The new centre manager at the Lennox and Addington branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (L&A OSPCA) isn’t a new face around Greater Napanee.
Esther McCutcheon grew up on a hobby farm in the Roblin area, attended NDSS, and completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Laurentian University while commuting to Kingston’s St. Lawrence College. While she may not have a professional background in animal management, McCutcheon has been around dogs and cats her whole life.
After working in the private sector for several years, was looking for a career with strong community involvement and she decided she could find that right in her own hometown.
“The not-for-profit sector has been an interest of mine. Coming into not-for-profit, it becomes more than a job. It’s more than somewhere you go for the day and then go home. It’s something you can make a difference in doing,” she said. “When this position here came up, it seemed like a no-brainer for me.”
While caring for animals is paramount at the shelter, McCutcheon said it is also a place that support people and brings them together around that common interest of treating animals humanely. It offers volunteer opportunities and a sense of belonging for many.
After a month, McCutcheon can see that her business background and human resources training can help her bring that community together. One of her duties ahead is volunteer recognition for National Volunteer Week this month and she said there’s an exceptional crop involved.
“The volunteers we have now are lovely volunteers. All the volunteers we have are so selfless. They don’t ask for a lot of recognition or anything in return. For them, the animals are the most important thing,” she said. “Having those people coming fro this community speaks a lot too. It’s a very giving group of people.”
McCutcheon may also help inject some new ideas and experience into a well-oiled machine responsible for raising much of the centre’s budget. She believes her familiarity with the community may introduce new connections for fundraising. Thus far, that support has been evident.
“We only bring in a very small amount of operating costs, so we do rely on the community because there are quite a few animal shelters across the province. Each animal shelter relies heavily on the community to stay open. It really is up to the community if they value the service and what we’re providing here.”
Two major events are in the offing — a dance called Party For Paws, May 26, at the old arena and the annual walkathon in September at Conservation Park. McCutcheon also encourages people to have their own fundraising events and offer donations.
“The big thing is they think of us,” she said.
Wherever she has gone in the past month, McCutcheon has also been trying to promote the centre’s electronics recycling, can recycling, and liquor bottle return programs.
“Those things are year-round,” she said. “I try to promote those as often as possible. Those are things people can give that don’t cost them anything.”
Beyond those basics, McCutcheon said she’s enjoying learning about the day-to-day functions of the centre, including animal care. She said there are great animal care attendants in place doing that work regularly. As she goes, she picks up more and more knowledge.
“I have a lot to learn, but I’m a very flexible person. I enjoy new experiences, so I’m really enjoying this so far,” she said. “Besides, I can go to the next room and pet a cat for a few minutes, then return to work. Who wouldn’t want that?”