I had a season of passion for Stephens Ministry. My experience coming alongside many women who needed a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, or a need to get closer to Him for the first time blessed me far more than I feel I blessed the women I met.
Then Professional Women’s Group put me on a board where I became energized by amazing women business owners who taught me the importance of networking with each other to bring business successes, share various skills, and encourage one another in our passions to succeed in whatever we’ve chosen to do in life.
My season with “The ARK” Board for disabled adults grew me in ways I will forever be grateful for. The smiles, hugs, giggles, and kindness of the hearts these men and women shared with me will always remind me how important funding is for their needs. Funding in our world for programs, and research, is paramount for servicing group homes, education, and employment for these incredible souls.
As I write this, a season that is ongoing for me is “Sisterhood Connection Foundation, Inc.” A group of five ladies formed a 501c3 organization to fundraise for ‘needs’ in the Cottonwood/Verde Valley of Arizona. “Needs?” you may ask? Well, when I first joined, I imagined a group of ladies having lunches and dinners to discuss a project or take a meal to a shut-in. Never in my wildest dreams could I have known the power these women held. Soon, the five grew to fifty! The ‘needs’ came flying in during late 2019 through Covid days, 2020, and 2021. We assisted with mortgage payments, hospital bills, shelter for homeless and battered women, surgeries, Chemo treatments, doctor bills, food, toilet paper, job opportunities, rent, veterans, animal care, and more which could fill the page. I often wonder if there is anyone in the Verde Valley who hasn’t been affected by the kindness and determination of this incredible organization.
Where is Alice now? For the last year, I’ve been asking this question often. It seems God has decided to put me in a season to give back to my community with my entire being, to a totally different cause, animals! I have served on our local Verde Valley Humane Society for nearly three years. Once a month, meeting to discuss the financial health of a non-profit, gauge its yearly successes, contribute and be involved in fundraising events, etc., seemed like something I could handle. This year, in 2022, I became Board Chair. This year, 2022, we lost our ED of the past five years and found our shelter in a crisis situation. During the Covid pandemic, companies have struggled all over the United States. Our shelter has been no exception. We lost an entire group of kennel help and office staff. Donors’ pockets have been stitched shorter or completely closed. Shelters, ours included, have become overpopulated and short-staffed. Animals have been dropped off in boxes, brought in by animal control officers from hoarding situations found in deplorable conditions, and surrendered by folks unable to feed and take care of them. I have been immersed in this since March 22, seven days a week, eight hours a day. I can absolutely say, “the average human being cannot possibly know what a day in the life of a shelter is like unless they spend a few days in an animal shelter. It can be quiet and unassuming for one minute, just an ordinary front desk atmosphere in a business. The next minute fourteen people might walk into the building, each needing something different; maybe wanting a dog, a cat, or need to surrender a dog or a cat… or a bunny, a guinea pig. Animal control drives up to deliver a stray dog or a hoard of seventeen dogs, a cat….maybe even an iguana or a duck! (Our Animal Control Officers are to be commended and praised for the tough job they face daily.) The front desk is now handling adoptions, intake from officers, phones ring, someone shops in the lobby store, and a child cries or squeals in the background because the staff just brought out a puppy for a potential adopter. Then, there are the “lookie Loos” who just want to ‘see’ all the animals without any intention of actually adopting, which has caused many shelters to go to appointments only because of the stress it puts on the dogs in particular. Stress can cause sickness and behavioral issues. Few shelters have sufficient staff to walk with people down the halls to ensure hands are kept away from kennels, etc., which can become a liability. Of course, the staff is also faced with disgruntled individuals who don’t seem to understand this. (Our shelter, in particular, will accomodate a potential adopter who arrives without an appointment, provided our Animal Specialist is in-house.) Our staff turns into counselors, the person who comes in hysterical that they need to surrender a pet because they can’t afford the vet for treatment. We solve it by having a special fund where we can help them keep a pet and pay for the treatment. Our shelter also tries to have a mobile Spay and Neuter Clinic every three months if we can find donors to defray the cost, and our community can sign up for animals up to fifty pounds for $30. We partner with Manzanita Foods as often as we can to offer pet food on the same day Manzanita offers people food as an outreach to our community. We offer senior and vet discounts.
I’ve become a ‘momma bear’ toward animals. My heart aches for the beautiful animals who get overlooked because of their breed and discriminated against. It’s not just people who are faced with discrimination. Shame on us! I can honestly say that we have a staff member whose main goal is to match an animal as perfectly as possible with the best adopter for a ‘furever’ loving home. Her long-term experience in animal behavior gives her the edge over an adopter who has not had this experience. Therefore, some potential adopters might leave empty-handed after thinking they’ve found their match. Our goal is to let our animals leave the shelter with a strong feeling they will never be returned. We require a ‘meet and greet’ if an adopter has other dogs in their family for this reason as well, to make sure the animals get along, will become buddies and harmony continues within a household.
So….where is Alice? I’m right where I’ve been placed for this season. Loving on “my people,” my board, our entire staff, and volunteers at our amazing Verde Valley Humane Society. I’m right in ‘the thick’ of ‘it,’ and it makes me feel good to see how devoted and supportive they are to one another and to each and every individual who walks through our shelter doors! Every day becomes smoother, and I can feel my season starting to wain…at least every eight-hour day. However, I remain steadfast in my commitment to the board, staff, and shelter operations. This may be a forever season, just as I feel Sisterhood Connection Foundation will be. I’m fine with this, Lord. Just give me the energy and passion to fulfill it with all I’ve left.