Volunteers of the Month

volunteer of the month september21

September 2021 – Ian Meskil

YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s Volunteer of the Month for September 2021 is Ian Meskil!

As autumn approaches, the animals who need care, medical assistance, attention and love still arrive at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Our volunteers are instrumental in providing those needs, and we would like to honor Ian Meskil as our Volunteer of the Month for September!  Because of people like him, we can rescue, rehabilitate and rehome the animals into loving families.

Ian was born and raised here in Wildwood. Animals played a big part in his life because they gave him a sense of comfort and were always there for him. He never forgot that. Not only does he have three dogs at home, all of whom are an unknown mix of breeds, but Ian has found volunteering at our shelter as a great way to connect with dogs who appreciate his caring and support.

“I enjoy the connection I have with the animals at YOUR Humane Society SPCA and find it so rewarding when I see them finally get into good homes,” Ian said. “I hope others will be inspired to help out because there is nothing like the absolute joy you feel when the dogs run up to greet you, wagging their tails like crazy or rubbing up against you to say hello. And you can’t help but smile when you throw the ball and they race to fetch it.”

Ian usually walks the dogs and helps at getting them better socialized with both humans and other dogs. He normally spends a full day at the shelter and is always eager to help with any odd job that crops up. The day that is most memorable for Ian was when he heard one of his favorite dogs, Flo, was being adopted. He happened to be volunteering that day and he was able to say goodbye and wish Flo well as she was leaving with her new family. “It was a great day,” Ian said knowing his labor of love helped her be placed with a good family.

We are so grateful for our team of lifesavers who give of themselves to care for our adoptable cats and dogs, and we are proud to highlight Ian as our Volunteer of the Month for September 2021. Congratulations! We thank you for your hard work, dedication, and the support you give the dogs to keep their tails wagging.

If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction of knowing how much YOUR efforts impact your community, please call YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter, at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, offering dog walking and basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, fundraising, or gardening, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents!

August 2021-Carol Schultz

As the dog days of summer draw to a close, YOUR Humane Society SPCA would like to thank our August Volunteer of the Month, Carol Schultz, who is on our team of lifesavers. Without people like her, we would not be able to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome the animals who land on our doorstep, who need better care and health and who seek to find a fur-ever family.

Carol began to volunteer for us after she and her husband hosted a charity Bingo event several years ago. They chose our organization as one of their benefiting charities. The shelter director at that time spoke at the event and stressed the need for volunteers. When Carol learned we had been a no-kill shelter since our inception in 1982, she volunteered and has assisted with our adoptable cats ever since. She helps maintain our Catty Shack, supports many of our fundraising events, and promotes pet adoptions at every opportunity. She also facilitates adoptions for the Cat Crazy Villagers Club.

“The best part about working with the cats every week is cuddling and loving them,” Carol said. “You also get to know each cat’s personality, so when you pass on your observations, it helps to get them adopted to the right home.”

“My most memorable experience was with a sweet kitty who had been returned to the shelter twice. I had a real soft spot for her,” Carol said. “She was so thin and scraggly at first, but she began to thrive, and I was so happy when she was adopted by a kind lady and finally found her permanent home.”

Carol grew up in upstate New York and had parakeets, but when her family moved to Virginia Beach in 1992, they took in a stray cat, who was the first of nine over the years. She currently has two cats. Minnie is a 13-year-old Siamese mix who has beautiful blue eyes, remains shy and skittish, but loves belly rubs! Carol adopted Fuzzle from YOUR Humane Society SPCA last year. “Fuzzle is 8 years old, has only one eye, three teeth and nerve damage in her neck, but is extremely active and lovable,” Carol reports.

We are so grateful for our volunteers who give of themselves to care for our adoptable cats and dogs, and we are proud to highlight Carol as our Volunteer of the Month for August 2021. Congratulations! We thank you for your hard work, dedication, and the support you give the cats to make them comfortable and to assist in giving them an opportunity to find a better life with a family to call their own. 

If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction of knowing how much your efforts impact YOUR community, please call YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter, at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, offering dog walking and basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, fundraising, or gardening and basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents!

July 2021-Marge LeClaire

July is one of the most challenging months of the year for pets. Between the explosive summer storms accompanied by unending intense heat and humidity, to the firework celebrations during Independence Day, lost and injured pets arrive at shelters more than usual. We are so grateful for our volunteers who give of themselves to care for our adoptable dogs and cats all year long, but particularly during this month.🐾❤
We show our gratitude by selecting a Volunteer of the Month to highlight how they became involved and to thank them for everything they do. Without their help, we couldn’t do our important work. Our honoree for July 2021 is Marge LeClaire, a wonderful supporter who began volunteering with us in 2015, has performed all kinds of tasks, from walking dogs to cleaning dog crates and helps in our adoptable cat buildings. “Your work as a volunteer at YHHSPCA is for such a worthy cause,” Marge said. “You see the tangible results of your efforts immediately and the animals really benefit!”
Marge grew up in Buffalo, New York and helped raise the various family dogs over the years. When she married her husband, a military man, they traveled a lot and finally landed in Florida eleven years ago. Never expecting to adopt, Marge and her husband reached out during a time of need in 2019 when Turbo was looking for a foster home for a few days over Thanksgiving weekend. Marge describes 3-year-old Turbo as an all-American Hound. It turned out to be a wonderful holiday for everyone. “We couldn’t resist his cuddle-bug nature,” Marge said. “By the time our fostering term ended, we applied to adopt him, and once approved, we changed his name to Buddy and he became a member of our family.”
Seven-year-old Jed, a Lab/Golden Retriever mix, was already part of their household. Initially, Marge and her husband raised him from a puppy to be trained as a sight service dog but he turned out to be too sensitive to traffic, so Jed was released from this program and became their first pet. When Buddy arrived for Thanksgiving, Turbo and Jed became fast friends.
“I’m so inspired by the work YOUR Humane Society SPCA does,” Marge states. “Not only do the animals need the care, but I also continue to stay because of the people. I am continually impressed by both the staff’s and the volunteers’ commitment and dedication to the welfare of the animals.”
Congratulations, Marge! We are honored that you are on our team of lifesavers and our Volunteer of the Month for July 2021! You are an example of the compassionate people we need to help us care for our animals and give them the chance at happiness they so deserve. The need for help is great, and we could not do it without you. Thank you, Marge, for all you do.
➡If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction of knowing how much your efforts impact YOUR community, please call YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter, at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, offering dog walking and basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, fundraising, or gardening and basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents!

June 2021-David McMahon

We could not take such excellent care of the many animals at YOUR Humane Society SPCA without YOU! Every month we highlight one of our special volunteers – someone who donates their heart and time to the animals of our area who need it most. This month we are celebrating David McMahon, our June 2021 Volunteer of the Month!

Originally from Saratoga Springs, New York, David grew up with a Sheltie named Button, and an orange Tabby cat, named Muffin. But as David matured, he found he was allergic to cats and dogs. He learned to put up with the symptoms for years while in his parents’ home, but never got a pet of his own after reaching adulthood.

That was until he moved to Florida. Upon moving South, David opted to try allergy shots. “After two years of treatments, I decided to try out another cat,” David said. “I adopted Pixie, a beautiful black and white tuxedo, when she was four months old. And the allergy shots worked! I had no symptoms and so I kept the little rapscallion. She is now five years old.”

While David initially started volunteering to “get himself out of the house,” it did not take long for him to discover the rewards of volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. “I had no idea it would be as rewarding as it has been. I look forward to visiting all the cats and kittens and giving them chin scritches and belly rubs (those that like them). I try to give equal time to all the cats in the Catty Shack. Maybe, I give a little extra attention to newer members who are a shell shocked by having their world upended with the change.”

David encouraged anyone thinking about volunteering to take the leap of faith. “All that is asked for, is simply an investment of your time,” David said.  “You can volunteer as much or as little as you are able. Also, there are so many ways to help. Opportunities exist from socializing to clerical assistance. The biggest reward is to see an unwanted animal find a loving home.”

