Password to a new decade is: Volunteers.

Edgewood became incorporated in 1999. But before it became the booming metropolis it is now, it was supported by volunteers.

The library was all-volunteer before the town of Edgewood took over officially. The first director was Anne Dacey-Lucas, who had a master’s in library science; she brought the Edgewood Community library up to state status. Volunteers donated money for rent, built bookshelves, gave reference books, fiction and non-fiction books. They also attended workshops on how to catalog, check out books and raise money.

We had a summer reading program for kids 3 to 14 that ran 15 years. I know this because I ran it. I got to dress up in a costume and tell stories, what’s not to love? The program was free, and it even came with snacks and lunch. The lunch was thanks to Moriarty schools, who even delivered.

This whole valley is littered with people who donate time. Boy and Girl Scouts, Honor Society in high schools, Rotary Clubs, and Lions Clubs participate in a multitude of charitable events. So, how do we face the next decade? With the same spirit we have had the decade before this one. “Volunteers Are Go!”

I phoned the Edgewood Animal Control and spoke with the coordinator of volunteers, Molly De Francesco. She has been with the group for three years and stated they have at least eight volunteers. Some work with just dogs or just cats. Molly does dogs, cats, and administration work for the shelter. They are all proud of the fact that this facility has a less than 1% euthanasia rate. The stats for last year were 199 dogs and 130 cats received at the shelter. Reclaimed animals were 87 dogs and 5 cats. They are also honored to have received a grant to hold a free spay and neuter clinic.

The volunteers include medical staff from the new clinic, First Choice across the street. Medical folks give up their lunch hour to walk and give a little love to dogs. Ellie is a faithful dog walker. One gentleman, Dick, brings hot dogs for treats. According to Molly they all pick a job they are comfortable with, “each to their own ability.” Molly has five rescue dogs. When I mentioned that we had recently gotten a rescue cat to go with our other two, and two dogs, she just laughed. We spoke of having to keep cats and small dogs inside to avoid Coyote McNuggets; Molly understood. Having moved from Houston, Texas with her husband, Greg, a retired police officer of 30 years, they know coyotes.

Debbie Stack is the longest working volunteer. She has been there for more than six years. To quote Mike Ring, “Debbie is a multitasker who especially loves cats.” She is our own “Vanna White.” Debbie displays potential adoptable animals looking for a forever home. These are very special people. You might say they wear halos, and if they are a little tarnished, it is because they spend their time taking care of the little fuzzy folks that make our lives so bearable. We domesticated the dog from wolves and to know cats, according to Kipling, is “To know the thrill of touching the tiger.”

I have the thrill of my cats as evidenced on my arms torn up in loving care. If they tell me they love me much more, I’ll bleed to death. I remember reading about people and dogs. Dogs are always glad to see you at the end of the day. Dogs sit next to you when you are sick and never wear a mask. Dogs lower your blood pressure when you pet them, and you don’t have to take a pill for it. Thank God for the animal shelter volunteers.

Giving full credit to the volunteers, we can not forget the officers that fulfill their sworn duties to keep citizens and pets safe. Officers Mike Ring and Ryan Hagerty work tirelessly to care for our furry population, to include not only the tagged population, but the scaly ones as well. Last spring when we had a rodent problem, the shelter happened upon a bull snake that announced, “I want to live at the White house.” So, without further conversation, they brought it up our way and released it. Oddly enough, the mice and rats took off. It was an HOA issue. Roaring Mouse not thrilled with snakes. Out.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.