By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – It hasn’t been easy, but in the year since the Susquehanna SPCA launched its “Shelter Us” capital campaign to build a new animal shelter, more than $3.2 million has been donated towards the project.
“We’ve had a lot of support, and we’re so grateful,” said Stacie Haynes, executive director. “But it’s always challenging. We’re trying to raise money for our capital campaign, but also we need to raise funds for our annual operations, keeping the lights and heat on and the animals fed.”
Although the SQSPCA’s original goal was $2 million, additions to the planned project have pushed the fundraising goal to $5 million.
“We changed the location of the shelter and decided to build a new thrift store,” she said. “And we’re adding a community room.”
The community room was inspired by both necessity and generosity. “We’ve had kids who, for their birthdays, instead of presents, ask people to donate to the shelter,” she said. “And they want to have their parties here or just sit and visit with the animals, and we don’t have a space.”
Similarly, staff meetings and trainings are held in the lobby of the cramped former motorcycle shop.
“We want people to be able to come here and for us to be able to show our appreciation,” she said.
Last December, the Staffworks founder Anita Vitullo offered a $10,000 matching grant, which spurred $75,000 in donations. So in January, she gave an additional $10,000 “high performers” grant to the shelter.
Vitull’s generosity continued. In April, she announced the “Shelter Us” campaign, which would match contributions up to $250,000, adding $500,000 to the coffers. Then in November, it was announced that the shelter had raised $129,000 to match the $100,000 garnering $229,000.
And now, having exceeded the $100,000 goal in this year’s “Save A Life” campaign, which ended Tuesday, Dec. 31, Haynes was waiting to hear if the shelter will get an additional prize $10,000 from Vitullo.
“These sorts of financial contributions make a huge difference,” Haynes said.
In addition to the “Save a Life” campaign, the shelter partnered with the Wharton Valley Dance Theatre in West Burlington on the “Pets Dance Too” calendar, which features dancers with shelter pets. “They did all the work, we just provided the cats and dogs!” said Haynes.
Proceeds from the $18 calendar benefit the shelter, and it is available online at www.micaelinavelardi.com/pets-dance-too/
Haynes anticipates a March groundbreaking for the new shelter, and is in conversations with several people and organizations about possible campaigns. But she also encourages anyone who wants to donate to feel free to come by the shelter and drop off a donation in person.
“We love it when people come and bring donations directly to us,” she said. “That way we can show them the behind-the-scenes of the shelter so that when we build the new one, they’ll be able to see the difference their contribution made.”
“It’s a lot of work,” said Haynes. “But a lot of people have helped get us here.”