Volunteer of the Month

A real sweetheart on YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s team of volunteers is Terry Raley and we felt it was apropos to recognize her as our February Volunteer of the Month.
Terry was born and raised in South Jersey and cannot remember a time when she wasn't around animals. She always had multiple dogs in her home and inherited a love for animals mainly from her grandfather. She fondly remembers how he packed two lunches each day, one for himself and one for the birds and squirrels he would feed daily at the local high school where he worked. As if that wasn’t compassionate enough, Terry tells us that he would come home and also feed the squirrels and birds dinner on the lot next to their house before he would eat his own dinner. We now see where she gets her great compassion for animals.

Terry and her family currently have three rescued dogs. Ally and Abby are a mother/daughter duo of Feist/Italian Greyhound mixes that were rescued from a kill shelter in Alabama. Little Man, aka Manny, is a Chihuahua mix who is a real yapper who ended up in a county shelter before Terry found him. The three are incredibly bonded and go everywhere together.

Terry explained “my love for animals is what inspires me to volunteer. All animals need love, care and attention but shelter animals need lots of extra care, hugs and kisses as they have been left behind. All should be spoiled as they search to find their forever home.” Terry explained what inspired her to encourage others to get involved. "Animal rescue is a wonderful cause and if you love them, it is very rewarding for yourself and the animals. There is a lot of hard work behind the scenes at a shelter that you would never know about if you weren’t part of it. There are lots of great people there all working for the same reason. It is a great group to work together with for the same cause. Whatever you would choose to do improves the animal's stay at the shelter."

Terry added that all her experiences are fun and rewarding. She said "every time I am out there fundraising, I am amazed at how generous people are. Everyone that walks up to the table is very caring whether they have animals or not. They offer money, food or items for the animals, all of which is needed and appreciated."
With so many ways volunteers can help, Terry shared that she initially walked the dogs and then got into fundraising where she volunteers now. She points out that "if you don’t want to walk dogs or fundraise, there is a job for everyone at the shelter. Young or old there is something there for you to do. There are lots of cats and dogs that would love to see you even if you just stop in for a hug or kiss."

To make a lifesaving difference as a shelter volunteer with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, simply fill out an application at As Terry pointed out, there are many ways to help such as fundraising at special events, walking dogs, caring for cats, clerical work, gardening, laundry, donation pickups and more. Volunteer orientations are monthly and those with completed applications will be notified when to attend the next one.

Thank you Terry for the great gift of YOUR time and compassion for Sumter's animals in need!

As we begin our 41st year helping animals, it is because of kind people who give of their time that make it possible for us to have served our community for so long. Sharon Parks is one of those treasured people who make the saying true: "Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!"

Sharon recalls when, as a child, it was the times sadly when pet dogs were left outdoors all the time with less regard for their well-being. But fortunately, her father cared enough to make their family dog, named Ring, an insulated doghouse to keep him comfortable and safe. Sharon realizes now that pets shouldn’t be kept outdoors unless they have appropriate protective housing and are safe from potential dangers. Once family returns home, they should reunite indoors together rather than relegating them to a lonely life outdoors instead of being with their pack family. Sharon’s current pet is a tabby cat named Scampie, who she adopted from our shelter a couple of years ago. He is an affectionate cat who has proven to be a wonderful companion full of personality.
As active as Sharon was, she was searching for more interesting activities to fill her week and she responded to one of our local newspaper stories mentioning the need for volunteers (psst … we can always use more!) so she submitted her application and attended our volunteer orientation. While she loves all animals, she homed in on becoming a “cat cuddler” which helps some of our less-socialized cats learn to enjoy the company of people and soon become the best snugglers anyone would want to adopt. Sharon also partakes in the online training offered for our volunteers as a Fear Free Shelter to learn more ways to help shelter pets.

Sharon encourages anyone who might be interested to reach out and contact our shelter or come by for a visit and see if this is something they may enjoy. After all, who could argue that helping save lives, meeting other compassionate people with a common love of animals and making new friends, both human and furry, isn’t all a great way to start the new year? Sharon added that “there are many experienced and loving volunteers in this interesting organization that I’m sure anyone would enjoy volunteering.”
The most memorable experiences Sharon recounts are when she sees shy kitties become more confident and sweeter. It is life changing for them and apparently her too! Cuddling cats at the shelter isn’t her only cuddle time but she also helps out occasionally to help those at our other cat adoption showcases at PetSmart on Wedgewood Lane and Petsense on Canal St., both in The Villages. And if that wasn’t enough, Sharon helps at special events such as our Lights of Love holiday fundraiser.

