Good Shepherd cancels Diamonds & Denim Gala

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

By Samantha Jones

Good Shepherd Humane Society won’t be holding the Diamonds & Denim Gala this year.

At the board’s regular meeting Wednesday, April 22, board member Hallie Roberts said the event has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roberts said the venue, band and sponsors have all been contacted. If you bought a ticket or a table for the event, Roberts said, a refund is available.

“We are very appreciative to anybody that would consider it a donation. We have got quite a few people that have said they did want it as a donation,” Roberts said. “It’s very heartwarming to find that out, but it was hard to cancel it. We put a lot of work into it.”

Roberts said Good Shepherd knows how difficult COVID-19 has been for local businesses, saying she wasn’t sure if businesses that contributed gift certificates for the gala would be comfortable taking them at the moment. The event has been rescheduled to March 2021, Roberts said, but that date is subject to change depending on what happens between now and then.

Also at the meeting, president Jay Fusaro said the board needed to consider changing the date of its annual meeting. Though the meeting is required in the bylaws to be held in May, Fusaro said, COVID-19 has made that nearly impossible.

“Obviously, these are extenuating circumstances,” Fusaro said.

The board voted unanimously to move the meeting to June, then voted to approve a proposed amendment to the bylaws that would allow a one-year renewal for board members if two-thirds of the membership votes to approve it. The bylaws currently state that board members will be rotated out after five years.

In other business, the board heard from animal operations manager Cole Wakefield on how the shelter has been doing over the past month. Wakefield said adoptions are up, with 42 animals adopted out in March and two animals returned to their owner. The shelter has 10 animals on-site and five in foster care, Wakefield said, after halting intakes in response to the spread of COVID-19. Wakefield said the shelter resumed intakes on April 20 and will slowly transition back to normal operations.

“We’re trying to transition back to normal operations, just in a phased way,” Wakefield said. “Our staff is back to normal schedules.”

He said some staff members have completed the Fear Free Shelter Program, which aims to reduce stress in shelter animals. His ultimate goal, Wakefield said, is for all staff members to be certified in the program.

Wakefield updated the board on maintenance at the shelter, saying the kennels have been repainted and the filing system at the office has been revamped for better efficiency. One of the dog techs is moving away, Wakefield said, so a part-time cat tech has stepped up to take the position. That means the shelter is looking to hire a new part-time cat tech, Wakefield said.

Fusaro asked why adoption numbers have increased so much, and Wakefield said it’s because of several factors. Many people have more time at home than normal because of COVID-19, Wakefield said, so they have time to get pets acclimated to a new environment. Additionally, Wakefield said, several large shelters in Northwest Arkansas closed because of COVID-19.

“Some people came here because of our reputation of having a good shelter,” Wakefield said, “and some came because everywhere else was shut down.”

Thrift store manager Janet Chupp presented the thrift store report, saying she had no income to report but has completed some important maintenance projects at both stores. The carpet at the Eureka Springs store has been removed, Chupp said, and she is focused on repainting the floor and walls there with the same paint she’s using to repaint the Berryville store.

“It’s exciting to see all the changes,” Chupp said.

Fusaro thanked Chupp and Wakefield for working together to get through COVID-19. Chupp has spent some days working at the shelter to give Wakefield time off, Fusaro said, and Wakefield has had shelter staff help with the maintenance at the stores.

“It’s just really terrific teamwork,” Fusaro said.

Treasurer Mark Minton presented the finance report, saying Good Shepherd is reflecting a profit in March after receiving a $39,000 miscellaneous donation. Fusaro said the donation came from a person’s estate.

“We’re very thankful for that,” Fusaro said. “Obviously, it couldn’t be better given our position right now.”

Fusaro said Minton spearheaded an application for the Payroll Protection Program, allowing Good Shepherd to receive money from the program on its first run.

“We were able to participate in that first program because Mark got the application completed quickly,” Fusaro said, “and Cornerstone Bank was able to process our application quickly and efficiently.”

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 27.

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