A Message from our President…
As new Board President, I had originally prepared an introductory message that described our recently prepared Ten Year Strategic Plan and the many initiatives that we are excitedly and diligently pursuing in an effort to continually improve the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society (CPHS) and ultimately ensure that we give our fullest measure of aid to all of the thousands of animals in need that cross our threshold each year.
That message took a decidedly different turn when our beloved Alex – a beautiful, gentle tortoiseshell cat who we rescued nearly 20 years ago – passed away yesterday from kidney failure from old age. She was a wonderful lap cat who purred volumes louder than her slight eight pounds. In her younger years, Alex was often a spry fixture atop our kitchen cabinets to escape the cold, wet, annoying noses of our ever-curious dogs. At night, she hunted the dark corners of our house, keeping us free from those multi-legged critters that favor the shadows. And she was a bosom companion to another of our rescued cats, Madeline.
Like I have with all of our dear, four-legged companions who have crossed theRainbowBridge, I wept. I thought about Alex’s condition these past months (her condition had been diagnosed a year ago) and painfully wondered if we could have done more despite reassurances from our vet that her condition was irreversible. I thought of times I should have been more patient when I was busy working and Alex’s soft paw on my arm or chest or face indicated that she simply wanted a few seconds of some extra attention. Did we give her the very best of ourselves over her life? Did we give her as much as she gave to us?
And then I thought about what could have happened to Alex if she hadn’t been rescued and given at least a second chance at the very long life she enjoyed.
THIS is, in fact, the very reason for CPHS’s existence: To afford those forgotten and discarded animals an opportunity at a better life. I say “opportunity” because it is just that. If CPHS had unlimited financial resources, unlimited staff and volunteers, no physical facility constraints, and unanimous community support, it could comfortably achieve its dream of helping every animal in need. Reality capriciously dictates otherwise, so we do the best we can – and I’d like to think that tens of thousands of animals who have found their forever homes since CPHS opened its doors in 1962 might agree.
Does that mean there is no room for improvement? Absolutely not. The reason CPHS completed a Ten Year Strategic Plan was because we unequivocally understand that we can always do things better. The great challenge is prioritizing and tackling many competing needs simply because CPHS can’t do them all at once.
As a board member of CPHS for the past several years, I am humbled, honored, and admittedly a little apprehensive to have been asked to serve as Board President. Because CPHS maintains an open-door policy – we turn no animal in need away, we face challenges and, at times, criticisms that many other shelters and rescues do not. Yet, our vision remains clear and unfaltering: we – the Board, our experienced staff, our compassionate volunteers, and our supportive community – are united by the privilege and joy we experience each time we rescue an animal and give the animal the opportunity of a better life, even though that animal cannot speak for itself.
A sweet, gentle tortoiseshell cat was given such an opportunity nearly 20 years ago. I hope CPHS continues to provide thousands of such opportunities in 2013 and many, many years beyond.
Brian Uhlinger, CPHS Board President