Voorhees Animal Orphanage continues on capital campaign for new building


The Voorhees Animal Orphanage was seeing red on May 12 when volunteers in red shirts swarmed the shelter to help with painting, weeding, cleaning and all manner of odd jobs as part of Keller Williams Realty’s Renew, Energize, Donate (RED) day of service.

The group chose to help the VAO this year as Realtor and Voorhees native Candy Niedoba was recently named co-chair of the VAO’s capital campaign to raise money for its new building to coincide with the organization’s 30th anniversary in 2018.

Even though the VAO has worked to place and rescue more than 20,000 cats and dogs since 1988, the group operates out of several small, outdated structures and sheds on its grounds on Cooper Road.

Niedoba said she started helping the VAO by holding fundraising events and spreading word of the shelter’s needs through connections in her realty work, and now with the co-chair title, she hopes to raise even more money.

“They do amazing work here, that’s what I love about them,” Niedoba said. “They go beyond any other shelter and so it’s just amazing … but they need a new building.”

To date, the VAO has raised more than $450,000 toward its capital campaign goal of $1.6 million, but according to VAO Board President and volunteer Dave Semless, the organization is still looking for an individual or group to donate a sizable amount of money to really help the VAO move forward.

“We get the typical community donations, which is great, thank you, it keeps our operations going, but we’ve haven’t found a golden angel yet, and that’s what we’re looking for … and that golden angel is a six to seven figure angel,” Semless said.

Semless said outside of compensation from the 15 municipal contracts where the VAO serves as the designated local shelter, the VAO is completely donation based and does not receive direct money from county or state sources.

Semless said the number of adoptions at the VAO has continued to rise through the years, so when kennel space is available after serving the VAO’s municipal contracts, the organization has been able to pull dogs from high kill shelters throughout New Jersey and from the southern United States.

“It’s good, it’s great, it’s fantastic, I mean it’s nuts,” Semless said. “For the first time ever the other day, there was a line waiting for us to open, a line waiting to get in here. I mean, we’ve never had that.”

Semless said the VAO is also looking to better differentiate itself and its needs from other shelters and animal rescue groups in the area that may get more resources but may not be required to take in certain animals like the VAO.

“We’re the community shelter for all of our municipalities. If anybody loses their animal, it’s coming to us,” Semless said.

Those looking to learn more about the VAO’s capital campaign or who wish to donate can visit www.vaonj.org/donate/capital-campaign.