Thank you Sharon for starting 2023 as our Volunteer of the Month! If you are interested in enriching YOUR life by becoming a volunteer, contact us at or at 352-793-9117. Applications can be completed online at There are many ways to help make a difference in your community!
#yhsspca  #volunteer  #animalsheltervolunteer

There is so much “behind the kennel door” work performed by our volunteers to help us keep helping our animals. It involves more than hands-on help walking dogs, cleaning litter boxes, laundry, training, etc. It takes lifesaving funding to keep those kennel doors open and to meet the needs of animals and their people across our community. One important role is that of a volunteer willing to write grants. You may have seen signs at the large pet supply stores about donating a few extra dollars to their foundation. Those donations allow shelters, like us, to apply for grants to help our furry residents.

Pauline Garber is our December Volunteer of the Month for her tireless efforts to write and write and write many various grant applications to help fund our work. It is an effort that takes a great deal of time, research and attention to detail in order to submit a grant application that will be accepted for consideration.

Pauline hails from Philadelphia, PA and she and her husband, Brad, met in college. In graduate school, they headed in different directions, but reconnected and married in 1975. Unfortunately, except for their collection of fish, they do not have pets as Brad is extremely allergic. Such a shame!

Growing up, Pauline tells us she thought of herself as a “dog person” as she grew up with her family pet, Lady. Then, she met “Chip the Cat” at a bookstore in CT who changed her perception of cats as he overtly displayed so much affection. He would jump in her lap, roll over, purr and let her rub his belly.

At volunteer orientation, Pauline realized that writing grants could play an important role in the financial health of YOUR Humane Society SPCA. When asked why she volunteers, she enthusiastically tells us, “What inspires my volunteering ---the animals, of course! For several months before heading to spend the summer in Connecticut, I visited the shelter on a regular basis and, of course, played with the current collection of cats and dogs. Even while out-of-town, I am able to continue to help by writing grant applications.” Pauline collaborates with the Fundraising Chairperson, finding eligible grant opportunities and develop comprehensive grant applications. We have been fortunate in obtaining new funding resources for the shelter such as a recent $20,000 grant from Florida Animal Friend to fund spay/neuter vouchers for Sumter County’s qualifying pets.”

Pauline’s kind words are genuine as she said, “If you want to spend some very rewarding time with great people and with appreciative animals, please find time to volunteer at YOUR HSSPCA!” Thank you, Pauline, for your tireless and dedicated efforts to work behind the scenes to help save lives!

We always welcome and need more volunteers to have a greater impact across our community. If you are interested in beginning the new year meeting other compassionate people motivated to make positive change, contact us at 352-793-9117 or complete your volunteer application at and we’ll get you set up for our January volunteer orientation. Give one a day a week or just a few days a month. There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, dog walking and basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, cat care at any of our locations, fundraising, gardening, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, special events, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents! 

As far as Rich can remember, having dogs was simply part of everyone’s life growing up in Long Island, NY. He tells us that the care of their dogs helped foster responsibility by the structure and regular routines required for pet care. This philosophy and commitment carried him through his military career as well as the years he and his wife were raising their family. Now, ALL the adult children have dogs!

Last year, one of their canine family passed away and they didn’t feel it was a good time to add additional pets due to extensive travel plans. Then, a neighbor mentioned volunteering at YOUR Humane Society SPCA as a way, if you’re not going to adopt any more pets, to make a shelter dog's life better and Rich eagerly joined our legion of our incredible volunteers.

He told us, “Time is spent walking, playing, socializing, giving one-on-one TLC and generally interacting with the dogs which benefits both the animals and the volunteers. There is great satisfaction that can be found in making a difference to an animal's life. When you volunteer at a shelter, one of the first things you’ll realize is how refreshing it is to be surrounded by people who are committed to the work they are doing. Everyone who donates time at a shelter is using their free time to help save animals, and that can be a way to connect with your fellow volunteers. Whether they have an outgoing personality or are shy, everyone is at a shelter to help make a difference. It can be a real change in attitude to what many of us see in our daily lives!”

Rich and his wife currently have three pets. Monkee, an 11 y.o. pit bull, resembles a little primate, thus earning her name. Their other pet, Ashley, a brown/black short-haired tabby, picked Rich and has given him the privilege of providing her daily brushings and Java, a 3-year-old black Shepherd/Lab mix who was at our shelter for some time. Rich couldn’t believe he wasn’t adopted because he was very well behaved and knew basic commands and tricks too. When a fellow volunteer commented that Java would look good in their backyard … that’s when Java went home!

As many volunteers share their most memorable experience, it is predominately the experience of learning of the adoption of one of the shelter residents. While it can personally be sad not seeing that face each day, there is always another shelter pet ready to absorb all the love that our volunteers provide. We often tell volunteers that we would love to never see the same animal a second time as it would mean more got adopted sooner than later.

