Every now and again I send out an update to our active volunteers to give them the skinny on what’s going on at Humane Pennsylvania and our partner organizations. I just sent out the last of the recent update and figured I’d go ahead and put it up here, as well. Since these are letters I type, print, sign, stuff and send myself, without the usual adult grammatical supervision I normally receive, the volunteers get to play the usual game of “Finds the Typos!” with me. Thanks to all of them (and you) who make our work possible!
Dear [Volunteer Name],
Thank you so much for your volunteer service in support of Humane Pennsylvania (and Humane Society of Berks County and Humane League of Lancaster County)! It may sound cliché to say, “We couldn’t do it without you,” but it’s a fact. The staff, board of directors and I can’t ever thank you enough for the time you devote to our animals and mission.
I want to give you a quick update about some things going on at Humane PA. The biggest news is that our Reading Humane Veterinary Hospital just received American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation. Only 12% of the 35,000 or so vet practices in the US have met this standard that evaluates on 900 hospital standards. That’s impressive enough but of all those only twenty-three non-profit veterinary hospitals in the entire United States are accredited. There are only three in Pennsylvania- our Reading and Lancaster hospitals, which were first and third in the state, and one in Bucks County (which we helped get accredited, so we can take a little credit for that one, too). Accreditation means we know we provide the best care at the highest standards to our sheltered animals, adopted animals, animals living in at risk situations, and the general public.
Building on this, we were fortunate enough to receive a $75,000 grant from the Giorgi Family Foundation specifically to expand access to our veterinary services in Berks County. The grant will allow us to greatly expand our sliding scale discounts for hundred more clients this year, provide hundreds of free sterilizations to the public, hold multiple free vaccination clinics in economically challenged neighborhoods in Reading, and extend more services to pets of clients enrolled in our PetNet emergency foster program. This will have a huge positive impact and is only possible because of our hospital capabilities and we are the only organization in the region offering services at this scale. Plus, we are actively working to find grant support in Lancaster County so we can do the same there.
I’d be totally remiss if I did not mentioned- in case you didn’t know- that our two great hospitals in Lancaster and in Reading are open to the public, including you and your pets. Give us a try.
Another exciting plan on the near horizon is the renovation of the dog exercise and meet and greet areas outside the Reading Hospital. Last year we had some amazing volunteer support to get the mess of trees and vines cleared out. Now we are getting pricing and drawings together to beautify, fix some minor safety issues, put some sun and rain shelters in, and make it so the spaces can be flexible to allow for small and large runs to be configured. It won’t be cheap, but it will be awesome. It will also be the feature project for our Fund A Need bidding at our Art for Arf’s Sake Auction this May! We expect that we will be able to raise enough at the auction to get started soon afterward.
In addition to this good news, we have had a couple annoyances. Our computer server in Lancaster died and needed replacement, which is an unwelcome unexpected expense. We also continued our streak of liability insurance increases again this year, with new companies and goofy new rules and mandates. One good(?) thing about new insurance companies is they make you look at every policy and form you have and update everything- such fun! One update that will be coming your way will be updated volunteer and staff code of conduct forms which everyone will have to sign on an annual basis and have on file. Apparently we aren’t allowed to assume you know you shouldn’t burn down the shelter and shoot everyone as they run from the building [Postscript Note: I had a much more colorful phrase here but someone who read it literally said, “Yikes!” and I changed it}. Paperwork is the best!
But the biggest issue on the horizon is the need to renovate the Reading shelter. We have delayed it twice, once for the merger of HSBC and HLLC and then for the Reading hospital construction. We can’t put it off any longer. If you’ve seen the old kennels and catteries, you know why. We are doing the behind the scenes work to raise the funds now but we are looking at a big pot of money. So, if you know anyone with an extra three quarters of a million bucks lying around, please let me know. We expect that we are looking at nine to twelve months just in planning, assuming everything goes well, but I wanted to make sure that our volunteers knew what was going on with that need.
Those are the highlights. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions or idea about this or anything else. My cell is 610-763-4271 and you are always welcome to check in at my office at the Reading Veterinary Hospital. I’m happy to speak with you if I am free (or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Once again, thank you for dedicating your time to helping us help animals and people in Berks and Lancaster Counties, and around Pennsylvania and the United States!
Your Partner in Animal Welfare,
Karel Minor, President/CEO