Paws for a Moment by Bonny Corbeil

About Your ACC

A number of individuals have contacted our St. John ACC recently interested in knowing our status — whether we are still open and functioning; asking who is on the present Board of Directors; what is happening at our shelter; and overall interested in knowing “how things are going.” The next three columns will reflect on the last two years of the ACC and update the community on who is serving on the Board of Directors; what progresses we have made; and what plans we have for the future.

This is “our” Animal Care Center. Our new bumper sticker, created by “Chilly Billy” Bill says this clearly — “Help Us Care.” Our ACC serves our community and the animals in need on St. John. The organization and the community are in a partnership together. Without this partnership, we are unable to do the good work that we do. We absolutely depend on the community for both active volunteers and funding. You are very important to our ACC. We believe you should know who your Board is and the work that it is doing. It is our hope that you will recognize how important you are to us and our mission in serving the animals of St. John.

Sometimes the most difficulty we have within any organization is in addressing how we organize ourselves — as a group and as individuals — to do the most that we can for the needs that are there. Quite often in a new organization this is a process of trial and error, and this process takes time! As most of us learn eventually, both people and organizations go through specific stages of growth. Most organizations are birthed by a handful of caring citizens who see a great need and want to join with others in finding a way to address these needs. At the core of this caring is a deep passion that comes directly from the heart. It is the driving force behind the creation of any organization.

Since the early eighties, I have found myself involved, in some capacity, with numerous citizens who because of their love and dedication to the suffering animals of our island, gave their “all” in attempting to help starved, sick, and homeless animals! Unfortunately, the problems were much too big for a few committed individuals to tackle. The personal “burn-out” rate was high. It is emotionally draining to deeply love animals yet have to constantly interact with those that are hurt, sick or homeless.

Nevertheless, these dedicated animal lovers had sown the initial seeds of our present operating ACC. Back then, there was only a small shack to house the center. It was believed that when we had a real building-then everything would be easier — that problems would subside and the tasks of caring for animals would be minimal. Of course, we now know that the operation of any organization is not any easy task! How well we do as an organization is often determined by the relationships that exist between its members. We all know the challenges that go with being in any relationship. There are numerous factors that come into play when human beings come together in a group, including: individual personalities; their communication and problem-solving skills; the level of trust in working together; how well meetings are organized; what kind of leadership is demonstrated to set a tone to the organization; how well the skills and passions of each member is facilitated and used; and of course, the motivation factor — whether members truly feel that their involvement is making a difference.

Since organizations consist of volunteers it is imperative that individuals personally experience positive changes. Organiza-tions are “living organisms” that require community support — both financial and emotional. They need good, dedicated, multi-area skilled people “to serve” that community need. Without that, organizations cannot and will not thrive and grow.

It has been approximately two years since major changes have occurred at our St. John ACC. There had been a “critical time” for our organization prior to that. The previous board members, actually responsible in getting our new building up (no small feat!), simply turned to the community for help after meeting with the St. Thomas Humane Society for direction and support. In retrospect, this was a show of great strength. Our ACC was quite simply in its process of growth- moving to the next level of operation. Every person involved in that process should recognize that whatever their input and involvement, it was helpful and instrumental to our organization’s positive evolution and growth to date! Our organization is indebted to you for that.

Our St. John Community immediately responded to this “call for help” and an ACC nominating committee was formed to focus on building a new “infrastructure.”

Next Column: continued…Who our ACC Board members and what they bring to our Board.

E-mail [email protected] with any ACC questions or concerns.