Photo caption: Grant Committee members (left to right) Pat deRosset, Megan Shebik, Barb Szczepaniak (Foundation vice president for programs), Laurie McMahon, and Ruth Carlson surprised Tom Van Winkle (center) with a $25,000 grant to support Hinsdale Humane Society’s communal animal welfare database.
In June 2018, the Foundation facilitated a convening of DuPage area animal welfare agency leaders. The most critical needs identified within the county were:
- A central resource to coordinate intake, resources, and communication among multiple organizations
- Transportation and vehicles
- Veterinary services, including spay and neuter
- Revenue for capital projects to expand facilities
It was around this same time that, through a generous estate gift, long-time Glen Ellyn resident Ron Bork established a fund at the Foundation wholly-focused on animal welfare projects. The nearly $1 million gift is being distributed over five years with 50% of annual grants supporting Willowbrook Wildlife Center and 50% benefiting other local agencies.
The first grant cycle focused on transportation-related projects, awarding a total of $94,750 to support the purchase of vehicles and maintenance expenses for the following agencies:
• Hinsdale Humane Society: $40,000
• Naperville Area Humane Society: $10,000
• Second City Canine Rescue: $14,750
• St. Sophia’s Forgotten Felines: $30,000
“Relinquished cats and dogs will now have a better chance of being adopted into a loving family,” said Barb Szczepaniak, Foundation vice president for programs. “Agencies will be able to transport animals to local adoption events and can rescue animals from other parts of Illinois, where an adoption is less likely.
During the application period, the Grant Committee’s eyes were also opened to a unique, county-wide opportunity. Hinsdale Humane Society (HHS) was in the process of establishing a communal database that would connect multiple animal welfare agencies. The timeliness of the project and the opportunity to address another critical need identified in 2018 were too good to pass up—the Foundation awarded an additional $25,000 to enable HHS to launch this central resource.
“By funding the technology required for shelters to collaborate on a real-time basis, we’ll be able to ensure our animals are in the right place to meet their new family,” said Tom Van Winkle, executive director of HHS. “This will be an industry changing platform, and the Foundation made it a reality.”