Voorhees Animal Orphanage recipient of “Hometown Heroes” project

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For the second year in a row, Lowe’s Home Improvement selected the Voorhees Animal Orphanage as the recipient for its “Hometown Heroes” project. Employees from the home improvement store on Route 73 repaired two of the roofs of the VAO’s outdoor kennel runs on Nov. 16.

Store Manager Mielyn Casa-Caylor said every Lowe’s is given an annual budget to do something within their community.

“We love animals and the store was really adamant they wanted to do something with the shelter,” she said. “I see why because they take such good care of the animals.”

The previous year, Lowe’s repaired two other roofs that wouldn’t have made it through the winter, according to Jennifer Bailey, Marketing Director for the Voorhees Animal Orphanage.

“You can’t put it into words because they donated their time and their supplies,” Bailey said. “The wooden structures underneath the roofs were not stable. In the past with snow and ice on the roofs, it was cracked and the wood underneath as a result was wet. We’d have to shovel and push all the ice and snow off right away, otherwise it’d be in danger of collapsing on the animals.”

The orphanage operates out of small, outdated sheds on Cooper Road, and is in dire need of a new building. Its only income is the money they receive from the 15 towns they cover, and Bailey said it’s barely enough to keep the lights on. They rely on donations, both money and food.

The VAO is currently raising money for a new building to coincide with the organization’s 30th anniversary in 2018. Their capital campaign goal is $1.6 million and have raised around $500,000 to date.

“All the time and money to fix the band aids that hold the building together, if we had a building that would actually run properly, it would make such a difference,” Bailey said. “It’s not just the quality for animals but from a financial perspective it’s huge. Once the building is up and running and efficient, we can do bigger things.”

One of the bigger things she mentioned is having more space so they save more animals from other shelters.

“We are the local community shelter,” Bailey said. “If you live in Voorhees and your pets get lost, they come to us. We are a shelter so we take in all the strays. When space allows we are more of an adoption center and we can save high kill or overcrowded shelters so we can adopt them out. We don’t have the luxury of having a rescue generating clinic because we are so constricted by our building.”

Bailey said they’ve been on an upward trend over the past two years with their adoption rate up almost 40 percent and had their 1,000th adoption for the year on Nov. 2.

“We are doing really great things, but imagine if we didn’t have to spend all our money on gluing the building together every time the building breaks,” she said. “We are still looking for that golden angel. Once you see the building and our offices in sheds, it strikes you. You think, I understand why they need it.”

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