David has created many memories throughout his time volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, but his most recent adventure holds a very special spot in his heart. “My most memorable experience is my current decision to foster a cat and her five kittens,” David said. “It brings me joy to see them grow. They began life as tiny fur babies with their eyes still closed and folded ears. Then their eyes opened, and they began to see their new world.”

There are so many ways to share your time, and your heart, with the animals of YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Please consider joining our volunteer team to help make an impact in the lives of these creatures, who so desperately need our help. We are so blessed to have people like David volunteer at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter’s County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter. Thank you, David, and again, congratulations on being our June 2021 Volunteer of the Month! Reach the shelter at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. Orientations are typically the first Saturday of each month. Will you be our next Volunteer of the Month? There are many opportunities to get involved in saving the lives of the animals in Sumter County such as dog walking, basic leash manners, socialization, basic grooming, administrative help in the office, fundraising, gardening and more. Teamwork makes the dream work!

May 2021-Josephine “Jo” Posillico

YOUR Humane Society SPCA is successful in saving animals in our area due to the wonderful volunteers who donate their time to help. Every month we highlight one of these special individuals who goes above and beyond to help the homeless animals of Sumter County. Congratulations to our May 2021 Volunteer of the Month, Josephine “Jo” Posillico!🥳
Originally from Long Island, NY, Jo grew up surrounded by pets. She cannot remember a time when a furry creature wasn’t around during her childhood. “A dog and a cat, parakeets at times,” Jo said. “My brother even had a baby alligator once before we realized it was a bad idea.”
Now a permanent Florida resident, Jo and her wife Lyn have a small Bichon named Bella – adopted from none other than YOUR HSSPCA six years ago. Throughout the years Jo and Lyn have had many dogs in their home. When residing in New York, Lyn volunteered for the Guidedog Foundation as a puppy walker and Jo got hooked on volunteering too.🐾
“We raised mostly Labrador Retrievers for them and learned a lot about the beginning of training for working dogs,” Jo said. While Jo started her volunteering efforts up North, she knew she had to get involved with animals again in Florida. “I have a soft spot in my heart for dogs who need forever homes,” Jo said. “All pets deserve a loving home. I find dogs give you unconditional love.”
Jo encourages anyone interested in volunteering to get involved with YOUR HSSPCA. “Your time and effort pay off as the animals learn to trust, and respond to you,” Jo said. “The best is when they are adopted into a caring home.”🐾
Jo has made many memories over the years as a volunteer with YOUR HSSPCA and has spent plenty of time with our dogs. Throughout her time volunteering she also has managed to spend some time with our furry felines. “My most memorable volunteering experience was when I did a stencil drawing of the first Kitten Wonderland,” Jo said. “I was surrounded by happy kittens willing to help me.”
In addition to spending time with the dogs and cats, Jo has worn many hats at YOUR HSSPCA. “I walk dogs, but I have worked in the office answering phones and doing reference checks,” Jo said. “I have helped to paint the front porch, House of Paws and the Kitten Wonderland. I have volunteered for many fundraisers and donated many baskets and pet food items over the years.”
Jo is proof that there are countless ways to volunteer to make a lifesaving difference with YOUR HSSPCA. We would love to have you join our volunteer family. Congratulations and thank you to our Volunteer of the Month for May 2021 – Jo!❤
➡To get involved with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter, reach them at 352-793-9117 or complete a volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. Orientations are typically the first Saturday of each month. There are many opportunities to get involved in saving the lives of the animals in Sumter County such as dog walking, basic leash manners, socialization, basic grooming, administrative help in the office, fundraising, gardening and more. Teamwork makes the dream work!

April 2021-Lisa Zeller

While April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, we feel it is important to highlight individuals year-round who make up this incredible group of animal-loving people. All our volunteers are invaluable to the success of YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Every month we feature a special person as our Volunteer of the Month and for April 2021, that special team member is Lisa Zeller!❤
Lisa’s long love affair with felines began at the age of 4 when she received her first kitten. The neighborhood kids were giving them away and she begged her parents for a particular little orange tabby. They reluctantly agreed. Though her mother did not like cats at the time, she was quickly won over by the little cutie. Lisa and her family decided on the name “Butterball.”❤
Fast forwarding to September of 2018, Lisa moved to The Villages from Appleton, Wisconsin with her 10-year-old kitty Moe, an orange, polydactyl, tabby. Soon thereafter, she adopted a little white kitten with black spots and named him Charlie for his little Charlie Chaplin mustache. After settling into her new home and getting to know the area, Lisa quickly realized transitioning to retirement was not going to be as easy as she had thought.
“My years spent in sales and design for a residential home building company allowed the satisfaction of connecting people with their dreams for the future,” Lisa said. “I missed regular contact with the public. Enter the fostering program at YOUR Humane Society SPCA.”
Lisa encouraged a good friend and fellow cat lover to apply for the foster program, with the provision of being “assistant kitten nanny.”
“We had such fun with the first litter,” Lisa said. “They became ready for adoption just in time for a Kitten Shower event at the new PetSmart store. I’ll never forget that day. After transporting them to the store and placing them in a playpen, we hung around to see what would happen.”
There were close to 30 kittens with other local rescue groups participating. Miraculously, all 5 of “their” kittens were adopted, but, admittedly, the friends cried like babies when each of the kittens left with their adopters. “Honestly, Gloria, the Volunteer Outreach Coordinator for the shelter, and the other volunteers working that day must have thought we were nuts,” Lisa said with a laugh.
After that day, an idea began to form for Lisa. There were so many kitties that needed homes and, at the time, Gloria appeared to be the sole “adoption facilitator.” Lisa thought that perhaps, Gloria could use some assistance. “I approached Gloria with the idea that she takes me on as a trainee adoption assistant,” Lisa said. “Shortly thereafter, news of the new Petsense store opening came – my golden opportunity.”
Since that time, Lisa volunteers there on Saturdays, meeting and greeting potential adopters and with some mentoring, she has been able to complete numerous adoptions. “It has been truly satisfying to combine my love of all things feline with helping people find their purrrfect companion,” Lisa said. “Thank you, Gloria, and YOUR Humane Society SPCA!”
Lisa’s love of cats continued.
“One day last July, I received an email that there were new kittens at Petsense…especially one white with black spots named Cookie. Something about that description, and name, just set off my kitty radar. My Charlie is white with black spots and his high energy was a bit much for 10-year-old Moe. Charlie really needed a playmate. When I went the next day, there she was: a miniature Charlie. Not only was she his virtual twin, but she had the same outgoing personality. She came home with me and it has been a total circus in my tiny house ever since…but in a good way!” Lisa added.
Lisa encourages anyone with a love of animals, to get involved with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest private no-kill shelter. Reach them at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. Orientations are typically the first Saturday of each month. There are many opportunities to get involved in saving the lives of the animals in Sumter County such as dog walking, basic leash manners, socialization, basic grooming, administrative help in the office, fundraising, gardening and more. We are so blessed to have volunteers like Lisa Zeller, and we are thrilled to give her the honor of our Volunteer of the Month for April 2021. Teamwork makes the dream work!❤❤❤

March 2021-Linda Westervelt

It’s the luckiest month of the year and YOUR HSSPCA is so lucky to have wonderful volunteers who nurture, train and simply love on the animals in our care! This month we are highlighting just one of the incredible people that donate their time to the animals of our community. Congratulations to Linda Westervelt, our March 2021 Volunteer of the Month!

Originally from Connecticut, Linda spent most of her life loving on animals of all kinds. She said it was the best part of her childhood. “We had many dogs over the years, plus cats, ducks, rabbits and birds,” Linda said. “But the best was the day my parents bought me a horse!” Linda’s horse was a black Hackney she named Tap Dancer. Linda and Tap Dancer participated in many horse shows and together, they always took home a ribbon. Most of Linda’s teenage years were spent on a Morgan horse farm, where she kept Tap Dancer. “I count those years among the best of my childhood,” Linda said.

