In the late 1920’s, a woman name Virginia Lavender started an organization for the humane care of animals – a forerunner to today’s Cascades Humane Society. To our knowledge, at that time, it was never formally incorporated. Virginia spent most of her time rescuing sick and injured animals, having them treated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and placing them in homes. Most of the cost for the animals came out of her own pocket.
Because of her example,the Animal Welfare League of Jackson, Inc. (now know as Cascades Humane Society) was organized and incorporated on January 23, 1952 by Kenneth Dunning and Edith Dunning (brother and sister) along with Gertrude Campbell, Betty Bishop, Phyllis Frye and Janet Lindquist. This caring group of people created bylaws, held meetings and kept animals that needed help in their homes. They charged membership dues and received donations to help pay the animals vet bills – but the majority of the money needed for expenses came out of their own pockets. In June 1966, the IRS granted the Animal Welfare League of Jackson its tax-exempt status making it a 501(c)3 organization.
In 1977, the organization rented a building (former vet’s office) on Blake Road just off Elm Street for use as a shelter. There was a cat room, a dog room and ten outside runs. They also hired an Executive Director – but that position only lasted about a year. The shelter operation was meager at best and there were not enough funds to support and improve it. It closed in 1980. When the shelter closed, the organization rented office space at 501 West Franklin Street.
In 1981, a certificate of assumed name was filed to do business as Cascades Humane Society.
In 1984, Dr. Pat Gorczyca opened Blackman Animal Clinic. He provided discounted, and many times free, veterinary care for the animals of Cascades Humane Society (CHS). In addition, he discounted his costs for people that applied through CHS for spay/neuter surgeries or medical assistance. Dr. Gorczyca, through his kindness to and from friendship with Doris Upp, was instrumental in her decision to leave her entire estate to CHS. He became a member of the Board of Directors in 1996.
In 1987, the office moved to the Armory Court Building at 634 North Mechanic Street. In 1993, Peter Weatherwax, a Jackson philanthropist and animal lover, donated $35,000 to create some office space for the Society in a warehouse he owned at 626 North Mechanic Street. He only charged CHS $100 a month rent. (The $100 rent was probably just for tax purposes.)
In January of 1996, Mr. Weatherwax told CHS that he would donate the property it was on to build a shelter and he would give the organization money to build it. An architect donated his talent and drew up plans to remodel the existing building (approximately $550,000) and the Board interviewed two firms concerning a feasibility study. Unfortunately, Mr. Weatherwax became ill shortly thereafter and died unexpectedly. He was a very kind and generous man and should always be remembered as a wonderful supporter of the Humane Society’s mission and purpose even though he died before his intentions could be carried out. Years later, it was discovered that the land he was to donate was contaminated and unbuildable. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise that the Society did not receive the land.
In August of 1996, an Executive Director was hired to move the organization forward in terms of community awareness and perception, financial assistance, office management, program expansion, etc. In December of 1996, the organization was changed from being organized on a membership basis to a directorship basis. In 1997, the bylaws were updated and the Articles of Incorporation were restated in preparation for a future Feasibility Study and Capital Campaign to build a Humane Society Shelter and Adoption Center.
The year 1998 was spent enhancing programs, increasing fundraisers, getting state-of-the-art financial systems in place and preparing for the Feasibility Study taking place in 1999.
In early 2000, pre-campaign planning was done and on Thursday, May 11, 2000 the first Campaign Cabinet meeting was held. The goal to reach was $1.3 million. Campaign co-chairs were Georgia Fojtasek, CEO of Foote Hospital and Brad Weeks, Vice President of Comerica Bank. Later, Brad Weeks moved to California and Kirk Mercer of R. W. Mercer Co. took over as co-chair. Other cabinet members were Charles Aymond, Dick Burgess, Diane Cerqueira, A. P. and Bea Cook, Rick Davies, Carl English, Dan Evans, Judi Ganton, Dr. Patrick Gorczyca, Jim Grace, Dr. Edward and Helen Green, Mayor Martin Griffin, Daria Grinenko, Roy and Joan Kaywood, Marcia MacCready, John and Dee Murdy, Cheryl Norey, Doug Schaffer, Lilly Sill, Al Spiess, Jr. and Terry Wineland.
During this time, the Friends of Cascades Humane Society auxiliary was formed. A steering committee was put together to create bylaws, procedures, etc. On April 26, 2001, the Inaugural Board of Directors meeting of the Friends was held. The auxiliary’s purpose was to lend financial and volunteer support to CHS. They ran a majority of the fundraisers.
On September 19, 2001, a ground breaking ceremony was held at the site, but then legal problems with the road caused delays. Actual construction did not begin until a year later. During construction, it was discovered that the cost of the building was going to be substantially more than originally estimated. The Board of directors went to the Capital Campaign Cabinet requesting that the campaign goal be revised to $1.8 million. The Cabinet consented, fund raising continued and by the time the building was completed in October 2003, all but $180,000 had been raised.
On December 7, 2003, the Grand Opening of Cascades Humane Society Shelter and Adoption Center was held at 1515 Carmen Drive. Almost 1,500 people from the community came and toured the building.
A community in which all pets have loving homes and are treated with compassion and respect.
Revised May, 2011