Volunteers of the Month – February 2015

We have two volunteers of the month for February: Greg and Pat Wagner! They have been volunteering for Last Hope since 2005 and they have done MANY things for our animals.
They heard about Last Hope when they rescued a dog but didn’t want to turn her over to a kill shelter. A friend referred them to Last Hope that didn’t have a place for the dog at the time, but offered to help them find a forever home if they would foster her. Within a few weeks the dog was adopted and Greg and Pat were hooked. They knew this was something they wanted to continue with.
Since then they have fostered more than 50 dogs and have been a part of numerous adoption/microchip events and fundraisers. Greg acted as Santa for pictures and Pat was a Last Hope board member a few years ago. Lately, Greg has been putting in many hours at the new shelter doing cleaning, carpentry, and other miscellaneous handyman duties.
When asked why they like volunteering for Last Hope this is what they said:
“It’s been a wonderful journey while volunteering for LHAR and to watch Last Hope grow from just a handful of fosters to the large number of active volunteers and dedicated fosters that LHAR currently has, in addition to being a part of the transformation of a second shelter this year. The most rewarding, though, is being able to see each of our foster dogs find their forever homes.”
Thank you to Pat and Greg for their amazing work over the years!

Volunteer of the Month for January 2015

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     Our honoree for the month of January 2015 is Sarah Opiol! She has been volunteering for Last Hope since September 2014 and she’s done a wide variety of things for us.
     She said she has always wanted to volunteer with a rescue and she met Vicki (another volunteer with Last Hope) at a family member’s vet in Iowa City.  After that, she emailed Last Hope and started volunteering.
     The first thing that she was available to do was to volunteer at the NewBo market.  After that she started getting emails about all the things a volunteer can do with Last Hope and she hit the ground running. She has provided transports for several dogs to adoption events, pick-ups and drop-offs if we receive donations at an event or medication needs to be picked up from a vet in the Iowa City area, posting to Last Hope’s Facebook page about which animals are available for adoption and about shirts that we’re selling, sending out t-shirts if they were purchased from out of town, transporting items toevents that we sell, and she has been running the adoption events in Cedar Rapids and sometimes in Coralville. She is also a foster lead for the Iowa City area.
     Her main focus has been the adoption events and getting the animals on social media to help find them forever homes, but she also does home visits and adoptions.  She is not a foster, but did take in a dog because of the unique circumstances. They called him Meaty and he seemed to enjoy hanging out in the shop at work watching the guys. She recently found him a forever home and he is doing great!
     Here is what Sarah said about volunteering at Last Hope:
     “I enjoy volunteering with Last Hope because all of the people have something in common: The love for animals.  We are all busy with regular jobs but we do what we can to find forever homes for all of the animals that come to the rescue.
     “Last Hope Animal Rescue is absolutely amazing!  The people are great and the care that is given to the animals is incredible.  It is so nice to see how many fosters we have with Last Hope that are willing and able to provide these animals with a safe and loving environment until they find their forever homes.  I have really enjoyed seeing how successful the adoption events are and watching the animals go to their forever homes.  It has been a great experience and I look forward to seeing everything we can do!”
     Thank you for all you’ve contributed to Last Hope, Sarah! It’s volunteers like Sarah that make all of this work.
Julia Black


Volunteer of the Month for September 2014

This month we honor Susan Elliott-Bryan as volunteer of the month! Susan began working with Last Hope when she contacted Critter Crusaders that had a dog that wasn’t doing well in a cage. Last Hope agreed to take the dog and Susan agreed to foster him. The dog was Tommy and she worked with him for a year before he was put to sleep. It was a difficult situation and Susan thought perhaps her fostering days were behind her. But then she was asked to foster two feral dogs and they are coming along well.


Susan says, “What I like to do for Last Hope, when I’m not fostering in my home, is work with the dogs who will be more adoptable if they had better social skills.  I took training last winter with a fabulous woman in Austin, Texas who works especially with pit bulls and who expects owners to be the leader in the relationship with their dogs.  I also went to a Clicker Training Expo in California and learned about how clicker training works – I love it!  The dogs get clear messages and quickly learn which behaviors are rewarded and which are ignored. When a dog sits on command and shakes hands for instance, it is more apt to get attention from potential adopters.”


