Lori Rego loves animals. A lot. If she’s not at her desk at Crawford Electric Cooperative, there’s a good chance she’s helping cats and dogs at the city pound find good homes.
“I call it my full-time job outside of my full-time job,” Rego says of her work as president of Halo for Animals.
Halo, which stands for Home At Last Organization, works with the Sullivan, Missouri, pound as what Rego calls a “networking organization.” They don’t run the facility, but they work to make sure its residents find loving families.
That takes money, so when Rego heard about Cabot Creamery Co-op’s Reward Volunteers program on an NRECA listserv, she registered. Her efforts won Halo a $2,500 prize sponsored by CoBank’s Growing Rural America initiative.
“I’d say I spend—depending on the week—10 to 15 hours a week, at least, volunteering for Halo,” said Rego.
All she had to do for the Cabot program was enter those hours on the website. Halo won for August, when Rego logged 64 hours. So far this year she has recorded more than 250 hours.
“I don’t even log in all of my hours, because I forget to do it sometimes. Or I don’t always remember to keep track of how long I’m on the computer because I do most of our social media and our website.”
While the city operates the pound, there’s plenty for Halo to do, since there’s just one animal control officer.
“We do all the social media. I take most of the photos of the dogs and cats that are there so we can post them on Facebook. We have a local newspaper that prints pictures each week for us,” said Rego. The pets are also featured weekly on a local cable TV station.
Halo volunteers also help with cleaning and can handle adoption paperwork evenings and weekends when the animal control officer is off.
And then there’s the part where the $2,500 is desperately needed.
“We take care of all of the medical stuff that’s above and beyond what the city does. The city only does rabies vaccinations,” Rego explained.
“We have a dog right now, she came in—I’ve not seen one like this in a long time, this is a tough one—skin and bones, extremely dehydrated. We took her to the vet—which is not something the city would’ve been able to do,” said Rego. Penelope was diagnosed with pyometra, a deadly uterine infection. Halo got her a life-saving operation and Penelope was later adopted.
“That $2,500 came at the right time because this is going to cost us about $600.”
Tony Mallory, Crawford Electric’s CEO, is also pleased to see this.
“It’s great to see fellow cooperative organizations, like Cabot Creamery and CoBank, support efforts to make life better in rural areas,” said Mallory. “Like Lori, many of our employees donate their time to serve their communities. But additional funds are always welcome.”
Concern for community is a cooperative principle and Crawford Electric makes it easy for employees to live up to it.
“We have what’s called ‘CAT Time—Community Ambassador Time.’ We get 16 hours a year that we can also use during the day to go volunteer,” said Rego, who is the marketing communications coordinator at the Bourbon, Missouri-based co-op. “I’ve used my hours for Halo—all 16.”
Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.