Rich can also be found volunteering at various dog adoption events and sharing his knowledge of the pets he worked with during his volunteer visits as well as the incredible work of the staff and volunteers. We thank you Rich for all your great work and devotion as it has been life-changing for so many animals who were waiting for a new family.

To volunteer at YOUR Humane Society SPCA and make a positive impact the way our Volunteer of the Month for November, Rich DeSalvo has, contact us at or complete an application here on our website. Volunteers can work with the animals, help in our admin. areas, fundraise, and contribute in many other ways.

Our October Volunteer of the Month, Wendy Miller, comes from a military family and typically, moved many times until landing back in Florida. A year after graduation, she carried on the family tradition and became a member of the valiant and brave who serve our country. When not living in the barracks, she shared her home with parakeets, cats, and dogs.

Now, Wendy and her husband have an 18-year-old black cat, Jade, and Jasper, a 5-year-old Catahoula Leopard dog. She proudly tells us they BOTH travel with them on family vacations. Jasper is a certified therapy dog and was a favorite regular visitor at local nursing homes before Covid-19.

While keeping active with golf and the local bicycle club upon retirement, her mission was to give back for all the blessings in her life. Her focus, something closest to her heart, was to make a difference for shelter dogs.

Wendy is always eager to introduce new volunteers to our work and show them how many opportunities are available for every age, experience, and time commitment. We help match each volunteer with the best suited dog to match their comfort level while handling them.

When asked about her favorite activity, Wendy exclaimed, “There are so many that help us learn about the dogs while WE have fun! I love getting three or four dogs in a play group to watch their interactions and to make ‘a tired dog, a happy dog.’ It’s a great opportunity to watch canine relationships and to be able to tell prospective adopters about the many great qualities of a particular dog including dog-to-dog interactions.”

Wendy also explained about the importance of increasing our shelter dogs’ adoptability and the benefits of our Doggy Day Out Field Trip program. “When we take the dogs for a walk or to play in our fenced yards, we are utilizing this time to work on basic commands. So many of the dogs already know commands and are so smart and eager to learn. Field trips are an important part of learning about the dogs we care for. They all are so happy when they get to spend time away on a field trip and then come back to the shelter for rest. I even bring them to my home to get them used to being in a home environment.”

Volunteers often get to see the “full circle” of a cat or dog in our program – meaning from the time of intake to adoption. Wendy got to experience this firsthand and shares her experience with one of our larger snuggle bugs, Amos.

“I admit that I was a little nervous around Amos. He became SO excited when I came to take him out of the kennel.” Wendy discovered that once Amos was out of his kennel, he was the calmest dog and was so smart and eager to please. “It took some time to see his playful and affectionate side. I took him out on field trips, and he was so good when meeting people and other dogs, so we introduced him to dog playgroups, and this is where he shined. The first time he was taken to a ‘meet and greet’ at a Villages Rec. Center, a lady and her little dog watched Amos… and then adopted him! It makes me feel so good to know he has a wonderful home. Recently, on a club bike ride, I came upon Amos, his little friend and his new ‘mom’ taking a walk… THIS is what it's all about! I love working and spending time with these wonderful creatures to help them finally get a home. It is a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity.”

Wendy, along with our gratitude for your service to our country, we thank you for helping so many dogs enjoy their time while in our care, and for helping us give potential adopters some more insight about their new furry family members! You’ve certainly met your goal to make a difference in the lives of the dogs here at YOUR Humane Society SPCA!

If you are interested in volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please give us a call at 352-793-9117 or email There are so many ways to donate your time and save a life.

Photo caption: Wendy Miller with adoptable shelter dog Milo.

Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to save the lives of the many homeless animals in our County. We highlight one special person every month who helps YOUR Humane Society SPCA meet our mission to protect animals in our area. We are celebrating our Volunteer of the Month for September 2022 - Pattie Black Schott!

As a child, Pattie traveled back and forth between her hometown of Philadelphia and Florida. Just like any child, each year, she hoped for a dog for Christmas, then finally, when she was 15, her boyfriend presented her with a Toy Poodle she named Charlie. It was instant love. Once, as a pup, Charlie got sick, so Pattie took him on the public transit bus to the vet as she had no clue you weren’t supposed to do this. Pattie says, “Charlie and I loved riding the bus, but one day a bus driver informed me that I wasn’t allowed to bring a dog on the bus. I had to tell Charlie his bus riding days were over, but we laughed and laughed about the fun we had!”