Today, Linda is the fur-momma to a special needs Pug named Tugboat Willy and Pueblo the cat. “Tugboat has Myelopathy, and his back legs are paralyzed,” Linda said. “He cannot walk or empty his bladder on his own, so I have to help him throughout the day. It is my labor of love.”

Linda’s labors of love don’t stop with Tugboat Willy. Though you would think Linda is kept busy just caring for him and Pueblo, she finds the time to care for the animals at YOUR HSSPCA too. My love and respect for animals runs deep,” Linda said. “In my recently published book, ‘Where Bluebirds Fly,’ I have dedicated the book to animals.”

Through her published work and throughout her community, Linda spreads the word of the power of volunteering and caring for the animals that need us. Linda mainly gives her time to the shelter as a dog walker, making the day brighter for the animals– a responsibility she says, she is “proud and grateful for.”

Linda has experienced many special moments during her time volunteering at YOUR HSSPCA and she always is overcome with excitement when one of the longtime residents finds a forever home. “My most memorable day was the day I first took a frightened dog out for a walk,” Linda said. “She was in the quarantined area then and she wouldn’t budge, so with a little gentle tugging, I gradually coaxed her over to the fenced exercise area. As soon as I got her inside the gate, she cowered and leaned tightly against the fence. This told me all I needed to know.”

That powerful and heartbreaking moment reinforced what Linda already knew in her heart – that what she did made a difference in the lives of these animals and the worst of their days was behind them. She knew the work she was doing was important.

We are so blessed to have so many wonderful volunteers like Linda, but we can always use more help! There are so many animals in our community that need us, and we could not do this work without our incredible volunteers. We thank them for all they do. If you would like to get involved and share your time with our loving animals, call YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Sumter County’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at yhsspca.org/volunteer. Congratulations again to our March 2021 Volunteer of the Month, Linda!

February 2021-Carole Borghoff

❤️Volunteer of the Month Carole Borghoff February 2021❤️
YOUR Humane Society SPCA is built on a whole lot of love for animals and amazing volunteers. We could not do this without our volunteers. Every month we choose one of these incredible people to highlight as our Volunteer of the Month.❤️
Carole grew up in a suburb near Philadelphia. Throughout her youth, Carole always shared her home with dogs and cats. Her family even had five cats at one time, so caring for animals was in her blood. 15 years ago, Carole and her husband moved to The Villages from Virginia Beach where they share their home with Ali, a Tortie cat they rescued as a kitten 12 years earlier. “Ali has always been a scaredy-cat,” Carole said. “She hates to be picked up, hides when it rains or thunders, won’t get on furniture or your lap, but sleeps at the foot of our bed and loves to play and get petted when ‘in the mood.’”
Once Carole’s neighbors in The Villages learned of her love for animals, it didn’t take long for a friend to convince her to volunteer with YOUR HSSPCA. “I always wanted to help animals,” Carole said. “My only regret is that I didn’t do it a lot sooner.” Carole encourages anyone with a fondness for animals to get involved with the no-kill shelter. “The feeling you get from interacting with the animals, who just want to be loved and cared for, is heartwarming,” Carole said. “One look into their eyes and you melt!”
Carole spends her mornings caring for the adoptable cats and kittens showcased at PetSmart as part of her volunteer efforts. During her time at PetSmart she does a variety of tasks, so things never get boring. When Carole arrives in the morning, she lets the kittens out of their cubbies to run and play. While the felines are amusing themselves, she wipes down the area, feeds them, cleans their litter boxes and refreshes their water.
When the necessities of chores get done, that is when Carole gets to play and cuddle with each little ball of fur. After her heart is full from spending time with the kittens, she moves on to care for the adult cats. “They are so much calmer and laid back than the kitties,” Carole said. “plus, not as much of a mess to clean in the playroom, so there’s more time to love on the cats!”
Carole also interacts with potential adopters, answering questions, letting them meet cat(s) they may be interested in, and sending any completed adoption forms to the shelter’s Outreach Adoption Coordinator for review. “Finally, after washing equipment, sweeping both rooms, emptying the trash and leaving any pertinent notes about any of the felines, it’s time to lock up and remember what a rewarding morning I just had,” Carole said.
Through her years of volunteerism, Carole has made many memories with her fellow volunteers and, of course, the animals in her care. “I remember arriving early at my morning shift at PetSmart a while ago and seeing a woman sitting in the Meet & Greet room quietly holding a tiny kitten close to her, talking to and petting it,” Carole said. “She said she had been the kitten’s foster mom and stopped by to make sure he was doing okay. The love and devotion our volunteers have for all of the animals is so inspiring.”
We are so grateful for Carole and all our dedicated volunteers. We would not be able to do this without them! If you have an interest in volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please give our shelter a call at 352-793-9117 or visit yhsspca.org/volunteer to complete YOUR application.
Congratulations and thank you to Carole, our Volunteer of the Month for February 2021!❤️

January 2021-Lisa Lawrance

We’ve all eagerly awaited the start of a fresh new year and we are ready to see what great things we’ll accomplish in 2021 for many local animals! We are so thankful for everything our volunteers at YOUR Humane Society SPCA contributed to our efforts for the community in 2020 despite so many challenges we all faced. It’s teamwork that makes the dream work!🐾❤️
To kick off 2021, we would like to highlight a very special volunteer. Congratulations to our January 2021 Volunteer of the Month: Lisa Lawrance!
Originally from the Detroit area in Michigan, Lisa spent most of her life there until she retired in 2015. Eventually Lisa and her husband found their way down south to The Villages.
Lisa always has held a soft spot for animals. “When I was 12 my parents got a Dalmatian, named Chipper, for the family” Lisa said. “We also had the usual fish and hamsters. Once I graduated, I purchased an English Springer Spaniel, Patches, which we had for 14 years.”
Currently, Lisa and her husband have one dog named Sydney, a 12 year old Labradoodle. “She is pure black with a bit of gray at the chin with the best brown eyes that have the ability to tell you exactly what she wants,” Lisa said. “She is the best dog.”
For the last three to four years prior to retiring, Lisa knew she wanted to use her extra time to help with animals in some way. “I read online about YOUR HSSPCA and went for an orientation day,” Lisa said. “It was prior to the holidays and a volunteer named Jane was talking about bringing in food for a special holiday meal for the animals. I liked that idea.” Lisa started volunteering from that day on.
Early into her days of volunteering, Lisa couldn’t believe the bonds she formed with the dogs. “I love each and every one,” Lisa said. “Yes, even the most exuberant of them.” Before volunteering, Lisa wondered if she would start thinking of her time spent at YOUR HSSPCA as a job, but that has not happened in the ten months she’s been helping. “I volunteer two days a week and each day I look forward to spending time with the dogs, knowing that it improves their lives a bit with exercise, training, socialization and love,” Lisa said. “I have my process with each one and I probably get more out of it than the dogs. Dogs have such big hearts and I think the saddest thing is when they have no one of their own to share their love with. Volunteering makes me think they can at least give a little bit of that love to me.”
Lisa’s most memorable experiences have been when new dogs come in and some are so shy and fearful. “Spending extra time with then, talking with them, showing them they can trust you,” Lisa said. “When you win them over it is the greatest feeling. Also, great when you are training them and ‘they get it’. I feel that every time they learn something, they are closer to getting adopted.”
Lisa believes that any animal lover could benefit from volunteering. It is so rewarding and there are so many ways to donate your time. “There are many different ways to help if hands on with the animals does not work for you,” Lisa said. There are so many opportunities for volunteers from tie with the animals to fundraising, office help, facility care and landscaping, humane education and more. Why not make 2021 the year of realistic resolutions and spend more time with the animals at YOUR Humane Society SPCA? There are plenty of new friends to make: dogs, cats and even humans! If you’re interested in volunteering, send in your volunteer application at hsspca.org/volunteer or call us at 352-793-9117. We would love to see you at an orientation soon!
Congratulations again to Lisa, our January 2021 Volunteer of the Month❤️

