my efforts, along with those of 30 other volunteers, resulted in placing over 200 cats, from our two PetSmart and Petco locations, into their forever homes.”

Gloria loves all animals, especially cats, and works determinedly on their behalf. She wants the volunteers to know how much they are needed for the adoption program to be successful, and she appreciates the different ways each volunteer contributes towards the ultimate goal of finding each cat their forever home.

Gloria exemplifies the dedication of the HS/SPCA volunteers and is a large part of caring for our adoptable cats especially. She encourages anyone with a love for animals to volunteer in any way they can. If you would like to get involved in helping our animals, please email us at info@hsspca.org or call 352-793-9117. You are also welcome to visit our campus and complete a volunteer application while there.

January 2019 – Mary C.

​Baltimore’s loss was Sumter County’s gain as far as we are concerned when Mary C. moved here and began volunteering with our HS/SPCA over twelve years ago. Mary’s fondness of animals began in her childhood with a Siamese cat named Charlie who held true to the breed, having lots of personality.

Upon retiring to The Villages, Mary adopted her first of two dogs and a cat from our HS/SPCA in the years that followed. Mary strongly believes in giving back to the community on many social platforms and she mentioned that “our organization’s mission was one I knew I could support wholeheartedly.” This led to her becoming more involved with our HS/SPCA on an administrative level, utilizing skills from her earlier career. Mary soon became our Secretary and eventually rose to assume the Chairmanship. Mary’s grant writing, research and applications yielded many successful funding sources to enable our HS/SPCA to provide free spay/neuter services and pet food for our community assistance programs over the years. In addition, Mary organized special all-day spay/neuter events when our “Big Fix” S/N program was a mobile veterinary on-site event between 2008 and 2012. Today this program has evolved into a voucher program, reaching a greater number of animals throughout our community. She recalls the intensely long days of multiple mobile veterinary clinics and volunteers participating on-site at key areas of need throughout Sumter County (Croom, Center Hill, Wildwood and Lake Panasoffkee.) “It was quite a job to get everything organized, feed the volunteers and take care of the recovering animals after their surgeries” she added but it was a very rewarding job.

Mary believes that “the Sumter County community needs our HS/SPCA and our HS/SPCA needs the support and involvement of its community to keep moving forward with positive changes for the welfare of its animals and their people. Effective volunteers are especially needed in areas beyond animal care such as in grant writing, administrative work and special events including fundraising and adoptions and more.”

As our HS/SPCA grows, Mary is absolutely correct that we are looking for motivated people to get involved and make a difference. Contact us at hsspca.org, 352-793-9117 or come by for a visit to our campus and complete a volunteer application while there!    

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