With our building 90% completed, we are well on our way to what we expect will be a terrific 2014.
Thank you for everything you did to make it a reality!
Auld Lang Syne 2013
As we look back at 2013, we are still amazed that in January when we decided to find a building to assure the continuation of MO HRS the perfect property turned up only a little more than a month later and at a price we could manage. It was a gem: a 5,000-square-foot office building, 16 years old, well built and in great condition, on nearly 4 acres in St. Louis County. But, as a commercial building, it required a 20% down payment. Joy Gioia, our chapter manager, initiated a frantic campaign on Crowdtilt that brought in the $34,000 we needed to place our bid on the building. As fate would have it, on that same day, two other bids went in but after an anxious couple of weeks we learned that ours was selected. We were able to obtain a mortgage from US Bank after the bank reviewed our books and decided we were a good risk. Joy then had to tread through a forest of red tape to obtain a conditional use permit from St. Louis County so we could operate as a nonprofit in a commercial building located in a residential zone.
When we closed on the purchase of the building, we hosted a celebration August 17 so everyone could see the building they had helped us acquire. Among the photos taken to celebrate The Bunny House was the last one we would have of Elaine Moser, our dear friend and beloved board member. We are exceedingly grateful that she was able to be there to celebrate the dream come true of having a bunny shelter and headquarters for MO HRS.
Though sorely missing her, things had to move forward and Elaine would have been the first to encourage it. We got busy on the items needed to qualify for an occupancy permit and what we needed to care for the bunnies (plumbing for washers and sink, electrical for dryers, phones, fire codes, meeting all codes, utilities, etc. etc. etc.) Whew! But we weren’t done. Cleaning and sealing grout, painting walls, putting in a super surface garage floor, security locks, and much more followed with many members spending huge numbers of hours and giving more donations to get it all done in time to move the bunnies in before cold weather was upon us. Then, on November 16, WE MOVED THE BUNNIES TO THE NEW BUILDING!
There are still things to be finished, but it’s looking fantastic. It must be said that we have the best members and volunteers in the whole world. YOU ARE WONDERFUL! THANK YOU! The bunnies and all of the volunteers at the new building will definitely have a wonderful new year.
The History of MO HRS
Many of you have joined us in recent years and are not familiar with the history of our chapter. So, upon the momentous occasion of our new building and the 25th anniversary of the national/international House Rabbit Society, we wanted to enlighten you.
The seed was planted 1995 when Robin Rysavy, an independent rabbit rescuer in Kansas City, applied to become a chapter of the House Rabbit Society. When a K.C. member, Elizabeth Felling, moved to St. Louis in 1997, she started meeting with some like-minded bunny lovers. In February 1998, Joy attended one of the meetings at the home of Karen & Max Wawrzyniak, who remain active members today. Joy had taken in five abandoned bunnies and one had promptly delivered six babies so she became a very interested participant in the St. Louis group. In late 1998, Robin Rysavy asked Joy to lead the group because of her extensive background in cottontail rescue, her medical knowledge gained from working in wildlife rehabilitation and her professional experience as a board member of Wildlife Rehab. It
was also in 1998, with the help of member and HRS Educator Jane
Beadles, that the House Rabbit Society of Missouri was incorporated and
obtained its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. In December 1999, the House Rabbit Society appointed Joy to be chapter manager. As such, she was mandated to be responsible for and oversee all activities of the St. Louis organization, including its foster rabbits, events and volunteers, as well as maintaining a financially successful organization that does rescue, care, adoption and education.
In those early years, there were only a couple of foster homes with 2 or 3 bunnies each, so Joy’s basement became the center of foster care. There wasn't a source of funding so Joy paid for the spays, neuters, medical care, cages, equipment, food and hay. When Cheryl Mill joined the group and volunteered to become our treasurer (we are blessed to have a treasurer who is a CPA with a long background in tax-exempt organizations,) the House Rabbit Society of Missouri opened its first bank account with $300, and rejoiced.
Joy continues as chapter manager and is responsible to national HRS for MO HRS as an organization, which includes the responsibility for overall daily management, shelter management, foster care, activities and volunteers. If you have questions regarding MO HRS or have an interest in volunteering, please contact Joy, 636-349-0606, or email email@example.com
MO HRS has survived far longer than most rescue organizations, is one of the most active HRS chapters in the nation and has remained 100% volunteer. In our 17-year history, we have found homes for more than 2,000 homeless rabbits. This is to your credit and a true measure of what all of us, working together, have achieved. No organization or company achieves success only from the top. Each smile you offer a new person, each hour you volunteer at the shelter or an event, each time you reach out to help another bunny owner - it all contributes to improving the quality of life for the vulnerable, loveable creatures that we believe deserve a good life. For all the things you have done and continue to do for our chapter and for our new shelter, we applaud you and we are grateful. Thank You! Together, we will have a wonderful 2014 and, hopefully, many more to come!