As I look back on the past year, my first as CEO for the Greater Huntsville Humane Society, I am filled with mixed emotions. When I accepted the role as CEO in 2019, I never could have prepared myself for the unprecedented year ahead. We experienced joyful highs as we saved a historical number of pets, completed more transport missions than ever before, expanded our reach to include 6 north Alabama counties, and received an incredibly generous amount of money from the late Mr. Thomas Reickhoff–allowing us to plan for many exciting changes and expansions. One of these expansions included opening our NEW mission-driven store: Three Tails Resale.
Along with the highs came some devastating lows. We lost two of our beloved volunteers, Ms. Glenna and Ms. Gayle, who both dedicated so much time and energy to our organization. We had to turn our standard operating procedures upside down in response to the global health crisis brought on by COVID19. We reimagined so many of our processes to ensure the health and safety of our staff, volunteers, animals, and community. We were tasked with the challenge of continuing to further our mission and continuing to save lives no matter what. All of this while we could not hold events, could not be open to the public, and with multiple necessary fundraisers and events canceled. During this time, we also saw a dramatic increase in owner surrender requests. We saw more families than ever enrolling in our community assistance programs like King’s Community Kitchen and the Pet Wellness Clinics (with Rocket City Mobile Vet). Unfortunately, saw all of this while also seeing a decrease in donations.
Through the highs and the lows, GHHS never quit. Our dedicated staff, volunteers, fosters, adopters, and Board of Directors adjusted to the new normal. We were never satisfied by all the reasons we could not do something; rather, we found ways we could. Instead of closing our King’s Community Kitchen pet food bank, we adapted it into a drive-through so that pet owners affected by the pandemic didn’t have to make the heartbreaking choice between feeding their pets and feeding their children. Instead of limiting the number of animals we took in, we took in more animals than ever before! We completed virtual adoptions, put out a plea for foster homes which allowed us to clear the shelter TWICE, and transported animals to Erie, Pennsylvania; Hagerstown, Maryland; Ft. Dodge, Iowa; Phillipsburg, New Jersey; and Washington, Pennsylvania.
Instead of stopping or slowing, we persevered. 2020 will go down in history as a year that was challenging, hard, and, yes, “unprecedented” but it will also remain the year that we stuck together, we grew, and we adapted. We’ll take the lessons we learned this year and put them to use for years to come. We saved over 1,000 lives, we distributed over 20,000 pounds of pet food to those in need, and we learned more about ourselves and our community than ever before!
As we say goodbye to 2020, and look forward to 2021, it is my hope that the year is full of joyous events–whether virtual or in-person. It is my hope that we will continue to serve our community, complete families through the addition of pets, advocate for a more humane environment for animals, and SAVE MORE LIVES. We can’t do any of that without you and your support…so, this holiday season, I am humbly asking that you consider supporting our mission by making a donation.