December 2020-Cheryl Lightcap

YOUR Humane Society SPCA could not exist without our volunteers. Every month we choose one of these incredible people to highlight as our Volunteer of the Month. This year we have again featured exceptionally special citizens who donate their time and hearts to the animals in our area. Congratulations to our final Volunteer of the Month for 2020 – December’s Volunteer of the Month, Cheryl Lightcap!❤️
Cheryl grew up in Minneapolis, MN. Throughout her childhood, her family always cared for dogs. Some pups found their way to her as strays, while others were adopted from the local Humane Society. While Cheryl has been a loving caretaker to many pets throughout her life, she currently has two cats that rule the house.🐾
Cheryl’s first cat, Mia (a.k.a. Mistress of Mayhem), came from one of our own adoption events at PetSmart in December 2018. “When I first saw Mia she was out of her kennel wreaking havoc on the other kittens and she never slowed down,” Cheryl said. “I have a very active granddaughter also named Mia so it seemed a perfect fit.”
In March of 2020, Cheryl and her husband thought that wild-woman Mia, might do well with a playmate. That is when Cheryl met Quincy and a special bond was formed. “Quincy was 2 years old, and was a barn cat,” Cheryl said. “He had just come into PetSmart the night before and was still very scared. It took awhile to get him out of his kennel and when I finally did, he followed me while I was cleaning and each time I stopped he laid down on my feet. He came home a few days later.”
Mia quickly took a shine to Quincy and the two became fast friends. Now they spend most of their time playing together. When the two cats need a break from their playtime, they curl up together for snuggles and naps.❤️
Cheryl became involved with volunteering at YOUR HSSPCA after a friend told her what a positive experience it was and convinced her to give it a try. Cheryl fell in love with volunteering as soon as she started. “I love being able to spend time with the kittens and cats and seeing them going to their ‘furever’ homes is such an incredible feeling,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl encourages anyone who may be interested in volunteering to get involved. “Volunteering doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment if you don’t want it to be and there are so many ways to volunteer that there is surely something a person would find fun and rewarding,” Cheryl said. “You can choose to work with cats or dogs or both.” Many other species of animals may come into our care throughout the course of a year so our volunteers may have some more unique animals to help as well.
Volunteering with the animals is rewarding to Cheryl and she loves watching the creatures flourish under her, and her fellow volunteers’ care. “Being able to spend time with the older cats and watch them slowly come out of their shells and see their individual personalities come out is amazing,” Cheryl said. “If I can help them feel safe and secure, it is such a wonderful feeling. Kittens are cute and cuddly, but when we can get potential adopters to see the wonderful gift an older cat can be it is so special.”
Cheryl volunteers in a variety of different roles. In addition to her time spent with the animals at YOUR HSSPCA, she has donated her time to a variety of dinners, bingo nights and kitten adoption events we host.
We are so grateful for Cheryl and all of our many dedicated volunteers. We would not be able to do this without you! If you have an interest in volunteering with us, please give us a call at 352-793-9117 or visit our website hsspca.org and submit YOUR volunteer application. Congratulations again to Cheryl, our Volunteer of the Month for December! We wish all our team and community a happy and healthy holiday season!❤️

November 2020-Carrie Anderson

YOUR Humane Society SPCA is built on a whole lot of love for animals and amazing volunteers. We couldn’t do our lifesaving work without them! Every month we recognize and thank one of these incredible people as our Volunteer of the Month. Congratulations to our November 2020 Volunteer of the Month, Carrie Anderson!
Carrie is originally from Connecticut and began volunteering with us shortly after moving to the area. Carrie has always been fond of felines, starting her love of cats at a very young age.
Currently, Carrie is the fur momma to one special cat: Minnie. While she would love to add a few more cats to her family, Minnie is a bit of a diva. “I would like more cats,” Carrie said. “But, the ‘Queen’ won’t allow it.” Understanding that, Carrie must ultimately do what is right by her Queen, so she spends her time volunteering with the many cats at our no-kill shelter to get her bigger feline fix.
Volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA was an easy choice for Carrie. She has always loved cats and is passionate about finding them good homes and forever families. Carrie also said that spending time with the cats has been good for her soul. “It gives me a boost just to interact with them,” Carrie said. She is enthusiastic in her encouragement of others getting involved with volunteering at the shelter. “Even if you can’t adopt yourself, it’s a way to help the fur babies get adopted and you receive furry love while doing it,” she said.
The furry love Carrie receives is one of the greatest rewards she has experienced from her time volunteering. Knowing that many of these animals have been through a lot, she takes great pride in being accepted by an older cat. “It’s joyful to me to have an adult cat accept me, sit on my lap and purr” Carrie said.
Carrie wouldn’t trade her time at YOUR Humane Society SPCA for anything.
She is well known amongst her fellow volunteers and shelter staff as an All-Star comforter of all cats and kittens. Carrie is also a self-proclaimed “pooper-scooper” expert – a skill that, while not the most glamorous, is invaluable to the daily upkeep of our cats’ accommodations and their well-being.
We are so grateful for Carrie and all our many dedicated volunteers. We would not be able to do this without them! If you have an interest in volunteering with us, please give us a call at 352-793-9117 or visit hsspca.org/volunteer to submit YOUR volunteer application for animal care, fundraising, administrative help or more. Congratulations again to Carrie, our Volunteer of the Month for November!🐾❤️

October 2020-Karen Weber

Every month YOUR Humane Society SPCA highlights volunteers who have made an impact on the lives of the animals we care for, and our organization as a whole. Our Volunteer of the Month for October 2020 is Karen Weber!
Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Karen spent a good part of her childhood on the move. Her father was in retail, and while many people reminisce on a childhood as “army brats,” Karen considered herself a “retail brat,” moving across the country with her family to follow her father’s dream. Karen grew up in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Texas. Her next stop was Los Angeles for a 17-year stay where she attended college at Cal State Fullerton and earned a degree in Psychology and where she got her first cat, Frosty. Karen finally made her way to Florida in 2003 and began working for SECO Energy, where she is still employed today.
Currently, Karen has a cat of her own, 8 year old Gracy, who was rescued from under a shed. Throughout her life, Karen has been the caretaker to many cats, which also included Rose, Leo and Karma.
While Karen has always been an animal lover, it was one hungry feline who showed up at her house several years ago, who led her towards volunteering with us. “She was very friendly, and I fed her,” Karen said. “After a while I noticed that she was pregnant and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know about the Humane Society yet, but once I did, I didn’t want to take her anywhere else.”
Karen couldn’t take the cat in at the time, having three of her own. The friendly, visiting cat ended up having her kittens outside and Karen was bereft when she couldn’t locate them. After a few weeks, Karen was reminded that nature has a way of protecting its offspring. One by one, all the kittens paid Karen a visit.
“Somebody told me about YOUR Humane Society SPCA so I took the momma and her kittens to them and decided then that I needed to be a volunteer,” Karen said. “I’ve been volunteering ever since then – May 2017.”
Karen said her time volunteering has really broadened her horizons. “I meet the most wonderful people,” Karen said. “Especially retirees with the best stories about their lives and retirement. And it’s also great to talk to high school students who volunteer and learn about their aspirations in life. There is a great feeling after you finish your work. Nothing else can even come close to making you feel so good.”
One of Karen’s most memorable moments volunteering was when she met a gentleman named Kris Rotonda, from Jordan’s Way- an organization dedicated to clearing shelters across the country. “Kris stayed overnight in the dog kennels and I brought him breakfast biscuits on the Sunday I volunteered,” Karen said. “He was very grateful! He really brought more attention to what it’s like for the animals.”
While Karen helps out in many ways at YOUR HSSPCA, including walking the dogs, her favorite part of volunteering is working with the cats and kittens. “I am a neat freak and enjoy cleaning and this definitely is a wonderful way to clean,” Karen said. “Also, it’s so much fun, with lots of cats to play with! I love when a cat pulls my hair tie out, or I find one sleeping and they wake up and look at me. And, of course, just the love you feel from all the animals- it’s amazing.”
We are so blessed and grateful to have so many amazing volunteers like Karen. If you want to join our incredible team of compassionate humans at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, contact us at volunteering@hsspca.org or visit hsspca.org/volunteer. The animals will thank you too! Congratulations and thank you to Karen, our October 2020 Volunteer of the Month!

