VAO anticipates new building completion in February

Memorial Garden to be constructed thanks to grant

The Voorhees Animal Orphanage, currently nearing the completion of Phase II of its construction project for its new building, anticipates being able to move in to the new wing in mid-February.

The Voorhees Animal Orphanage (VAO) recently received a $25,000 grant from the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation toward construction of a new animal shelter and a long-awaited new office facility.

“We are beyond grateful for the Rohrer Charitable Foundation’s generous donation,” VAO Marketing Director Jennifer Bailey said. “As a nonprofit, we’ve been scraping and saving for years to make our dream shelter a reality.

“This grant will help us get one step closer to meeting our $1.6-million goal of funding our Building a Pawsitive Future capital campaign to build a new shelter for dogs and cats as they embark on their journey toward their forever homes.”

Currently in Phase II of its construction project, Bailey says the VAO anticipates celebrating the opening of its new shelter during mid-February, complete with a ‘leash-cutting’ rather than a ribbon cutting, in honor of the nearly 2,000 cats and dogs the VAO is able to save every year.

The VAO broke ground last April on Phase I of its project after surpassing the $1-million mark in its capital campaign, thanks to a donation from a Cherry Hill resident. Phase I saw the construction of 42 kennels in eight weeks. Phase II encompasses construction of the main portion of the new building, including executive offices, a waiting room, facilities and  an additional 26 kennels.

The frame of the newly constructed portion of the building has been built and connected to the portion constructed during Phase I. Over the next two to three weeks, facilities will be installed and equipment and furniture will be moved in.

“This is a dream that’s been in the making for over 10 years now,” Bailey said during a tour of the nearly complete building. “It was surreal when we were able to knock down the old building and move into the small wing [while the other portion was constructed].

“Now that we can pull into the parking lot and see the completed building and completed façade is a dream come true for us here.”

The VAO has remained open throughout the construction process and will continue to do so as it moves into its new building this month. In the spring, the shelter will get a parking lot to replace its familiar rocky driveway and a memorial garden will be installed on the  grounds, the cost of which residents can offset by making donations.

To donate to and support the VAO, visit its website at www.vaonj.org and click the banner to purchase a customizable brick that can be used to remember past loved ones and pets, or simply as a way to contribute to the nonprofit.

“We’re going to fill up that garden with personalized memorial bricks and benches,” Bailey noted. “Additionally, with the William G. Rohrer grant that we recently received, we will be naming it in his honor.”

Each brick allows space for three lines, with a maximum of 20 spaces per line. Payment and information is required by Saturday, Feb. 15. The VAO is expected to receive 2,000 total brick orders. The nonprofit plans a ceremony to celebrate the memorial garden’s spring opening.

The VAO is approximately $300,000 short of its $1.6-million capital campaign goal to be  debt free, so the nonprofit can focus more on operational costs for animals who come through its doors.

The shelter covers 26 municipalities in New Jersey, 19 of which are in Camden County. They include Voorhees Township and Berlin Borough.