When she’s not fostering for Last Hope, Susan enjoys bicycling around the country. She says most dogs can learn to run alongside a bicycle and she enjoys the exercise for both her and the dog.


“I’ve had my share of difficult dogs and sad endings, but so many dogs can be saved!  With clear and realistic expectations, persistence, love and patience, anxious shelter dogs turn into loving family dogs. I like helping that happen.”
Thank you, Susan, for all the love and help you provide for our fosters!
julia sig

Volunteer of the Month – August 2014


Melissa Glasser is our wonderful volunteer of the month for August 2014. She has been an invaluable asset to the Last Hope team! She began volunteering for LHAR in March. She started by taking care of Landon, who had two broken legs. Melissa has helped by taking in Pit Puppiessome of our most needy dogs. She used to have a veterinary practice so she’s perfect in the role of caring for our special needs dogs. She has fostered a Pitbull puppy (originally Prince but now Magnus in his forever home), two diabetic dogs, and currently is also fostering the ten Pitbull puppies LHAR recently picked up.

In addition to fostering, Melissa also helps out at microchip clinics and she will be helping with the puppies’ vaccinations and deworming.

Melissa is a great asset to LHAR and we hope she continues to be a member of the team!

julia sig

Volunteer of the Month – July 2014

Congratulations to our volunteer of the month: Michelle Severson!

VOTM JulyMichelle has been volunteering for Last Hope for a year and a half and in that time she has contributed so much. She started out keeping  foster dogs at her house for people who were on vacation and dogs between foster homes.

About a year ago she took in her first two fosters and she was hooked. Ricky and Lucy were a pair of very scared Pit Bull mixes. When Michelle picked up Ricky from Iowa Humane he couldn’t even walk he was so scared. He got settled in at her house and a few days later his sister came to live with them. Fostering them together helped with their rehabilitation and they learned to trust Michelle and grew in confidence and weight. They were with her for about nine months, but when they left they were both healthy and ready to move into their forever homes.

VOTMShe has been working with dogs and cats for over 25 years as a groomer, assistant trainer, and a kennel owner. She also fosters cats and kittens and helps with grooming the foster dogs at Last Hope. Michelle volunteers to work at some of the fundraisers and adoption events also.

She says she enjoys volunteering for Last Hope because she gets to hang out with like-minded animal lovers and to help unite people with their furry friends. She gets to use her gifts and talents in a very satisfying way, connecting people with just the right pet for their family.

VOTM 2Michelle is looking forward to being a part of the Last Hope family as we move into a very exciting time. She says, “We are growing as a rescue group and many positive changes are taking place. We are starting a foster training program that will help all of us become more confident and educated about how to   handle, train, and help rehabilitate our foster four-legged friends. We will also learn how to ensure a successful adoption from start to finish with confidence.”

Thank you, Michelle, for all you do for Last Hope and being excited about the changes we’re making!


julia sig


June Volunteer of the Month

The person chosen as volunteer of the month for June is Sherrie Collins!

Dog5Sherrie has been volunteering for Last Hope since February of this year but she’s kept herself busy. She is a foster parent and she helped at Petco, Petsmart, Tour for Life, Pride Fest, and Pawsome Paws painting faces. Sherrie has also helped with the critter list by determining which dogs or cats need biographies and helped get them updated. She assisted with the follow-ups of the Tour for Life applications to ensure Last Hope had the time to place our dogs in the right homes. She has contacted numerous homes to help them find their new family member. She also attends as many trainings and meetings as possible because she knows these are things that will help her be the most useful and allow her to be the most helpful as both a volunteer and a foster.

Dog3She was recently asked to be a foster lead and has been easing into her new role by co-leading with Lynette (who she considers one of her mentors). Sherrie has been helping with contract completions and home visits. She says even a simple thing like sharing the Last Hope Facebook posts is an easy thing to do that will help us find forever homes for our animals.

Sherrie says she has always loved animals. As a child she would bring home animals that she had found injured and tried to nurse them back to health. She has always had some form of pet including rats, mice, hamsters, ferrets, and a chameleon. Even with her love of animals, she came to Last Hope with little experience with dogs and has learned a lot in a short period of time. She currently has two of her own cats, Luna and Maya, and they have adjusted well to her fosters.