September 2020-Tom Cruise

We are so grateful for our volunteers and the variety of roles they help to fill at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Every day, kind-hearted individuals come to our shelter to care for animals in need of a loving home. This month we would like to highlight one very special volunteer, Tom Cruise, our September 2020 Volunteer of the Month! He’s not the movie star, but he is a star in our eyes!💕
Tom, a retired U.S. Secret Service agent who moved to The Villages in 2016 hails from Brockton, MA. He made sure his kids had a great family dog for 14 years, an adorable Shih-Tzu, named Gizmo, who made himself right at home in Tom’s heart to be followed by many other wonderful pups.
“My oldest daughter taught internationally for years and saved a Golden Retriever (Bella) and mixed breed (Sammy) from the streets of Quito, Ecuador,” Tom said. “They were blessed being saved from the streets and we were blessed to have them.” Tom’s youngest daughter also saved an abandoned Golden Retriever (Olive) from the streets of Istanbul, Turkey two years ago and now she is lovingly spoiled.
While Gizmo and his daughters’ dogs made Tom fall more in love with animals, a dog on the other side of the world changed his life forever. “I spent several years in Iraq during the war and provided for a street dog; a yellow lab named Blanca,” Tom said. “Blanca brought great love and joy into an atmosphere of danger and hardship in a warzone so she left a lifelong impression on me to help homeless dogs.”
Last year, friends, and YOUR Humane Society SPCA volunteers, Becky and Dave, approached Tom because they knew of his love for animals and thought he might be a good fit with us. Initially, Tom was a bit reluctant because he kept a very busy schedule. However, once he started walking our shelter dogs every Sunday he was hooked. “It was addictive because they need love and attention,” Tom said. “The inspiration to help dogs with YOUR Humane Society SPCA was my experience in Iraq and the influence my daughters had on me with their love of saving street dogs.”
There are plenty of homeless pets looking for a walk, a playmate or just someone to love on them at the shelter. “YOUR Humane Society SPCA has many dozens of cats and kittens and usually 20-25 dogs. Each and every one of them is deserving of a loving home,” Tom said. “Volunteers are needed to walk dogs every morning or afternoon 7 days a week.”
Knowing how rewarding volunteering can be, Tom urges anyone considering it to take the jump and get involved. “Although the dogs receive attention and love by the volunteers that they relish I think the volunteers get even more,” Tom said. “It is very rewarding to bring love into the life of a homeless dog and I look forward to every Sunday morning knowing that it will be a day that I’ll bring a little joy into their life and they’ll bring a lot into mine!”
Thank you to all of our volunteers and a special “thanks” to our September 2020 Volunteer of the Month, Tom Cruise! We are truly fortunate to have such devoted people like you! We always welcome more animal loving members to our team to help with a range of needs such as animal care, administrative help, fundraising and more. If you, or your friends and family, are interested in volunteering, contact YOUR Humane Society SPCA at volunteering@hsspca.org or 352-793-9117.🐾❤️

August 2020-Liz Allison

Every month we highlight one of the incredible volunteers who donate their time to YOUR Humane Society SPCA. We are truly blessed with the best volunteers, who help the animals in our care find forever homes. Congratulations to our August 2020 Volunteer of the Month Liz Allison!

Liz is originally from Chicago, but spent time living in California and Australia. She and her husband moved to South Florida in 1985 due to a job transfer, and then retired to The Villages in 2005.

Liz always had cats and dogs throughout her life, but cats are her true passion. Currently, Liz has two wonderful feline boys: Rocky and Casey. They get along famously and love to chase each other and play-fight on Liz’s bed most often while she is trying to sleep! Rocky was a rescue kitten adopted from a Petco a decade ago who is a white-faced, gray tabby and is very svelte and regal looking. He has huge hypnotizing turquoise eyes. Casey, an orange tabby with a white shirtfront and white feet, was adopted from our shelter in 2015. Liz said she always remembers the day she adopted him. “I wanted to get an older cat, not a kitten,” Liz said. “Then this orange fluff of kitten fur walked up to me and I picked him up to give him a little hug. Well, I am still hugging and holding him 5 years later!”

Liz visited our showcased cats at the local retailers and dreamt of adopting them all. She would regularly talk to one of the volunteers who cared for them there and after several conversations, Liz took the first step to making a lifesaving difference mentioning that she wanted to volunteer, and the rest was history. Suddenly, Liz would be able to enjoy all the cats while giving back to her community!

“I always try to encourage people to volunteer, as it is very rewarding,” Liz said. “Getting to know the cats and kittens we have is a wonderful experience, and when one is adopted it is such a beautiful feeling; especially when it is a cat that has been waiting for a while and finally finds their forever home. It brings tears to your eyes.” Liz also volunteers at our shelter office and said it is so nice to meet prospective adopters who are excited to add a new fur baby to their family.

Liz has created many good memories as a volunteer, but a favorite of hers was when she was helping at a “Meet and Greet” adoption event at one of the recreation centers in The Villages and someone fell in love with the dog she was in charge of that morning. That person adopted the dog a few days later thanks to her efforts. In addition, both Liz and the pup were pictured in the local newspaper!

If you have ever considered volunteering, please reach out to us at volunteering@hsspca.org or complete an application at hsspca.org/volunteering. Now is a great time to socially distance yourself from humans and spend some time cuddling with, and caring for, our adoptable animals as a foster home, at our shelter or our local retailers Petsense and PetSmart where our adoptable cats are showcased. They can always use the love and interaction and we could absolutely use your help! Congratulations again, Liz, our August 2020 Volunteer of the Month!❤️

July 2020 – Merry & Joe Feagins

Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to save the lives of the many homeless animals in our county. Every month we highlight one special human who helps YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s mission to care for the homeless animals of our area. This month we are highlighting a very special husband and wife volunteer team! Our July 2020 Volunteers of the Month are Merry and Joe Feagins!


Merry grew up in a small farm town in South Georgia. Many of the farming community’s buildings producing cotton and peanuts often attracted rodents so Mary and her family had an endless supply of cats and kittens to care for. Joe was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. His mother had a soft spot for dogs and he always had a pup in his house growing up. Their families’ love of cats and dogs fostered the couple’s dedication to homeless animals.

Once Merry and Joe had children of their own, a family pet was inevitably on the horizon. While Joe was more fond of dogs and originally resisted the idea of owning a cat (or maybe a cat owning him?), he eventually succumbed to his family’s wishes and was converted to a cat-loving pet owner.

Currently, Merry and Joe have one cat, a grey male named Pilgrim who earned his name when he arrived in their lives near Thanksgiving. Pilgrim is an adoption alumnus from YOUR Humane Society SPCA. He is very loving, but full of mischief and devilment at times. He has a mind of his own and insists on doing things his way, in his own time. 

Merry and Joe both felt it in their hearts to volunteer and care for the homeless cats in Sumter County. “I was raised in a family that believes we should leave the world a better place than we found it,” Merry said. “Animals are gifts to us from the Creator and bring joy and comfort to us as we give to them.”

Joe echoed Merry’s sentiment. “There are so many neglected and homeless animals in the world, and our area is no different,” Joe said. “YOUR Humane Society SPCA is so dedicated to rescuing, caring for, and finding wonderful homes for so many animals in need, that it is incredibility rewarding to be part of that.”

Merry and Joe encourage anyone interested in volunteering to take the leap. “If you like cats, whether you have one or more at home or not, come cuddle a kitten or a cat,” Merry said. “You can choose your time, length of service and day.  You may sit or stand, hug or hold.”

According to Joe, there are enough cats volunteers can help care for at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. “You may play with the young rambunctious ones or stroke the chins of the more sedate adults,” Joe said. “Volunteers are also needed to help with cleaning. That is just as much a labor of love!” Merry and Joe said new volunteers are blessed to meet great staff members and other volunteers donating their time. Meeting these great people with a common passion helped the couple realize they are truly part of a team, helping lost animals find forever homes. 