As an adult she has lived permanently in Florida - Tampa, Brandon and finally in Lake Panasoffkee where she ultimately found YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Pattie says, “My love for dogs continues and I have four very special dogs with very different personalities.” Aspen, Buddy, Itty Bitty, who are all older dogs, and her newest love, Lola, who she adopted from YOUR Humane Society SPCA. She says, “maybe I should have named her “pip” as she sure keeps our seniors active!”  

Pattie was inspired to volunteer for several reasons – her love for all animals and YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s mission to protect animals. Pattie says, “for me, it is a win-win situation. I get unconditional love and every animal gets love in return. This is very rewarding as some of the animals have never had anyone fuss over them or shower them with love.”

Pattie has organized and spearheaded other projects as well, such as fundraising and overseeing our 2022 major garden and beautification project. She approached several local businesses and found their generosity to be amazing. Pattie explains that to make the garden bloom, she and a few Master Gardeners who all happened to volunteer at our shelter, put their all into the project to make it beautiful and special. They spread soil and mulch, dug trenches, and even laid a soaker system. She also helps with maintenance as well as organizing and overseeing Girl Scouts who volunteer to keep the garden beautiful.

Pattie initially worked as a volunteer in our busy office at the time of this nomination and when a paying position recently opened, she became one of our administrative employees. She has since become the “Jill-of-all trades” handling many duties. Pattie states, “my time at ‘YOUR Humane’ is relaxing, fun and gratifying because everyone is so committed to the same goal.”  

Congratulations to Pattie Black Schott, our September 2022 Volunteer of the Month! If you are interested in volunteering with YOUR Humane Society SPCA, please give us a call at 352-793-9117 or email There are so many ways to donate your time.

We are privileged to have many transplants from across our country who make Florida their new home and take time in their retirement to help in their new community. Our August Volunteer of the Month, Joe Nizolak, is one of those kind people. This “Jersey Boy” from Point Pleasant can still easily reach either the Gulf or the Atlantic if he needs sand between his toes…but at our shelter, it’s cat litter on many days and he doesn’t mind at all.

Joe and his family always had a dog, but no cats, as his mom wasn’t too fond of them then, until she met his cats and quickly fell in love with them. Their very intelligent Shepherd mix, aptly named Sheppy, was his responsibility and Joe thinks his dog helped to develop his ability to empathize as well as become a better caregiver for others.

Joe and his wife, Ruth-Marie, have a full furry house now with four cats and a dog. Tucker, their 11-year-old, gentle Labrador that they adopted in 2013 is known throughout their neighborhood by greeting everyone and showing off his toy held securely in his mouth… but not quite willing to share it. Milo is their 13-year-old Maine Coon they adopted when they lived in Washington state. He is their “resident masseuse” as he will knead on you for hours. Harley, a recent addition, is a beautiful Himalayan/Maine Coon who loves to help himself to a medium rare steak if it is on the “people” menu. Joe adds that “he's a big boy and if you are not paying attention, he will grab your steak and run off with it!” Teddy and Smokey Bear, their Teacup Persian siblings are inseparable, but have very differing personalities. Joe explains that “Smokey is completely ‘his own little man’ and will interact with you only when he absolutely must - like when he wants a treat! Teddy, on the other hand, loves attention and will flop down on the bed next to you for petting and head noogies! When he's had his fix, he will race out of the room and find one of his catnip stuffed mice to bring back to you as a gift for your attention.”

Joe shares why volunteering is important to him and for the animals in our care. “The work that the shelter does is reason enough to volunteer! I really enjoy helping animals and think our shelter does a much better job than many others I've visited. I've never seen a shelter with a "Catty Shack" or "Kitten Wonderland" where the cats get to roam freely and enjoy life while awaiting their fur-ever homes.”

Joe added that there are many ways to help the animals feel comfortable and safe until their adoption day. He points out that the basics of cleaning, feeding, and watering are personally rewarding when you see them living healthily and happily while there. Even something as mundane as laundry is rewarding because he’s sure the pets appreciate having clean blankets and beds to sleep on. Joe adds that the chores and the hands-on nurturing time are all “integral parts in the happiness, security, and trust with the animals. They need you and will show their appreciation. They depend on us and Karma smiles on you when you help those who need someone to care for them!”

A special memory for Joe was on the adoption day of his cats Teddy and Smokey. “While it may be a little selfish, MY best moment at the shelter was seeing them for the first time when I picked them up to bring home. I think they knew their new lives were about to start.” Ruth-Marie immediately fell in love with them as did Tucker. He attributes the cats’ quick acclimation and comfort in their home “because of the work done by many shelter volunteers.”