Dog2Dog“I have volunteered at animal shelters before, but being a part of Last Hope has changed my life. I have become part of a group of people who have inspired me and  with whom I am in awe. The dogs I have fostered, picked up, bathed at intake, held at events, etc. have made me a better person and added so much more love to my life! If you, like me, are considering adoption but are not sure of the type of dog that would be the best fit … consider fostering! It is so rewarding to know that I have been part of a dog, that may not have had any love in his/her life, feeling comfort and warmth and finally knowing what it feels like to be loved.”
Sherrie has shared her love of Last Hope with her mother who now drives from Dubuque to help us. She has helped with the Pawsome Paws event as well as Pride Fest.

In such a short time, Sherrie has helped immensely and has become an indispensable part of our team.


 julia sig


Volunteer of the Month for May 2014

LynetteOur volunteer of the month for May is Lynette Eldred. Congratulations, Lynette!

Lynette has been volunteering for Last Hope since October 2012 and has been busy making many contributions. Here is a sampling of what Lynette has accomplished:

  • Post animals to PetFinder
  • Foster dogs (sometimes three at a time)
  • Care for permanent foster dog, Pebbles, who is diabetic and blind
  • Foster lead (support foster homes, answer their questions, help them train their dogs, and make home visits for new fosters)
  • Worked at all the farmers’ market and NewBo market dates in summer of 2013
  • Made hundreds of dog treats for sale at summer markets and holiday markets
  • Helped organize two indoor garage sale fundraisers where over $600 was raised at each event
  • Lead at the Cedar Rapids Pridefest event in 2013
  • One of the organizers for the Super Sundae Puppy Bowl Party in February of 2014 where over $2,000 was raised
  • One of the Facebook administrators and posts items to Facebook
  • Creates online fundraising posts on YouCaring.com; the first being a fundraiser to cover the medical bills for her foster, Fergus, for his eye issues and heartworm treatments
  • Helps with PetPoint entries and contracts when needed

Lynette says she likes volunteering for Last Hope because she likes spending time with other people who are passionate about dogs and rescuing them and she has met and created friendships with people that she never would have met otherwise. They often find other things in common, beyond the love of saving dogs.

Lynettes two dogsShe loves to foster because it is so rewarding to meet a new dog that she knows nothing about and find out who they are. Dogs have different personalities, just like people, and the best thing a foster home can do for them is help them be who they were meant to be. She loves training dogs and teaching them new skills that will help them enjoy themselves and make them a more appealing dog for the right adopter. “When a match is perfect there is nothing more rewarding, even though it is hard to say goodbye.”

Thank you, Lynette, for all you do for Last Hope and the dogs we save. You have contributed a lot and are an inspiration for other volunteers.

julia sig

April Volunteer of the Month


Congratulations to our volunteer of the month, Lori Arbuckle! Lori started volunteering for Last Hope about 4.5 years ago when we got a dog from Picture2down south that was in bad shape. Sonia called Lori and asked her to foster the dog and that was the beginning. She fostered Lottie; who was blind, deaf, had kennel cough, and was 11 years old; for about 2.5 years when they adopted her and let her live out her life in their home until January. They adored her even with her obstacles.

Lori does a lot for Last Hope: fosters animals; helps with events; gets donations of blankets, toys, food, and treats. She also has helped us get several Volunteer Association grants and two event grants. She helps Sonia at the shelter, transports animals to the vet, makes blankets, picks up owner relinquishments, and she’s the critical or hospice foster for those animals that are not adoptable due to their health and reclining years.

When asked why she likes volunteering for Last Hope she said she likes the hands-on with the animals, caring for the sick, saving all the animals we can, and making a difference in animals’ lives.

Picture3She lives in Vinton with her husband, Ben, who she says loves animals, too. They have three rescue dogs of their own plus one cat. They currently are fostering two hospice, one blind, and one puppy mill dog. She enjoys crafts, cooking, reading a good book, and spending time with her husband and animals.

Lori says, “I have learned so much about animal rescue and the animal world from Sonia and she teaches me every day. We have a very similar love for those who have been given up on and those that have been forgotten, and those that have never had a chance from the beginning. I try every day to make a difference in an animal’s life, to give them love, hugs and kisses, hold them when they’re sick and scared, food to eat and water to drink, and a warm place to lay their head and a home to call their own. And when their time comes to cross the rainbow bridge, I will be with them when they take their last breath and they will know they were loved and somebody did care enough.”


Sounds like Lori was a great pick for volunteer of the month!

julia sig