2021 has been interesting, to say the least! The Kentucky Humane Society Volunteer Program is still closed to new volunteers, but trained volunteers were asked to return in the summer, and our staff couldn’t have been more excited to welcome them back with open arms.
This year, KHS decided to recognize not just one Volunteer of the Year, but to highlight an outstanding volunteer from each KHS facility and department who go above and beyond their assigned duties. These volunteers embody the KHS Core Values and didn’t miss a beat returning to duties after nearly a year away.
Meet Our 2021 Winners
- Five Hanshaw, Foster Volunteer of the Year
- Dennis Lawrence, East Campus Volunteer of the Year
- Jennifer Schoenegge, Photography Volunteer of the Year
- Becky Edwards, S.N.I.P. Clinic Volunteer of the Year
- Tracy Smith, Main Campus Volunteer of the Year
- Dawn Poenie, Outreach Volunteer of the Year
Foster Volunteer of the Year: Five Hanshaw
Five Hanshaw has been a foster for KHS for over two years. She was nominated for Foster Volunteer of the Year by Kelly L. of the Foster Team who had some wonderful things to say about Five: “Five is always incredibly supportive of the foster program. She goes out of her way to make room for fosters when we are in need, takes great care of animals in need of medical care, and she even went to the Retreat to help out with all of the hurricane animals we took in.”
When we took in animals from shelters in the areas affected by Hurricane Ida earlier this year, Five didn’t hesitate coming out to the KHS Pet Retreat in Jeffersontown to help bathe dogs. Five also recently donated 350 blankets to KHS for our shelter animals. What an act of generosity from an unbelievably kind heart!
Five says she loves volunteering with animal shelters, but that KHS really goes above and beyond when it comes to outreach and communication. She says, “I’ve learned a LOT fostering for the shelter, and I get to cuddle adorable kittens on top of it! If only no kittens ever got sick, I’d be on cloud nine!” Her advice for new volunteers? “Dive in and ask when you have questions. There’s no such thing as being too sure about a procedure or medicine routine or issue you spot.”
When asked about her favorite memory of fostering for KHS, Five responded with what a wonderful time she had fostering a mother cat named Queen Brielle: “As a foster, I get the unique and amazing privilege of helping with some of the most vulnerable shelter animals – young kittens and mama cats in particular. They’re all unique and special in their own ways, but there is definitely one group that stands out. Queen Brielle came to me as a reactive mama who wasn’t at all sure about these small floofs that needed her. We bonded; she took good care of her babies despite not being quite happy about their presence. Once her babies were big enough, they all got spayed and put up for adoption in the shelter. Queen B didn’t like the shelter, though – Her Highness demanded more! So she came back to me as an Adoption Ambassador. She was featured in one of KHS’s amazing video posts and pretty quickly found a home. She was one of my longest-term fosters.”
Congratulations to Five Hanshaw for being nominated by the Foster Team as Foster Volunteer of the Year!
East Campus Volunteer of the Year: Dennis Lawrence
If you mention the name “Dennis” to the staff at our East Campus Adoption Center, you will see warm smiles and hear nothing but gratitude and wonder at how great Dennis Lawrence is as a volunteer. Dennis has been a volunteer with KHS for about four years and his favorite thing about being a KHS volunteer is “helping out staff so that they can concentrate on the animals!” Dennis says that every time he leaves East Campus, he is in a good mood since he’s able to have a part in helping the animals and he loves interacting with the animals.
Dennis was nominated by multiple East Campus staff, who say he embodies every facet of the KHS Core Values by always being ‘paw’sitive, compassionate, inspiring others, and ever-evolving. Staff say, “Dennis is always helpful and when staff are too busy with animal care and adoptions to even take a breath, it’s so nice that he’s continuously working on laundry and dishes so we don’t get more behind. He is such a great member of our team at East Campus and is so extremely helpful! We love Dennis!”
Dennis’ advice for new volunteers is to not be afraid to go in and help out in any way possible! His favorite memories as a volunteer at KHS are seeing puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats finding their forever home and knowing he played a part in that.
Congratulations to Dennis Lawrence for being nominated by the East Campus Adoptions Staff as East Campus Volunteer of the Year!
Photography Volunteer of the Year: Jennifer Schoenegge
There’s nothing quite like a great photo of a beloved furry friend. Here at KHS, we are blessed with a team of photography volunteers who take amazing photos of our shelter animals so that when potential adopters look at them on our website, they can’t help but fall in love. Jennifer Schoenegge was nominated by our PR/Marketing Director Andrea B. as Photography Volunteer of the Year because her dedication, talent, and ‘paw’sitive nature make her an incredible asset to KHS and our animals.
Jennifer is an immensely talented photographer and for over 3 ½ years, she has taken photos a few days a week at KHS for the PR/Marketing team to use in print, web, and other designs. Her signature style helps shelter animals get adopted faster, and she’s taken photos of the Waggin’ Trail top fundraiser’s pet to be used in the following year’s promotional materials as well as the photos of a dog that will be featured on KHS’ new Veterinary Mobile Unit!
For the last several years, Jennifer has taken photos of the animal featured in the KHS holiday campaign, which is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and is always up for taking photos of our special cases like the animals brought in from Hurricane Ida area shelters. During COVID, when volunteers were not allowed in the shelters, Jennifer and her daughter assisted the Outreach Team by signing thank you letters to donors. And when we were finally able to welcome volunteers back into the shelters, Jennifer came in to clean, stock, and rearrange the pet photography room at Main Campus.