For Joe, each day at YOUR Humane Society SPCA forges great memories; Harley, the shelter’s campus cat, makes a point to greet him as he walks up to the Catty Shack or Mushu gently taps him for attention, and Scooter delivers his own monologue as Joe takes care of their outside boxes. Time with other team volunteers with common interests have formed new friendships and Joe considers this a special blessing too. Along with helping tend to the cats and kittens on our campus, Joe collects pet supplies and food donations from other Villagers and helps spread the word about our shelter’s events across social media and through word of mouth. His efforts and compassion are truly valued and deserve the recognition.

If you are interested in becoming a lifesaver, let us know YOUR talents and interests and we’ll have you join our great team of animal lovers! There are so many opportunities for volunteers from time with the animals to fundraising, office help, facility care and landscaping, humane education and more. There are plenty of new friends to make: dogs, cats and even humans! If you’re interested in volunteering, email us at or call us at 352-793-9117. We would love to see you at an orientation soon!

Devoted volunteers are a big part of what makes our organization successful. People like Cathy Krueger, our Volunteer of the Month for July 2022, show their compassion and dedication to improving the lives of animals each day and we can’t have enough good people like them on our team.

While Cathy always had dogs when growing up in Minnesota, her “feline fixation” began at an early age when she and her brothers were trying to bring home rescued kittens. Then later in life, her soon-to-be husband, Dale, who grew up on a farm, wasn’t accustomed to having a cat in the house, but soon learned it was a nice addition. Their “animal family” after marriage consisted of a Basset Hound and a cockatiel. Then, Cathy and Dale ended up adopting one of their son’s cats and that’s when she found out Dale was really a cat lover underneath all that dog hair and he became a purr-fect cat dad!

Adoption has always been a driving factor in their lives, with many treasured cats in their menagerie from sibling Himalayans named, what else, but “Hima” and Laya, to now their Tuxedo named Boo and their miniature black panther, Shadow.

Being cat and kitten obsessed, Cathy joined the Cat Crazy Villagers Club and quickly met many volunteers who worked in various aspects of companion animal rescue and some that gave their time to YOUR Humane Society SPCA. Cathy mentioned that “their stories of successes and rewards made me want to be part of that work. I love being able to help socialize the cats and kittens as a cat cuddler so they will find loving homes!”

Cathy, like many others prospective volunteers, had expressed the universal concern of “I can’t do it because I will fall in love and bring them all home” but she then explained that “when you report for your next volunteer assignment and find one of those felines found a wonderful furever home, well, it’s just a perfect ending to the work you put into helping these fantastic felines!” She added that “every time I get a ‘nose bump’ from a kitten or cat, and see their daily progress in socializing, it is a reward hard to put into words.”

Cathy has seen from her time with YOUR Humane Society SPCA that there are so many other ways to make a difference even if volunteers don’t work directly with the animals. She has helped raise money selling merchandise, helped at bingo events and at the annual Lights of Love fundraiser each holiday season which really brings the holiday spirit into the hearts of people who can learn about the wonderful work of YOUR Humane Society SPCA.

If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction from helping change the life of an animal, 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 There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, offering dog walking, basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, fundraising at our tabling events, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents! We have reached 40 years in 2022 and it is largely in part because of caring volunteers like Cathy Krueger, our Volunteer of the Month this July 2022!

Our shelter appreciates all our volunteers as they give from their hearts, but we have had a handful of extra special volunteers that take on tasks more than the average helper over the years and only three individuals have been recognized as our Volunteer of the Month a second time. Lisa Lawrance now joins that group of extra special people who have taken on more responsibilities to keep things flowing when the needs arise.

Lisa was born and raised in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. While “pets” (fish and hamsters) were always part of the family life, at age 13, her parents felt that she and her brother were old enough to manage the responsibility of a dog. A true family affair, they came together to decide on the breed, sex and name. So, Chipper, a full-of-energy Dalmatian, joined the family. Lisa and her brother had ALL the fun while “mom” had the responsibility of raising a well-manned family member. As an adult, her first dog was a very smart, active and loving English Springer Spaniel named Patches.

Today, Lisa and her husband have a 14-year-old-female miniature Labradoodle named Sydney and feel like they hit the doggie-lotto because she fit in so quickly and so well. “Bob took on the task of training her to ‘not go on furniture’, so after about three attempts, Sydney realized that she got a treat when she got off the sofa. So, now that WE are trained, Sydney jumps on the furniture, jumps off, sits, and waits for her treat.”

Lisa walks Sydney up to an hour every day for exercise, enrichment and keeping her engaged in loving every minute of every day, just as she does for all the dogs at the YHSSPCA!

When asked about her time volunteering, Lisa said, “I hear from people I talk to about the shelter that ‘You are special’ and ‘I could never go there and see all the sad dogs.” My response is always the same: “YOU will come out of it a better person.”