“Bring a neighbor with you and share the love,” Merry said. Throughout their time volunteering, Merry and Joe created many memories. They both try to keep up with all the cats by name and they discuss the felines with each other as if the cats are their own children. “You learn personalities and try to draw out the timid ones and gentle those who are feistier,” Merry said. 

“We especially love reading the ‘adoption blackboard’ and look for cats who have been with the shelter a long time. Our first case was a lovely yellow tabby named August. You could talk to August but DON’T TOUCH. After years of coaxing by all the staff and volunteers August finally let us stroke him a bit. We knew and prayed he’d find the right owner someday – sure enough he now has his forever home. Stories like this keep you going and we celebrate each adoption as a personal breakthrough.”

Joe finds that the longer a cat stays in the shelter, the deeper connection he develops with them. “Since we have been volunteering, there have been two cats that were in the Catty Shack for well over a year,” Joe said. “As the weeks passed without those cats getting chosen, my sadness for them grew. Finally, the right time and the right person came and each was adopted. I will never forget either of those cats, and how happy I was on the day they were taken to their forever home.”

In addition to spending quality time in the Catty Shack, Merry and Joe are active in volunteering in a variety of other ways. “We are members of the Cat Crazy Villagers Club and have learned a lot about how local shelters are run and what cats need and want out of life,” Merry said. “We also support all YOUR Humane Society SPCA fundraising events but especially enjoy the Kitty Bingos and educational events. Most of all, we enjoy these occasions as the cats are invited to play bingo with the participants.”

If you are cat crazy, or nuts about mutts, or any combination of the two, please consider volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. We welcome you to visit our campus (with an appt. for COVID-19 safety precautions) and see our mission in action. Contact us at volunteering@hsspca.org, call 352-793-9117 and complete YOUR volunteer application at hsspca.org/volunteering. YOUR Humane Society SPCA is a 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill organization helping animals in need throughout their community as Sumter County’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter. Donations directly help to cover the cost of saving, treating and caring for neglected, abused and abandoned animals.

Congratulations and thank you again, Merry and Joe, our July 2020 Volunteers of the Month!

June 2020 – Diana A.

Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to save the lives of the many homeless animals in our county. Every month we highlight one special person who helps YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s mission to care for the homeless animals of our area. This month we celebrate our Volunteer of the Month for June 2020 – Diana Arnold!
Originally from Arbutus, Maryland, Diana grew up with four siblings and her large family always had all kinds of animals: dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chicks, rabbits, etc. Diana’s husband and family started a factory supply business in 1933, where she later worked for 46 years. With the busy lifestyle that came with working for her family’s company, there wasn’t much time to care for a pet. However, after her husband’s passing in 1995, Diane took a step back from her busy work life and revisited her childhood love of animals.
Diana currently has five cats: Sierra, 19; Prince Harry, 7; Buddy, 4; Dana and Beverly, kittens. Dana and Beverly were born on May 3, 2019 and Diana adopted them from YOUR Humane Society SPCA in September 2019.
Diane has been volunteering with our no-kill shelter for nearly four years and loves it. “At the time I began there, YOUR Humane Society SPCA was looking for volunteers to walk the dogs,” Diana said. “I did that for several months until I was asked if I would help in the Catty Shack. Feeding the cats and kittens, cleaning their litter boxes and communal living space, and making sure that they all received lots of love and socialization. After Kitty Wonderland was built, I made sure that all of the kittens received the same treatment as those in our Catty Shack.”
Diana is inspired to volunteer by her love of animals and knowing that they need our help. “Animals are helpless and it is up to us to take care of those that may have had a lovely home, where the owner has passed away, animals that have been thrown out, abused, pregnant and are left to die,” Diana said. “We have a tremendous team at YOUR Humane Society and our main goal is to heal, find loving homes and have the best interest for the welfare of these animals.”
Diana said she loves working with the people at YOUR Humane Society SPCA – both volunteers and staff. “I have the pleasure of working with kennel techs and see what a tremendous job they do in taking care of all of these animals,” Diana said. “They are all to be commended and are so nice to work with and can’t do enough for you when asked.”
Diana urges those interested in volunteering to reach out to YOUR Humane Society SPCA to see what opportunities may be available to donate their time. “It is critical that we have good volunteers who we can depend on and it is so rewarding to know that you helped in giving [the animals] the exercise they need, and it is good exercise for us as well,” Diana said. “If we don’t have the volunteers to help, the dogs have to remain in kennels. And when you hear stories as to how they got there, they just want attention and love. When I see my fur babies in the morning, it makes me smile knowing that I am helping them to get to their ‘furever’ homes.”
Diana has made many wonderful memories over her past four years of volunteering, but one of her favorites is happening right now. “I love watching a cat named Patience and her three babies, along with two babies that she willingly accepted to take care of,” Diana said. “Just watching them grow, learning to play and taking care of them. What a joy knowing that someday they will have a permanent, loving home.”
If you are interested in volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please give us a call at 352-793-9117 or complete a volunteer application from our website at hsspca.org/volunteer. There are so many opportunities and ways to donate your time. Congratulations and thank you Diana Arnold, our June 2020 Volunteer of the Month!

May 2020 – Ginger

Our volunteers are critical to the success of our rescue efforts. Every month we highlight one special person who helps YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s mission to care for the helpless animals of our area. This May we celebrate our Volunteer of the Month – Ginger!

Originally from “across the pond” in London, Ginger has spent much of her life living in various places around the world. While her surroundings have changed through the years, one fact has remained a constant for Ginger – her love of felines.

With such an adventurous spirit, it was only a matter of time before Ginger and her husband found their way to Florida. Ginger started her time in ‘The Sunshine State’ living in West Palm Beach, working in the medical field and volunteering for a local cat rescue organization helping clean the cat housing area and being a foster home. While Ginger admits sending her first foster to a new home was difficult, she said it became easier each time, knowing the cat was going to a loving home and that was the purpose to fostering.

The couple moved to The Villages two years ago, after spending 25 years in West Palm Beach. Ginger found many fellow cat enthusiasts lived in her community and she soon began volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA.

Throughout the years, Ginger has always had a soft spot for feral cats, helping feed them and working with Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) rescues. With YOUR Humane Society SPCA, Ginger volunteers her time helping care for our many cats and kittens and promotes the benefits of TNR for local feral cats who become “community cats” when residents collaboratively care for them.

“My love of Jesus and cats are the most important things in my life,” Ginger said. “[In regards to feral cats] we must start at the bottom wrung of the ladder: controlling the birthrate.”

Ginger is just one of our incredible volunteers who dedicates her time (and heart) to homeless animals at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. We are so fortunate to have such caring people share their time and effort volunteering with us.

If you are interested in volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please contact us at volunteering@hsspca.org or 352-793-9117. There are many ways to help including animal care, fundraising, administrative and more. We are always looking for animal lovers to help us in our efforts to find fur-ever homes for the homeless pets of our area and keep our shelter running. Thank you all for what you do, and congratulations again to Ginger – Our May 2020 Volunteer of the Month!

April 2020 – Shannon K.

