The driving forces behind a new animal shelter had hoped to hit the ground running when it came time to begin fundraising. But the ground has rushed up to meet them.
Art Stirling, who with Marjorie Crew, co-chairs the quest to build a new $2-million animal shelter for Chatham-Kent, said they have already seen fundraising dollars pour in … even though they haven’t begun the fundraising portion of their campaign yet.
“We’ve probably received about $60,000 so far. It’s so early. But we’ve already had two or three pleasant surprises,” he said. “We’ve had great support so far.”
That has included a couple of large donations and a fundraiser. Pet and Wildlife Rescue (PAWR) recently held an online auction, raising $3,000.
And more are lined up to help.
“Another group is talking about doing a golf tournament for us. There’s already interest by other groups and businesses to support us. That’s wonderful,” he said. “And we’ll provide whatever support we can to their fundraisers.”
All this is months before Stirling, Crew and the committee get rolling on fundraising of their own.
Stirling said they have posters and brochures produced and are now making contact with individuals and organizations.
“The committee is busy now reaching out to a number of influencer groups. These folks might not only be supportive themselves, but they also interact with pet lovers all the time,” he said.
Stirling said the committee wanted to take its time getting going, to ensure people understood what it hopes to accomplish in building a new shelter to replace the cramped OSPCA shelter on Park Avenue East. The new shelter will be built on the same street.
“We wanted to get materials out in the key areas so people can see what we’re doing. In terms of a large-scale public campaign, we’re probably a few months away from that,” he said. “We want to make sure people understand the difference between the current OSPCA and what we are looking to do.”
That hasn’t prevented groups from coming forward to offer assistance, or from the committee meeting with key individuals and groups. Those include veterinarians, pet food and pet supply stores, pet rescue groups, and other organizations.
“The funeral directors are quite interested,” Stirling said. “We’ve received donations in memory of people.”
Stirling said the early support is a sign of how badly a new shelter is needed in the municipality.
“In my mind, from being on council the last eight years and being in the fundraising field (he was the executive director of the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent), there is a pent-up demand in the community to support a new animal shelter,” he said. “People see the need and see the state of the current facility. It’s just something the community, in my personal opinion, wants to rally behind.”
Stirling said the OSPCA isn’t to blame for the lack of a new shelter in the municipality. It’s a combination of things that have led to such a dire need.
“We never had a dedicated focus – between the OSPCA and Chatham-Kent – for someone to step forward and get the job done. That’s what Marjorie and I are trying to fill.”
Despite the support and interest already, Stirling doesn’t want to alter the committee’s timelines.
“You want to get rolling, but you want to do things very deliberately. It positions you for success,” he said. “I don’t want to do it fast. I want to do it right. This is our chance to make it happen.”