“Once there, you realize that without volunteers, the animals’ lives would not be as enriched and active as they are. It is essential for all the animals to have daily exercise and socialization so that potential adopters can see the wonderful personalities of each animal. Sure, I have spent my share of time crying over some of our dogs that are passed over for smaller, younger dogs, but while these dogs are with us, I can play a role in making their daily lives enjoyable.”

Lisa’s most memorable events are many, but none more so than caring for a shy or shut-down dog that is afraid to leave the kennel. “When volunteers sit with them, perhaps read to them, or simply talk to them, watching those few steps forward is truly a wonderful experience. Whether reading, or our newest venture – providing live music by a volunteer – we strive to bring each dog to his or her full potential.”

We make sure to match the dogs with the skill level of the volunteers. Those volunteers, like Lisa, with more experience and dog interaction skills, may work with “staff only” dogs. These are dogs not immediately ready for adoption and may have some habits or behaviors we address prior to adoption. Lisa is now working with our team on an enrichment program as well as developing games to stimulate the minds and senses of the dogs awaiting adoption.

Lisa is also a valuable member of our Humane Education Committee who handles ambassador dogs at special school events or clubs for local children ranging from K-12. Topics include career days and working with animals as well as responsible pet ownership.

As you can see, so much goes into the journey of each dog and with volunteers like Lisa, we can be sure every pet is achieving his or her full potential. If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction from helping change the life of an animal, 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 There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, offering dog walking, basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, fundraising at our tabling events, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents! We have reached 40 years in 2022 and it is largely in part because of caring volunteers like Lisa! Will you be our next Volunteer of the Month?

Our May Volunteers of the Month cherish their parent/child time together as it is meaningful work for each of them. Nikki Zmudzinski-Hume partners with her young son, Mason, to help enrich the lives of the dogs at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. We recognize them as our May Volunteers of the Month for the time, energy and compassion given to our dogs as they await their fur-ever homes.

Nikki fondly recounts the story of how they acquired their furry family members “When Mason and I lived in Michigan, there were always at least three or four dogs in our lives at one time. My first dog “as an adult” was a big yellow Lab named Henry. Henry loved my son Mason before he was born and would literally sleep next to the crib before it even had a baby in it. We lost our sweet Henry unexpectedly about a year before we left Michigan. One day my husband suggested we go to the local humane society and just look.”

The family asked the shelter to “meet and greet” two dogs who caught their attention. The first was a scruffy blonde dog and Nikki knew immediately that her spunky and energetic attitude was for her. The other dog they asked to see was a small black and white dog who was found as a stray, heartworm positive AND pregnant!

Nikki was concerned about adopting the pregnant dog because of unknown history, so imagine her surprise when her husband said, “we’ll take them both.” So, off they went! She adds “The blonde who became our Trixie Marie, continued to be her spunky self on the way home. The black and white dog who is now our Penelope Rose LaRue (LaRue is French for “the street”) had doggie morning sickness in the car on the way home. Once they were home and I let them out of their crates, Penelope ran up and jumped on my lap, tail a wagging….and she has been my best friend ever since.”

Nikki added that she likes to tell this story because if you would have told her that the scared little pregnant dog in the corner who she was afraid to touch, would be the most loving, loyal companion she ever had, she would have told you that you were crazy. And she adds that Penelope is wonderful with Mason; so, she learned a very valuable lesson that day. “Prior to our current dogs, I had never adopted from a shelter. My opinion has forever changed because of this wonderful experience which led us to want to help more dogs reach a wonderful new life.”

Nikki points out that she works full-time and “I’m constantly overwhelmed with meetings, appointments, and responsibilities of daily life. Even on days I’m tired and want to stay home, I meet my promise to help the animals because those dogs are counting on us. And, I NEVER regret it. My time never feels ‘like a job’ because the dogs are SO excited to see us and the other volunteers! The staff and other volunteers are amazing. Everyone is there because they want to be and because they care about the animals.”

Nikki reflects on a favorite memory while volunteering with Mason at YOUR Humane Society SPCA and it was with a dog named Dixie. “Dixie loved attention, but we quickly discovered she loved Coca-Cola even more! Mason’s favorite story to tell is how whenever he had a Coca-Cola, Dixie became his shadow, whether she was following him or deciding to sit on top of him in a chair, she was there.”

She points out how the quality time together is re-energizing. “Mason and I are dog walkers every Sunday afternoon. We get away from the screens, TV, video games and take the dogs out on walks or in the play yards. It is a wonderful way to give back while having a wonderful time with Mason and the other volunteers who work so hard to help every dog have a wonderful new beginning.”