YOUR Humane Society SPCA would not be able to save so many animals’ lives in our community without our volunteers. During this COVID-19 crisis, they are still demonstrating their devotion. Many are still able to help walk dogs and care for the cats at our shelter, many opened their homes by fostering cats, kittens, dogs and puppies and some are working from home planning special online activities or donating to them since all our adoption and fundraising events in March and April have been cancelled. One special volunteer who has been at so many fundraising and adoption events this past year is Shannon Kelleigh, our April 2020 Volunteer of the Month!
Shannon was born in a very small area of Connecticut, known as “Upper Stepney Village,” but has been a Florida resident for 55 years. Growing up, Shannon had a German Shepard who started her love for animals. As a young child, Shannon remembered the dog was so tolerant and loving with her family. Shannon said. “He was so protective of us, yet gentle and loving.” Shannon had another dog as an adult who lived a wonderful 16 years with her. “That dog, Irie, will never leave my heart,” Shannon said as tears welled in her eyes. Shannon honors her love of them by continuing to put her heart into volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA. “It’s all about the animals, isn’t it?” Shannon said. “When I see one of them hurting, I hurt. They are so loving, loyal and trusting. I just love them.”
One of the most rewarding parts of volunteering has been meeting the other volunteers and people associated with YOUR Humane Society SPCA. During her time at the shelter, Shannon does a little bit of everything with her fellow volunteers. Shannon works at as many of the events as she can, including bingo nights, dinners, market nights and she fills in for cat care at Petco. If that wasn’t enough, she stepped up to resume the scheduling and supervision of the many tabling events at local Publix groceries until the pandemic changed those plans until further notice
Volunteering her time at YOUR Humane Society SPCA represents a belief Shannon holds close to her heart. “Kindness helps all – human and animal,” Shannon said. “We can learn a lot from animal friends on how to treat each other.”
If you would like to help our local animals find homes and take part in the kindness and love we see every day at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please reach out to us at volunteering@hsspca.org or 352-793-9117. We are always looking for new volunteers with a passion for kindness. Congratulations, Shannon – our April 2020 Volunteer of the Month! We so appreciate you!
YOUR Humane Society SPCA is a 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill organization helping animals in need throughout their community as Sumter County’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter. Donations directly help to cover the cost of saving, treating and caring for neglected, abused and abandoned animals. Learn more about them at hsspca.org, 352-793-9117, on Facebook or visit them at 994 CR 529A, in Lake Panasoffkee, FL. Office open: Mon.-Sat. 8am-4:00pm. Kennel Pet Viewing: Mon.-Sat. 9:00am-3:30pm. Visitors are always welcome however, due to COVID-19 concerns, visitors are required to make an appointment to visit the shelter until further notice.

March 2020 – Gregg Justice

Volunteers who donate their time at YOUR Humane Society SPCA are an integral part of our lifesaving team. This month we are celebrating Gregg Justice, our March 2020 Volunteer of the Month!

Gregg is from Ironton, Ohio – a small town of about 10,000 people that sits right on the Ohio River. We learned that he developed a love and compassion for felines through his mother’s passion for them.

Gregg brought his adoration for animals south, when he moved to The Villages and is now the proud parent to Jake, a cat that showed up at the front door of the nursing home where his mom spent her last three years. “I was told in August of 2010 that my mom only had a couple of days to live, so I spent those last two nights with her,” he explained. “Jake showed up the first night. When my mom passed away, I knew that I had to take Jake home with me. I have always thought Jake has the spirit of my mom in him.” Jake is a great travel companion too. He happily travels with Gregg between The Villages and Ohio and makes an adorable co-pilot!

Gregg believes that animals have a way of knowing which humans will help them – having rescued many cats, dogs and other creatures through the years. About four years ago, Gregg rescued a newborn baby squirrel that was lying curled in a ball in the middle of Morse Boulevard. “That is how I initially found out about YOUR Humane Society SPCA,” Gregg pointed out. “They helped the squirrel and ultimately gave it the chance to return to the wild.”

Gregg urges anyone who may share his love for animals to volunteer their time with YOUR Humane Society SPCA. “A great way to put that love into action is to become a volunteer,” he emphasized. “You will never regret it as you positively affect the lives of many needy, but loving, animals. It can also make you feel more positive when you get started helping the animals. It did so for me.”

Gregg added that fostering several cats has been one of the most rewarding experiences during his time volunteering. He explained “many cats are not ready for adoption when they enter the shelter. I fostered Sherlock, Pookie, Topaz, Dollie and Fancy before I brought Jake to Florida.”

All five of Gregg’s fosters found their forever homes – even Fancy, who started out with a hint of aggression. “Fancy was a very angry cat that hissed and scratched and made work challenging for some of the volunteers and staff at the shelter,” Gregg said. “I agreed to foster her, but I was concerned. When I got her home and let her out of the carrier, she nosed around then hid for an hour. When she finally came out from hiding, she walked around for a minute, then hopped on my lap and started purring. She soon was a Love Bug!”

Gregg wears many hats when volunteering for YOUR Humane Society SPCA. In addition to fostering, he spends much of his volunteer time at Petco in The Villages; one of the three local stores that showcase our shelter’s adoptable cats and kittens. He cleans their cages, feeds them and helps socialize them with positive interaction such as playing or brushing time. He also assists in transports for the shelter and brings donations dropped off back to the shelter in Lake Panasoffkee.

Gregg embodies the love and care that our volunteers demonstrate towards our rescued animals. We are so fortunate to have a community that cares for animals so strongly and volunteers that give their hearts and souls to volunteering with us. If you want to be part of the change you wish to see, please reach out at volunteering@hsspca.org, 352-793-9117 or complete an application at hsspca.org/volunteer. If you are willing to donate your time, there are many volunteering options available such as working with the animals on/off campus, administrative needs, fundraising and more. Congratulations and thank you Gregg – YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s March 2020 Volunteer of the Month!

Feb 2020 – Sylvia Whiteman

Every month we highlight special volunteers who make a positive difference from YOUR Humane Society SPCA and for February, we picked a special sweetheart!

Sylvia is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has called The Villages “home” for quite some time. Throughout Sylvia’s young life, her family always had a dog, which spurred her love of furry friends from the very beginning. In 1988, Sylvia started volunteering by walking dogs after work and on weekends at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. In 2010, Sylvia switched paths and started volunteering at Animal Friends, walking dogs and taking dogs to off-site adoption events. 

Throughout Sylvia’s adult life, she has had five rescued animals from the shelters she volunteered with- three cats and two dogs. Currently Sylvia and her husband Mike have two rescued dogs: a cockapoo and a Labrador from YOUR Humane Society SPCA. “Volunteers were asked to foster a dog during the hurricane and we did,” Sylvia said. “Resulting in a foster failure.” 

Sylvia enjoys walking dogs and meeting others who are kind to animals. “If you want free exercise come and walk a couple of shelter dogs,” Sylvia said.

Sylvia’s dedication to the animals of our area is exemplary. Every month, Sylvia volunteers at our monthly “Meet and Greet” dog adoption events hosted at rotating The Villages regional recreation centers every third Friday. Every week she volunteers at our local PetSmart taking care of our shelter’s showcased cats and walks dogs at special events. Sylvia has also lent her time by volunteering at our tabling events at Brownwood, Lake Sumter and Nancy Lopez information tables where she shares her knowledge of YOUR Humane Society SPCA with more members of the community.

 Sylvia urges everyone she meets to find a way that they can help the animals at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. She emphasizes “Not only can you earn exercise, laughs and new friendships, but the chance to change a life.”  Would you like to be a special pet’s Valentine this year? Volunteer! Contact YOUR Humane Society SPCA at volunteering@hsspca.org, 352-793-9117 or visit www.hsspca.org/volunteer for more info.

Congratulations and thank you to Sylvia Whiteman, our February Volunteer of the Month!

January 2020 – Cheryl Roels

We are launching the New Year by recognizing our very talented and devoted shelter volunteer, Cheryl Roels, as she generously lends her creative talents to us in making lovely gift baskets for special events as well as jumping in to help wherever needed. Cheryl, a self-proclaimed “country girl” living on Buzzard Roost Road in rural Kentucky, grew up on the traditional farm with many animals such as Holstein dairy cows, horses and plenty of dogs and cats. She rode a plow horse helping her father in his many farm chores.

Cheryl and her husband Jeff adopted a little 3-legged Terrier bundle of spunk named Skipper from our no-kill shelter nearly six years ago. Cheryl added, “this wonderful little boy rescued us and he has been nothing short of pure joy. We are thankful he chose us.”

Cheryl’s husband Jeff is a full time volunteer for us also as our Facilities Manager and she jokingly pointed out “if I ever want to see Jeff, I have to volunteer!” This dynamic duo are always finding ways to make a positive impact on the community and its animals. Cheryl mentioned that she believes “it’s in my DNA but it’s probably in the DNA of most Kentuckians” as she grew up with parents that always demonstrated the importance of helping others.

She emphasized, “it’s important for every person to find some way to help, just find ‘YOUR’ way. YOUR Humane Society SPCA has many needs that many people can get involved and connect in some way.”

