Know your nonprofit: Sammie’s Friends |

Know your nonprofit: Sammie’s Friends

Sammie's Friends was formed after Curt Romander and Cheryl Wicks moved to Grass Valley in 2000. Here, Romander holds Debbie's leash while Wicks holds Taffy.
Submitted photo |

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Phone: 530-272-8833


Facebook: Sammie’s Friends

Know Your Nonprofit is a weekly Q&A feature with western Nevada County nonprofit organizations. 


What is your mission statement?

Sammie’s Friends provides medical care for the animals at the Nevada County Animal Shelter, making them adoptable, and providing support for other disadvantaged animals in Nevada County that would otherwise be euthanized, to end their suffering. Sammie’s Friends also operates the Nevada County Animal Shelter.

Briefly, when and how did your nonprofit start?

Cheryl Wicks and Curt Romander moved to Grass Valley in 2000 with their three dogs, Sammie, Destiny and Mon-Mon. Cheryl visited the Nevada County Animal Shelter to walk the dogs once a week to give them a break from the Shelter. She quickly learned that 68 percent of the animals were being euthanized. She felt that a volunteer program might help, so she started a program in 2001. Within a year she had a 100 volunteers to walk the dogs and cuddle the cats. Not surprisingly, the euthanasia rate went down. In 2004 Curt created a 501(c)(3) to pay for the medical care of the Shelter animals. A spay/neuter program was began for Nevada County animals in 2011 resulting in over 6,666 animals being spayed/neutered. This brought the euthanasia rate down further. A food program to North San Juan and Washington was started in 2002. In 2005 the medical program was expanded to pay for care of pets in low/no income homes. By 2006 the rate was down from 68 percent to 2 percent due to the Founders’ leadership and the hard working volunteers.

What is your annual budget (optional)?

The annual budget is approximately $900,000.


What are the primary sources of funding?

About half of the expenses for running the shelter are paid by Nevada County. The other half of the shelter expenses and the community program are paid for by money raised by Sammie’s Friends through our thrift store, Sammie’s Nifty Thrift, grants, donations and events.


How many employees does the organization have?

We employ two full-time and nine part-time individuals who work at the shelter and five part-time employees who work at our thrift stores. The two founders are also part of the organization.


Who is your primary audience, the people who benefit the most from your organization?

Our primary audience is the pet owners and potential pet owners of Nevada County. Our animals are adopted by people in Nevada County and across the region. We also have dogs living in at least a dozen other states, two in Canada and one in Mexico. In addition, our cats have been adopted across Northern California and in at least four other states. Our community medical care program is only available to low-income people living in Nevada County.


What is your primary service area (specific city, countywide, the region?)

Nevada County


List the biggest achievements in your nonprofit’s history (up to three).

Lowering the euthanasia rate from 68 percent to less than 1 percent

Saving the lives of 30,000 animals

Opening up a new cat facility so our cats don’t have to live in the same building with our noisy dogs.


List the biggest challenges you face (up to three).

Raising enough money to keep it all going.

In spite of our Herculean efforts to spay and neuter animals, we continue to have an overabundance of pit bulls and cats. The public needs to do more to get their animals spayed and neutered. We give out vouchers to support spay and neuter. The public just needs to ask for them.

Our work is physically, emotionally and mentally intense. We work very hard to prevent burn-out.

What is your primary goal for the next year?

Find enough financial resources to renew our county contract in July of 2018.

What is your primary goal for the next three to five years?

Find the funding and create a succession plan to replace the founders.


What are your major fundraisers and the dates for these events in 2017?

We have a Wag-N-Walk-A-Thon scheduled for Sept. 9 at Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley. Check our web page for details.

How can someone become involved with your organization?

There are lots of opportunities for volunteers. Individuals can volunteer as a dog walker, cat cuddler, office worker or at our thrift store. We always appreciate it when people donate funds, foster animals, cat and dog food, raise money, and/or plan events.


What kind of skills are you looking for from volunteers?

We are looking for people who have a willing spirit, are reliable, team oriented and love animals. It is an added plus when volunteers have some experience with animals.

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