If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction from helping change the life of an animal the way Nikki and Mason do, 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 There are many ways to help, such as fostering a pet, offering dog walking, basic obedience, socializing and grooming pets, helping Admin. in the office, fundraising at our tabling events, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents! We have reached 40 years in 2022 and it is largely in part because of caring volunteers like Nikki and Mason!

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and one special person we recognize at YOUR Humane Society SPCA is our Volunteer of the Month for April 2022, Kathy Kreiselman, who has quietly but passionately served from her heart filled with love for animals.

This Ohioan (Go Bucks!) grew up on a non-working farm, with two horses, and an uncle who lived “down the road” and owned a dairy farm. Since her marriage a bit over 37 years ago, Kathy had a Golden Retriever and five cats. In 2018, the decision was made to hold off on adding more feline members to the pack in order to travel more and not worry about any pets for a while. But, as it often happens, a visit to the local Cat Crazy Villagers meeting found Kathy wanting to foster a “no other cats” feline named Boots. Who else could be more qualified since they were likely the ONLY people in the club with no cats!? So, Boots was foster fail #1.

Last summer, Kathy was caring for one of our shelter’s cats, Ebay, a Manx, who was in a very large cage in Kitten Wonderland due to some litterbox issues. Kathy loved when Ebay would snuggle into her arms and found it more and more difficult to put Ebay back into her home. That’s when her decision to foster Ebay, work with her and make her adoption prospects much more viable due to in-home care. Foster Fail #2! Her “sister cat” Boots, is still not thrilled with a “roommate”, but deals with it in typical feline fashion.

Kathy is passionate about wanting all the cats and dogs to have homes, but until that time comes, she wants to shower them with love, socialize them to be expand their adoption prospects, and help others learn what an enriching experience it is to volunteer for YOUR Humane Society SPCA. When asked about her drive and passion to volunteer, she told us, “I love the setup YOUR Humane Society SPCA has, with their outdoor ‘catio’, and Kitten Wonderland. I love that we are ‘no kill’, and everyone is so dedicated.”

Kathy adds “I would tell anyone thinking about volunteering that there is so much you can offer these animals until they find their homes and there are many ways to use life skills. A volunteer can give time to hold and pet the animals, talk to them, and show them love and compassion. But if someone is unable to work directly with the animals, there is a need for so many other facets such as picking up donation of goods for the shelter. I get so excited every time I get an email that another adoption has occurred and tell my husband about my experience in caring for each one – especially the senior cats and dogs!“

Kathy, the entire team at YOUR Humane Society SPCA thanks you for your time, dedication, and love that you so freely give these animals as they begin their journey towards their new lives. If you would like to join our volunteer team and enjoy the personal satisfaction of knowing how much your efforts impact the 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 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 at our tabling events, gardening or basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents! We have reached 40 years in 2022 and it is largely in part because of caring volunteers all those years!

Spring will soon be upon us, and with it comes the promise that everything will begin anew. That is our biggest hope for every animal who crosses our doorstep at YOUR Humane Society SPCA. We couldn’t achieve our goal to find new homes for our adoptable animals without our wonderful volunteers, like JD and Bev Mabbitt, who have been selected as our Volunteers of the Month for March 2022!

Congratulations! We value and appreciate all those who give of their time to help care for our animals, and we recognize how important our volunteers’ efforts are in preparing them for their fur-ever families. “We are happy to volunteer,” Bev Mabbitt said. “We have the time now. We look forward to seeing those wagging tails.”

Bev and JD retired to Florida from Indiana. Both had pets over the years, but coincidentally enough, each had a special childhood memory of a Boxer in their respective families. JD loved playing with his grandfather’s Boxer, and Bev remembers her Scalawags fondly. When they arrived in Florida, Bev and JD had two Cocker Spaniels. Later, when they found themselves without Izzy and Zander Buttswiggle, their house felt empty, and they chose to go the rescue route to find a new member for their family. Enter Jesse “Good Boy” James, a 3-year-old Boxer mix. “He is a dream and matches our lifestyle perfectly,” Bev said. “He loves walks, naps and the occasional trek to the dog park, where he hasn’t yet met a stranger.”

“Rescue dogs need love and interaction,” Bev stated. “It’s so gratifying when they find their fur-ever home.” One of Bev’s most memorable experiences as a volunteer was with a dog named Chloe, who had lost her front leg. She was scared and kept her distance. Every week, Bev would visit Chloe and talk to her. Finally, Chloe accepted a leash, and they began to take walks. “She was a sweet girl, and with time she finally gained her confidence, and after that she soon found her fur-ever home,” Bev said. “I was so happy for her. This makes volunteering so worthwhile!”