One of Cheryl’s favorite memories was our “For the Love of Animals” Expo, filled with so many visitors enjoying the educational presentations, adoptable animals, regional non-profits of all kinds, live entertainment, delicious food and local supportive businesses.

Cheryl was a big help at so many of our events. She helped prep our FTL Expo’s the many “wag bags” for participants; put her creative talents to great use with nearly all of the many gift baskets she produced; welcomed guests at our Casino Night; counted thousands of golf balls at our now-retired Golf Ball Drops; and prepped food at our popular Jukebox Bingo and comedy night fundraisers.

Cheryl is someone we certainly appreciate for her devotion and adaptability to find a way to make a positive difference in the lives of local animals. Cheryl, YOUR Humane Society SPCA wishes you a Happy New Year and thank you for all you do! We look forward to more exciting successful events together in 2020 and we invite those in our community to make a New Year’s resolution to get involved and contact us at volunteering@hsspca.org.

December 2019 – Jo Ann E.

We are so grateful for all of our volunteers. To close out 2019, we are proud to celebrate Jo Ann Elmendorf as our December Volunteer of the Month! 

Jo Ann is a self-proclaimed cat lady, always having loved felines from a very young age. Although born in the United States, Jo Ann spent much of her childhood in the province of Quebec and grew up speaking French, so, of course, her first cat had a French name, Ti-Noir, which translate to Little Blackie. Today, Jo Ann and her husband have shared their home with four cats, three of which were adopted in Connecticut and happened to be white (Bubu, Tootsie and Yogie) and Maggie (formerly known as Magnolia), who they recently adopted from Petco.

Jo Ann volunteered in Connecticut for the local humane society for about three years. When Jo Ann and her husband moved to The Villages three years ago, they quickly found themselves amongst fellow animal lovers. Within a few short weeks Jo Ann joined the Cat Crazy Villagers club and started volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Jo Ann credits fellow dental hygienist and YOUR Humane Society volunteer, Louise, for introducing her to our shelter and signing her up. Jo Ann says it has been a wonderful journey so far.  

Although Jo Ann works full-time, she still finds a few hours to donate each week to YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s cats. While she wishes she had more time, Jo Ann enjoys the time she does have with the kitties at PetSmart tremendously! She is proof that no matter how much time you have to give, you can still do so much to help our local animals. Big or small amounts of time make a BIG difference for our homeless animals, no matter what! 

“The kitties at PetSmart bring me joy and peace after a day of work and there’s no better way to start my weekend then with my Saturday morning shift at Petco,” Jo Ann said. “You don’t have to spend much time volunteering. What we need is more people giving a little time. The work is so rewarding! Once I retire, I will still volunteer but in other capacities as well. I can’t wait to do fostering again.”

Every person who donates their time to YOUR HSSPCA is a cherished member of our volunteer family. During the holiday season and all year round, we are reminded of how blessed our no-kill shelter and the animals of Sumter County truly are to have such an incredibly giving community. Congratulations again to Jo Ann, our December Volunteer of the Month! We thank you and wish you a wonderful holiday season!

November 2019 – Pat M.

All of our volunteers help to make YOUR Humane Society SPCA a better and more beautiful place for the homeless animals of Sumter County. Every month we highlight a special volunteer who continues to demonstrate their love and dedication to the animals in our care. For November, our Volunteer of the Month is Pat M.!

Pat grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania- always having cats and dogs in her life. Perpetually an animal lover, it was no surprise that Pat took up fostering when she became acquainted with YOUR HSSPCA.

Pat has recently “fostered to adopt” two dogs through the shelter. One of the dogs has puppies, whom are still nursing, and she plans to foster the pups until they’re old enough to be adopted by loving families. “They’re so incredibly cute,” Pat said. “I also have a wonderful cat that doesn’t seem to mind the dogs at all.”

Pat first learned about our no-kill shelter on a Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Brownwood Square.  We had a table set up and the volunteers there were very friendly and enthusiastic about our shelter. “I don’t recall [the volunteer’s] name, but she gave me a brochure and told me about volunteering. I still haven’t forgotten her heartfelt enthusiasm.” While Pat may not remember the name of the volunteer whom she met that fateful day, her dedication to YOUR HSSPCA has made a huge impact on the furry friends she encounters.

“On my first day at the shelter I met Verena who took the time to help a brand new volunteer,” Pat said. “Verena gave me tips on walking the dogs and took me with her on a delivery of a dog to another shelter. She provided important guidance and since then, Verena and I have become good friends. I’ve met other volunteers there whom I now also call my friends. It’s easy to become friends with people who share a mutual love for the animals.”

Pat encourages anyone interested in the animals of Sumter County, and beyond, to volunteer. “The shelter is so accommodating to volunteers. I feel like I’m welcome any time to come out and walk the dogs who love the extra attention,” Pat said. “And I always feel good afterward, knowing that I made a shelter dog’s day a little better by just taking him on a walk or letting him play in the yard for a little while.”

Congratulations to Pat, our November Volunteer of the Month! We are so grateful to have you help care for our shelter’s animals! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, whether it’s walking dogs, doing office work, maintenance, landscaping, fundraising, cat care or more, contact YOUR Humane Society SPCA at volunteering@hsspca.org, call 352-793-9117 or visit us at 994 CR 529A, Lake Panasoffkee, FL, 33538.

October 2019 – Pat M.

Our volunteers are the soul of YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Every month we honor one of our many dedicated volunteers who donate their time and heart to our organization and, most importantly, to our beloved animals. Congratulations to our October Volunteer of the Month, Pat Montgomery!

Pat, originally from Philadelphia, never had a pet of her own while growing up, but always enjoyed spending time with others’ pets. It wasn’t until Pat married that she became the proud parent of two amazing kittens – Sweetie and Little One. These kitties lived long lives and were just the start of Pat’s growing love for animals. 

Before volunteering with us, Pat dedicated her time to a Naples based cat rescue, knowing volunteering would open her up to new friends. “I volunteered with the goal of making human friends,” Pat said. “Which I did, but of course I can still name the many cats who stole my heart.”

Pat relocated to The Villages and hoped to meet more animal-loving humans through volunteering at YOUR HSSPCA. She met many wonderful people and fell head-over-heels for the animals she cared for. “I thoroughly enjoy helping these little fur babies in my small way,” Pat said. “Whether it be cleaning, feeding them or, best of all, cuddling them.”

One particular cat stole Pat’s heart – MiKi (a.k.a. MIss KItty). Pat failed, in the best way possible, during her time fostering MiKi. She adopted MiKi at 5 years old and has been her official pet-parent for 3 years now. “Miki had a rough time for a bit, but now runs the house and allows me to care for her, on her schedule,” Pat said.

Pat is currently scoping out a new sibling for MiKi during her volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. She is confident she will find the perfect match for her soon.

Pat has so many incredible memories of her time spent at our no-kill shelter that she finds it difficult to pick a favorite. “It’s memorable every time I witness someone or a family taking a kitten or cat to be a member of their family,” Pat said. “I marvel at our co-volunteer Gloria, who oversees the adoptions at our partner locations Petco & PetSmart. Her years of shelter experience and diligence in making the right match time and time again, is impressive to watch but if I had to pick one experience, it would be a cat named Dolly.”

Due to unfortunate circumstances, Dolly was friendly towards very few people and decidedly unfriendly to many. After residing at Petsmart for a long time, a woman came along who wanted only Dolly. Dolly is now with a wonderful understanding and patient family and has become a beloved and affectionate companion. According to Pat, volunteers still talk about Dolly from time-to-time and smile.

Pat urges anyone considering volunteering, to contact us to get involved and help to make a difference. “YOUR Humane Society SPCA is an amazing organization that does so, so much good work,” Pat said. “Volunteering for such an organization and seeing the positive results of a volunteer’s efforts on the innocent lives of so many animals is a blessing both for the volunteer and the animals.”

Congratulations, Pat – Our October 2019 Volunteer of the Month! Contact us at volunteering@hsspca.org to make a difference in YOUR community!

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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!