SPCA In Focus: Nonprofit director discusses need for volunteers

By Roger DuPuis - [email protected]
Cats rest in the group cat room at the SPCA of Luzerne County. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Amber Reese, a veterinarian technician, plays with Dakota, a dog who is up for adoption at the SPCA of Luzerne County. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
SPCA of Luzerne County Executive Director Todd Hevner is seen with some of the colorful animal portraits that fill the agency’s headquarters on East Main Street in Plains Township. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second and concluding part of our interview with SPCA of Luzerne County Executive Director Todd Hevner

PLAINS TWP. — In Sunday’s edition we heard from Todd Hevner about the primary roles played by the SPCA of Luzerne County, including rescuing animals — some of which are seized by humane officers — as well as educating the public on pet ownership and matching animals with adopters.

But we also spoke about the range of others services provided by the agency, which include end-of life care requested by owners for their pets: euthanasia services, cremation and burial in the SPCA’s own pet cemetery.

It takes many hands to keep the SPCA running, as we discussed.

Q: Even with 33 employees, a nonprofit organization like this surely cannot function without volunteers. How many do you have?

A: We have 600 volunteers on the books, we have probably under 100 that are active volunteers, and we have a small core of 40 to 50 that are heavily active. We have some volunteers who are retired and are here 40 hours a week.

Q: What sort of tasks do they perform?

A: They do everything from socializing animals to assisting our organization with education and adoption events out in our community, and work side by side with our paid staff on the cleaning, health and maintenance of our animals.

We have a goal of walking every dog every day. It is one we strive for but not one we hit every day. The need for volunteers is forever growing, and I hope this article encourages people to ask: “How can I help out?”

Q: Do you think some people find it too emotional?

A: I know a lot of people are like, “I just can’t go in there. I’ll want to take them all home.” Well, we have other things — administrative tasks, for example.

Budget, finances

(Editor: Information about the SPCA’s finances, together with rankings of its financial performance, transparency and accountability, can be found online at www.charitynavigator.org. Among other metrics, it indicated that 88.1 percent of revenue for FY 2016, the most recent year available, came from contributions, gifts and grants; that nearly 81 percent of expenses go toward program costs and just over 12 percent to administrative costs. The agency spent $84,494 on fundraising, or 6.9 percent of its budget, and fundraising events brought in $101,908, or 10.7 percent of revenues. The agency also reported $9,617,228 in net revenues.)

Q: How large is your budget and where does your funding come from?

A: We have a $1.2 million budget.Our funding largely comes from Good Samaritans. We have a small portion through grants and other foundations we apply to. And as of April of this year we have begun to contract with our local municipalities to service the stray animals in their communities.

Q: You also engage in several annual fundraising events, correct?

A: We have the PetExpo at the Kingston Armory. There is an annual golf event at Sand Springs Country Club in Mountain Top. We have the Dog Days of Summer in August in partnership with Cork Bar & Restaurant. We have purse bingo in September, a walk the first week in October and then our marquee event, the Bone Appetit dinner on the first Sunday in November at The Woodlands.

There are also many third-party events. Our community is very good to us and we could not be more grateful.

Background

Q: OK, tell me a little about yourself. Where did you come from, and how did you become the head of an animal nonprofit?

A: I worked at the SPCA in York County. I was their operations manager for four-and-a-half years. My previous life was in nonprofit housing. I ran a redevelopment organization that took dilapidated homes and rehabbed them for sale to low- and moderate-income individuals. Through a merger I had been laid off, and was looking for that place that spoke to me. I’ve always been an animal lover. Pit bulls have been near and dear to my heart. It was just a natural step for me when this opportunity in York opened up. From that it grew into the opportunity up here.

Q: You’re a York County native. What has it been like living up here?

A: It’s a beautiful section of our state. It’s not flat [laughs]. I absolutely love it. My wife and I like to be in the outdoors, and Northeastern Pa. has just a plethora of opportunities to get out into nature.

Q: How old are you? And how long have you worked in nonprofits?

A: I’m 41, and my whole career. I started in adjudicated youth, moved over to nonprofit housing and then moved into the animal welfare community.

Q: Why?

A: I have a need in me to help. When I found my way into the animal welfare field, I was able to marry a passion with my profession. We go home every day with peace in our hearts because we know we have helped that animal, or helped that family find a new family member.

Cats rest in the group cat room at the SPCA of Luzerne County.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL072218spca5.jpgCats rest in the group cat room at the SPCA of Luzerne County. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Amber Reese, a veterinarian technician, plays with Dakota, a dog who is up for adoption at the SPCA of Luzerne County.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL072218spca8.jpgAmber Reese, a veterinarian technician, plays with Dakota, a dog who is up for adoption at the SPCA of Luzerne County. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

SPCA of Luzerne County Executive Director Todd Hevner is seen with some of the colorful animal portraits that fill the agency’s headquarters on East Main Street in Plains Township.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_TTL072218spca1.jpgSPCA of Luzerne County Executive Director Todd Hevner is seen with some of the colorful animal portraits that fill the agency’s headquarters on East Main Street in Plains Township. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Nonprofit directordiscusses needfor volunteers

By Roger DuPuis

[email protected]

SPCA IN FOCUS

A two-part conversation with SPCA of Luzerne County Executive Director Todd Hevner about what the organization does and the importance of spaying and neutering animals.

Sunday: Hevner spoke about overpopulation, adoption and more.

Monday: The challenges and rewards of leading a $1.2 million nonprofit, including the need for volunteers.