“Two or three hours a week goes a long way, and you can work around your own schedule,” Bev added. “There are many ways to help. It just takes a little of your time.” JD also stated, “It’s scary to be a dog who’s never experienced a shelter environment. They need time outside with a friendly person, in the open air. It’s good for their well-being and happiness. The small amount of time you spend is an immense benefit to a dog who might otherwise not be out of his kennel more than a short while each day.”

JD and Bev contribute greatly by walking the dogs, handling them at adoption events, manning fundraising and info tables at our fundraisers, and also help clean at the shelter. For their dedication and efforts, we proudly honor JD and Bev Mabbitt as our Volunteers of the Month for March 2022!

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 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!

February is the month to recognize our sweethearts and one that comes to mind is YOUR Humane Society SPCA’s shelter volunteer Jeanne E. Rogers, who we celebrate as Volunteer of the Month for February 2022. Jeanne was born in the Bronx, New York, but spent most of her life in Connecticut, which she considers her home. She is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University and now lives in The Villages with her fifteen-year-old standard poodle, Phoebe, and her cat, Rocky. Yes, Jeanne is a failed foster mother and proud of it.

Growing up, there was always a furry pet at home. She has fond memories of a cat named Stinky, and dog named Babette and another named Lovey. When she established a home of her own, she had two Afghan Hounds that she showed extensively up and down the east coast, into New York City and Canada. It was an experience that was only eclipsed by her trip to Australia where she met some of the world’s most unusual animals. That trip to Australia led to the writing of two middle-grade novels and two early readers. All of the books contain anthropomorphized animals as the heroes and heroines.

After retirement, she wanted to give back and it was only natural to somehow incorporate her love of animals into that desire. A friend introduced her to the local Humane Society SPCA where she met other cat cuddling volunteers. Jeanne loves working with all the other volunteers and staff at our Lake Panasoffkee shelter. She has discovered that this is fulfilling work and knowing that she is trying to keep the cats at the Catty Shack happy and healthy makes her heart feel good. She helps clean the litter boxes, sweep, and wash the floors, and ensures that the water bowls are full and clean. She is convinced that the cats appreciate all that is done for them. Jeanne does what she can as life in retirement has become even busier than when she was working full time.

Her fondest memory at YOUR Humane Society SPCA was when Sierra Mist, an older and feral cat, was able to gradually adjust from a stressful life on the streets to becoming a happy cat with no more worries. Each day she seems to be more outgoing, and Jeanne is so happy when she seems engaged and playful.

All in all, her experience at the shelter has been very gratifying. Knowing that she, in a small way, is making a difference for her furry friends, makes it easy to return once a week to spend time with them. 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 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, gardening, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents!

With the start of the New Year (or “Mew Year” as we like to say at YOUR Humane Society SPCA), we are recognizing Mike and Terri Young, a husband and wife volunteer duo, as our Volunteers of the Month for January 2022. Our volunteers can’t be thanked enough for all they do in the way they nurture and contribute to saving our dogs and cats. Their efforts give our adoptable animals the best chance of finding their loving forever homes. We appreciate Mike and Terri for their help and spirit of teamwork as we accomplish our daily objectives.

Growing up, Mike had both dogs and cats as pets, and Terri grew up with dogs and hamsters. “Over the years we’ve been married, we’ve had several cats and dogs. At one point, we had four cats and two 65-pound dogs, one of whom was blind at the time of adoption,” Terri said.

Now, Mike and Terri have two cats. Phoebe is a 14-year old black cat whom they rescued from a feral colony in their backyard in Virginia, where they resided for 23 years before retiring to Florida. Once here, they adopted Milo, a 4-year old black and white cat from YOUR Humane Society SPCA in February 2021.

“We are both inspired by the simple need of the cats and kittens to be shown some love and kindness,” Terri explained. “We come in the afternoon once a week to simply cuddle with them and scoop litter.”

However there really is more to it than that. Having the opportunity to adopt Milo was a momentous occasion to both Mike and Terri, as Milo is a big part of their family now. But Terri reports there is so much enjoyment and gratification that comes along with volunteering. “We love to see the cats warm up to the staff and volunteers, even though at first they were so skittish, and it’s very heartwarming to comfort the senior cats who are often scared and confused,” Terri stated.

“You'll receive ten times more love in return than what you give to the animals,” Terri said. “I urge anyone who loves animals to consider getting involved with YOUR Humane Society SPCA.”

We are pleased to name Mike and Terri Young as our Volunteers of the Month for January 2022! Thank you so much for your compassion, willingness to help and your commitment to caring for the cats who need your support. They are comforted by your presence and YOUR Humane Society SPCA team members thank you for your dedicated service.

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 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, gardening, basic maintenance tasks on our campus, and more. Reach out and let us know YOUR talents!

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