Cheryl Wicks: Sammie’s Friends, one year later
The sun is shining, spring is in the air, so much has happened at Sammie’s Friends since our crisis last year, at this time, when we were notified that Nevada County was going to send our animals to Placer County and not renew Sammie’s Friends contract.
We were broken-hearted and traumatized and worried sick for the animals. Our community, all of you, let it be known that this was not acceptable to you. Sammie’s Friends had been doing a great job (the euthanasia rate had been reduced from 68% to less than 1%; 28,000 lives had been saved) and had changed the way animals are treated in Nevada County.
As they say “Every cloud has a silver lining.” In this case that is surely true. Sammie’s Friends is thriving and doing better than ever. This is good for the animals and the community. There is a new sheriff in town. We contract specifically with this department of the county. We are confident that we will get the support we need from our new sheriff. Sammie’s Friends and Animal Control are working better than ever together.
Curt (Romander) and I have replaced ourselves with two fabulous people, Lorie Hennessey, shelter director and Liz Taylor, finance director. We are so happy with our selection of these two people. Their fresh ideas and enthusiasm are boundless and so, so welcome. Liz has developed a new shelter tracking system called “Shelter Tracker.” This will replace the Pet Point system which began as an expense of $3,000 per year to the county and escalated to $15,000 per year. Shelter Tracker will be $31 per month and is so much easier to use. A new system was a requirement of our contract. We are ecstatic with this new program.
What will Cheryl and Curt be doing now? We are president and vice president of the board of directors. We administer our community programs which are veterinary assistance for animals in low-income homes and our spay/neuter program for community animals. We are major fundraisers for the community programs we support and for Sammie’s Friends contribution to the shelter operation. We couldn’t be happier with our new arrangement. After seven days a week non-stop for many years we are happy to lead a bit more relaxed life.
We do, of course, miss Hank Weston, outgoing Supervisor for District 4. Hank was always there for Sammie’s Friends to help us through our trials and tribulations. We have every confidence that the new supervisor, Sue Hoek, will be there to support Sammie’s Friends should we need it.
We appreciated the support that we received from Rick Haffey, the outgoing CEO, over the years. He was always the voice of reason when things were difficult. We are grateful, also that Nevada County selected a great new CEO, Alison Lehman, to carry on the leadership role. We have appreciated Alison’s support in the past and will continue to do so.
Sammie’s Friends, through our new contract, receives more money from the county to support the shelter. This helps us a great deal. Over the years Sammie’s Friends was taking on more responsibility and subsidizing the shelter to a back-breaking degree. We do not feel this onerous burden any longer. A big thanks to Nevada County for picking up their share of the tab. Sammie’s Friends still puts in $230,000 for medical care for the shelter animals. Something we have done since 2004. We have always had this commitment and that was to be our portion of caring for the shelter animals.
Everything is coming up roses. Everybody is happy these days: the animals, Sammie’s Friends, Animal Control and our ever loving animal community. All pulling together allows all of us to do great things for the animals! In hindsight, we are grateful for the crisis of 2018. Everything got better. Thanks everybody.
Cheryl Wicks is co-founder and president of Sammie’s Friends began her work at the Nevada County Animal Shelter in 2001 with a volunteer program and a 501(C)(3) Sammie’s Friends to pay for medical care, eventually leading to operating the shelter, along with her partner Curt Romander, in 2010. Cheryl came from the high tech world of Silicon Valley. Her first pet, Sammie, entered her life at 43 years old and nothing’s been the same since.
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