Volunteers of the Month
April 2021-Lisa Zeller
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
January 2021-Lisa Lawrance
December 2020-Cheryl Lightcap
November 2020-Carrie Anderson
October 2020-Karen Weber
September 2020-Tom Cruise
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to make a difference in YOUR community!
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!
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!