As it goes with many Lake Oconee residents, Chris and Darrell Kaniowski began as part-time members of our community in 2013. Chris was a stay-at-home mom to their daughter, Jennifer, and Darrell was the head of gas turbine manufacturing for Siemens in Charlotte, North Carolina. During Darrell’s 36-year tenure with Siemens, the Kaniowski’s moved many, many times…even living in Saudi Arabia twice! Chris became a permanent resident of Lake Oconee in 2016, with Darrell continuing full time employment until just several weeks ago. They look forward to traveling a lot over the next few years, even venturing to Australia in 2020!
ORHS is now, however, the lucky recipient of their volunteer time! Both Chris and Darrell want to give back to the community and feel that ORHS is the perfect place to start. When they came by to visit the shelter and volunteer, both said they didn’t care what they did…they just want to help where they were needed most! The Kaniowski’s now help primarily with our Cat Program but can be seen helping when the dogs need it too. Darrell enjoys helping those who can’t help themselves and has become a “regular” since his recent retirement. Chris, however, has been with of our Team for a while now and continues to be an integral part of enriching the lives of so many homeless animals.
A huge thank you, Chris and Darrell, for your willingness to help and determination to make a difference!
by Amy Manville, ORHS Dog Director
Penny Davis arrived in the Lake area a little over a year ago. She is a retired Nurse and Healthcare Executive from Chicago. Her passion for animals led her straight to ORHS, when a friend told her about the organization. She's been volunteering on the Puppy Care Team and helping with Adoption events for 9 months. She has two Rescue pups of her own, “Stella”, a 15-year-old Lab/terrier mix, and “Rizzo”, a 2 year old complete mix. She spends her days golfing, reading, playing Bunco, enjoying her grandbabies, and helping out at ORHS. We love her tenacity, Chicagoan accent, and true love for the rescue dogs and puppies.
Debbie Spann means so much to ORHS. She came into our world almost a decade ago and immediately made an impact. We got to see a side of Debbie that not everyone knew or could appreciate. She began volunteering at adoptions and soon became chairman. From there her soft heart and generosity seemed endless. She became our landlord in 2012, offering much needed space for our adoption center and allowed us to really make ourselves at home. We would see her most days when she would stop by volunteering for puppy duty or for her puppy and kitten fix. When she met a couple of special needs puppies, she knew they needed her so she adopted them. At last count she had adopted 3 dogs and 2 cats.
When we began to hold our Treasure Sale events, Debbie was there in a completely different role, first providing an amazing space for the sale and then with her pickup truck and trailer and some much needed helpers to do furniture pickups that helped us bring in extra dollars in sales. She would often find one of us to share her thoughts and ideas for the future, many of which we’ve implemented. Once she knew what we needed, she simply made it happen.
Recently Debbie moved to Savannah to be near some friends and we feel her absence every day. She promised to visit often and before she left she told us “I’m only three hours away. Just call and I’ll be there.” And we have no doubt she will always be there for us. That’s the Debbie we know and love. We miss you Debbie!
by Jackie Stolarski
It was about seven years ago that two very special people came into the ORHS world. Porge and JJ Casey had just moved to the lake and couldn’t wait to get involved. Porge had helped establish a rescue group in Baton Rouge and was a wealth of information and ideas, and JJ quickly stepped up to be our Treasurer. Their involvement only continued to grow, and in no time they were board members, running our community food program, creating our newsletter, helping with adoptions and volunteering for animal care. Any time we needed help they were there for us, and they have truly made an impact to our organization.
Porge and JJ are about to make a move to the Atlanta area and it will surely be impossible to replace them. Although we will miss seeing their smiling faces every week, they have promised not to be strangers. We will look forward to their visits and hope to see them often. We cannot thank them enough for their generosity and willingness to do whatever it takes for the animals. We wish them all the best!
Sue is a North Carolina transplant who has lived in GA since the early 70’s and in the lake area since 1988. She retired as a State Farm Agent in Conyers and happily gave up her long daily commute in exchange for volunteering, playing bridge and hand quilting.
In Sue’s own words, “It’s hard to describe why I have become so passionate about our mission at ORHS. I have been deeply committed to volunteerism throughout my working years, serving as Heart Assn President, Red Cross blood committee for metro Atlanta, and other organizations as well. I do know that I am enormously impressed by the depth of commitment these volunteers have, even those of us who can only stand in awe of some of them. I’m just humbled and honored to work with them. I have never participated in an organization that willingly gives its volunteers important work to do, as opposed to busy work and then only occasionally. Maybe that’s what fires this enthusiasm and passion. Each adoption gives me such a rush, and each sad story makes me want to take that little animal home …… as there are many of those at ORHS.”
My first real contact with the shelter was when I adopted a precious older cat at ORHS. It’s really hard not to take another one home every week! My cat owns me and seeing her emotional wounds heal reminds me daily that we do important, worthwhile work for these sweet and helpless little animals. Wish we could do more!
Thank you Sue for ALL that you do for to ORHS !
Katherine Calhoun, ORHS volunteer extraordinaire, takes two of ORHS’ black kittens to the Blessing of the Animals at Redeemer Episcopal Church. Father Bill is the priest. It doesn’t get much better than this for these dear kitties. No doubt, the blessing will benefit them in their 9 lives ahead ! Thank you, Katherine, for all the love and tender care you share with our ORHS cats and kittens.
I first became a foster mom for the Oconee Regional Humane Society approximately 11 years ago. I had moved here but my husband needed to finish up work so I needed something to occupy my evenings. Someone mentioned being a foster mom for ORHS and in two days I had a puppy to take care of (that was back in the days when we had no shelter so it was fostering or not rescuing). What a blessing for me. Over the next four years I had many puppies and dogs--one puppy grabbed my heart and I adopted her. My daughter, who lost her dog because of old age, adopted a puppy I was fostering. I even made a puppy tree with a picture of each dog and to this day, I can tell you a story of each on. They became part of my family and they tug on my heart every time I think of them. So why do I do it?
The other day I met a family who drove an hour to meet one of the puppies I had. They wanted to adopt him. This was a puppy that I had already fallen in love with. As I drove over to ORHS to meet the family, I was a bit sad thinking that I would lose this beautiful, loving dog. After meeting the mom and the four children, I knew that puppy will be loved forever and ever and I felt like a mom who knew it was time their child was growing up and needed to be with his forever home. Perhaps I played a small part in socializing that puppy so his new family would see his best qualities. People will say to me, 'How can you give them up after having them and loving them?' Sure it's hard, I'm only human, and sometimes shed a tear or two. But knowing it is a happy ending makes me feel like I did something to make a difference--and there is always another one needing love.
As the years passed, my love for the animals has stayed the same. I don't foster as much now. I have joined the Board of the Humane Society and when there is an urgent need for fosters, I am glad to volunteer. Being a foster doesn't mean you have to spend every minute with the pet. If a puppy is at your home in a pen all day long--it's okay because it is better than being on the streets. ORHS gives you everything you need--food, crates, pens, etc. All you do is provide love. You won't always have a foster--and if you are busy or traveling--just tell ORHS you aren't available.
Please consider being a foster--ORHS does such great things with limited space--they really need you!!!