Holiday Island Community Church challenges local churches to help Good Shepherd
Holiday Island Community Church's new pastor, Jeff Timm, and his wife, Karen, have six rescue dogs. It makes sense, then, that the Timms' first big charitable act benefits Good Shepherd Humane Society.
Over the past month, the church has collected food and supplies for the animal shelter. Jeff Timm said he and his wife held a similar event at their former church in Florida and felt pulled to continue doing so in Carroll County. What motivated them, Jeff Timm said, is hearing from the people who work at Good Shepherd shortly after moving to town.
"They came out and did a program for us, for the women's group," Jeff Timm said.
Jeff Timm explained that he led three pet blessings in October, inspired by St. Francis of the Assisi, the patron saint of pets. The drive was combined with the pet blessings, he said, and the church has been reaching out to other local churches to do something similar.
"We've gone to a number of churches and asked them if they'll take a different month. So far, we have one other church lined up," Jeff Timm said. "If we can get 12 churches involved, it could happen all year. We did it for a whole month."
Animal care manager Sandra Mittler remembered when the woman who does outreach for the church called her.
"It was first presented as a food drive, and it turned into food, supplies and toys," Mittler said. "It's really blossomed. We hope it continues with other churches. It's just a feel-good thing to do ... a very nice thing to do."
GSHS president Jay Fusaro said the shelter serves all of Carroll County, taking 43 percent of its animals from Berryville, 23 percent from Eureka Springs, 19 percent from Green Forest and 15 percent from other areas in the county.
"We're very grateful. We don't receive any state, local or federal funding, so this really is terrific for us," Fusaro said. "A little less than half our budget is self-funded. Any help we get is tremendous."
Mittler explained that the biggest cost for the shelter is the utilities and food costs that keep everything going.
"There's certain bills that come in every month, so any extra help we can get ... we appreciate it all," she said.
Jeff Timm said he and his wife were happy to hold the food drive. The next time they do it, he said, he hopes to extend it to everyone in the community.
"I think next time we might do a broader base where people can drop off dog food," Jeff Timm said. "That would be great ... the more people we could get involved."
Karen Timm said she's glad Good Shepherd doesn't euthanize animals.
"The fact that it's a no-kill ... they're taking in lots of dogs and need lots of help," Karen Timm said.
Mittler agreed with this.
"We are the no-kill shelter of Carroll County. It takes a lot to get us going ... more than people realize. That's why this is so important," she said. "We take all breeds, all ages. When it comes to the animals, no one's too old. No one's the wrong breed. We take everyone."
Jeff Timm pointed out that between 55 and 65 percent of Americans have or have had a pet in their lives.
"If you want to touch a heart, that's the easiest thing around is to help animals," Jeff Timm said. "If you don't love animals, there's something wrong with you."
Fusaro encouraged anyone interested in knowing more about the shelter to come visit sometime. In the past year, he said, the shelter has made several improvements.
"It's a really good, safe, clean place for the animals. We have a really good staff," Fusaro said. "We have dog walkers. We have people who are taking excellent care of the animals."
One of the shelter's biggest improvements, Mittler said, is installing a fence around the shelter to make it safer for all the animals. Moving forward, she said, the shelter is hoping to purchase and install new kennels.
"That's going to take an awful lot of money. It's three phases. We're going to be talking about that in the future," she said.
So far this year, Fusaro said, the shelter has saved 400 animals from being euthanized. Karen Timm said she hasn't visited the shelter yet but plans on it.
"He will not let me go out to the shelter," she joked to her husband.
"The number of dogs would increase with every visit," Jeff Timm laughed.
Fusaro thanked the couple for holding the food drive and said he's glad to see the community rally around the shelter.
"We're very grateful, and we'd like to continue the relationship," Fusaro said.