Community rises to UPAWS challenge

Surpasses year-end goal

Mark and Christine Troudt pledged to match up to $100,000 donations to the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter from mid-October through Dec. 31. Local contributors have helped that goal to be met. Shown at the UPAWS fundraising gala in October, when the pledge was announced, are, from the left: Gail Anthony, of the Marquette County Community Foundation; Mark and Christine Troudt; Amber Wetton, gala chairwoman; and Kori Tossava, UPAWS executive director. (Submitted photo)

NEGAUNEE — The Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter surpassed its year-end goal.

At its sold-out annual fundraising gala, UPAWS announced the public kick-off for the Imagine the PAWSibilites: Campaign for an Animal Community Center. The kick-off included a $100,000 challenge match from the Troudt Fund at the Community Foundation of Marquette County. From Oct. 22 through Dec. 31, every dollar given to the capital campaign would be matched.

UPAWS reached $100,000 in gifts on Dec. 29, At that time Mark and Christine Troudt pledged another $10,000 to match any gift received or postmarked before the end of the year. At the completion of the challenge, UPAWS is announcing that approximately $120,000 was given in honor of the Troudt Challenge.

UPAWS will now receive the full $110,000 challenge gift from the Troudts, who reside in Wisconsin.

These gifts came from more than 250 individual donors, businesses, and foundations.

“The board, staff, and volunteers of UPAWS are honored to have such amazing support from the community,” said UPAWS Executive Director Kori Tossava in a news release.

Now that the Imagine the PAWSibilities Campaign to raise $3.7 million is underway, with the support of the Troudt Fund and the community, approximately $2.05 million (55 percent) has been raised. However, UPAWS still has a long way to go. Construction will depend on reaching 80 percent of the fundraising goal, with an expected groundbreaking this year.

The current UPAWS facility was built in 1978 and expanded in 1988. Animal intake and services at UPAWS has grown dramatically since its inception 40 years ago, but not the shelter space. Today, nearly 1,500 animals come through UPAWS’s open-admission, no-kill shelter each year. The shelter is a busy place, providing animals and pet owners with critical pet services. UPAWS performs the crucial role of finding homes for homeless animals, as well as reuniting lost pets with their families, and is a leader in the no-kill movement by consistently reaching an award-winning 98 percent save rate.

Beyond the small building size, many other issues compound the problem of providing a healthy and comfortable space for homeless animals, staff and volunteers. Building issues include: poor ventilation, power shortages, low water pressure, uneven heat distribution, mold, leaking roof, and close, small quarters creating high stress levels for animals, all of which generates a tougher adoption environment. Caring staff and volunteers at UPAWS have succeeded in making the best effort to run the shelter effectively and efficiently, but the building still lacks in meeting the basic needs for both animals and the community. The Animal Community Center will provide better comfort and care for animal companions, as well as community space and expanded services.

“As animal shelters are held to higher standards, as well as serving more diverse needs, it takes a cooperative spirit to fulfill the goal of a new facility that serves our animal companion needs and the community as a whole,” Tossava said in the release.