Volunteer/Staff Appreciation Event

by Margaret Cate

On the evening of October 5, more than 600 volunteers and staff gathered at the Denver Marriott South for the annual Dumb Friends League appreciation event. Everyone joined together for a common purpose—to celebrate another year of service and excellence. Guests described the occasion as being lovely and inspiring. Upon arrival, partygoers could enter to win one of 29 different raffles. The prizes included a wide variety of meals from assorted Denver eateries, tickets to the Denver Zoo and the Molly Brown House, a trip to Central City and pet portraits by Mary Clark and Rick Hunckler.

After the cocktail hour, everyone gathered in the main ballroom to hear Dr. Apryl Steele’s remarks. Apryl began by sharing some of the lesser-known staff and volunteer accomplishments from the past year. For example, the Dumb Friends League performed more than 25,000 spay/neuter surgeries on cats and dogs, completed 85,800 exams on animals, successfully placed 605 working cats, logged 211,000 volunteer hours and walked 3,000 miles with shelter dogs, all during the last 12 months. Apryl then spoke briefly about providing relief to economically challenged pet owners and impacting animal welfare in rural Colorado, two strategic initiatives that the Dumb Friends League is currently undertaking.

A short video was shown, which celebrated 108 years of service to the community. It highlighted single moments of transformation, connection and love between animals and their human friends. There were many tear-filled eyes in the room when it ended. Of course, the highlight of the night was the awards ceremony. Longtime Denver DJ, Murphy Huston, took the podium to announce the winners. Russ Witzke, Facilities Manager, was named Employee of the Year. Seventeen-year-old Michelle Craig took home the Young Adult Volunteer of the Year award. Rosie Rosenzweig was named the Lotte Jehlik Volunteer of the Year. Robin Becky received the Dedicated Service Award for her 30 years of service at Quebec and Harmony. Many congratulations to Russ, Michelle, Rosie and Robin!

After the awards ceremony, guests enjoyed a Mexican themed buffet before departing with colorful handmade cookies, decorated with adorable images of cats and dogs. Suga Me Sweet, a Highlands Ranch bakery, provided the take-home treats.

Mary Janak, a volunteer, summed up the evening perfectly when she said, “Everyone is here for the animals and something larger than themselves.” Here’s to the dedication and contribution of each and every volunteer and staff member. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished when we come together for the higher purpose of compassionate service.

See photos of the event.