When asked her favorite memory as a volunteer with KHS, Jennifer had this to say, “I was thrilled with the opportunity to meet and photograph Ethan earlier this year. It was like getting to meet a rock star! I was absolutely giddy with excitement and I will admit I shamelessly filled my camera roll with a ton of selfies of both of us.” Her advice for new volunteers is to “just say ‘yes’ to any and all volunteer opportunities offered.”
Congratulations to Jennifer Schoenegge for being nominated by the PR/Marketing Team as Photography Volunteer of the Year!
Jennifer Schoenegge, Photography Volunteer of the Year
S.N.I.P. Clinic Volunteer of the Year: Becky Edwards
According to S.N.I.P. Clinic staff, Becky Edwards is brightens every day that she comes in to volunteer. She embraces optimism at all times with animals, with fellow volunteers and staff, and with the community. She’s been volunteering at the S.N.I.P. Clinic for nine months and has made such an impact in that time, that she was nominated not once, not twice, but three times for S.N.I.P. Clinic’s Volunteer of the Year!
KHS staff member Adam B. had this to say about Becky: “Becky is tremendously amazing. As soon as she walks through the door, she is ready to help. Always smiling and upbeat, Becky brightens every day she volunteers. Her kind heart and upbeat attitude is infectious to all the staff and the animals. Whether she’s caring for a crying animal or doing the grunt of daily tasks, Becky is wonderful.”
Becky shared her favorite memory volunteering at the S.N.I.P. Clinic and it’s sweet enough to make your tooth ache: “One day after most of the animals had been picked up and tasks were complete, the vet techs and I sat on the floor with a litter of four adorable puppies and played with them. It was a great way to end a day of hard work!” Becky also fosters with KHS and volunteers with the Center for Women and Families as a legal advocate in domestic violence court. She also delivers meals to the elderly. She’s an inspiration!
Staff member Chaya H. pointed out that Becky is flexible if the S.N.I.P. Clinic needs her on alternate days and she even brings snacks! She also recruits other volunteers to come help at the clinic and her advice to new volunteers is very straightforward and helpful: “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and ask lots of questions!” Staff member Krystal H. also added, “Becky always has a smile on her face – even when animals are messy or scared. She’s been a great addition to the volunteer team and loves helping out.”
Congratulations to Becky Edwards for being nominated by S.N.I.P. Clinic staff as S.N.I.P. Clinic Volunteer of the Year!
Main Campus Volunteer of the Year: Tracy Smith
Compassion is a cornerstone of the animal welfare community and is one of KHS’ core values. A volunteer who lives and breathes that wonderful trait is none other than Main Campus volunteer Tracy Smith. Tracy has been a volunteer with KHS since 2005 and if we’re doing the math right, that comes out to… a lot of years!
A perfect illustration of Tracy’s compassion is her most favorite memory from all her years as a KHS volunteer: “My favorite memory will always be finding my two senior babies, Chewy and Laine. Even though they are now at The Bridge, I will never regret adopting a senior. I will always encourage senior adoption.” See what we mean about compassion? Tracy’s got it in spades!
KHS’ Social Media Manager Megan B. had this to say about Tracy: “She volunteers weekly at the Main Campus and makes sure all of our adult dogs have a good walk, their runs are clean, and they have treats and enrichment. She is so kind and always says hello when I see her. She’s a quiet volunteer so she often goes under the radar but she absolutely deserves to be highlighted! She is kind to the animals, kind to staff, and always willing to help!”
If anyone is an expert on volunteering at KHS, it would be Tracy and what keeps her coming back each year? Tracy says that her favorite thing about being a KHS volunteer is that, “No matter how bad of a day you may be having, once you see a little puppy or kitten or you get a kiss from an old dog just wanting some love, you feel better.” Well, who could possibly argue with that?
Congratulations to Tracy Smith for being nominated by Main Campus staff as Main Campus Volunteer of the Year!
Outreach Volunteer of the Year: Dawn Poenie
Dawn Poenie has been a volunteer with KHS for more than 23 years. She’s formed a close relationship with the Outreach Team and is always ready and willing to answer their calls for help for anything from folding letters to stuff into envelopes, passing out Wag Bags for Waggin’ Trail, unloading trucks at Main Campus, and helping out at the golf course for Pars for Pets!
Dawn always brings a smile to staff member’s faces and sighs of relief can be heard in the Outreach Team’s hallway when she comes through yet again to help out with whatever we need. Her favorite thing about being a KHS volunteer is: “Helping the animals! I love the variety of special events KHS holds to generate money and awareness to help homeless animals.”
The Outreach Team relies on Dawn for a lot and wouldn’t know what to do without her. She’s referred to as “the Life Saver” or “the Rock Star” among the Outreach Team as she always helps out with whatever they need and represents KHS so well to the community. She’s even donated items for our admin staff like a printer, office chair, and air fryer that we use daily!
Dawn’s favorite memory from her time volunteering in 2021 is meeting Ethan! Dawn was also very glad to get out and volunteer again. She enjoyed meeting new staff members, interacting with the pets and patrons at our events, and being a part of fur babies finding their forever homes! Dawn’s advice for new volunteers is to, “Just enjoy! You ARE making a difference.” Dawn inspires us with her go getter attitude, compassion, and flexibility with helping us whenever we need her!
Congratulations to Dawn Poenie for being nominated by Outreach staff as Outreach Volunteer of the Year!