Alice Lloyd College junior Tawny Aguayo along with ALC’s First Lady, Mrs. Cindy Stepp, have poured their heart and soul into helping those that are unable to help themselves. Although they’re the ones that are putting in the countless hours of ruthless work, they say that they’re gaining more than they could have ever imagined.
What started as volunteer work at an animal shelter in Hazard, Kentucky has turned into much more than just volunteer work; it has transformed into a passion. Ms. Aguayo and Mrs. Stepp work hard each week to ensure that the animals in the shelter are not only well taken care of, but protected from euthanization. It was not too long ago that these two fabulous women organized a shelter clean-up welcoming all ALC students to participate. Ms. Aguayo excitedly stated that the group “cleaned the place from top to bottom” when asked how the clean-up went.
This past summer, Tawny and Cindy worked to coordinate a road block where they raised over $2,000 for the shelter. They also frequently organize adoption drives for the fuzzy critters. The most recent adoption drive, titled “Pet Pictures with Santa” took place on November 9th. This drive not only helped to highlight the shelter animals in order to get them adopted, but also raised money for the shelter. Another drive very similar to this will be taking place on December 7th at the Hazard Tractor Supply. Mrs. Stepp also recently organized a team for the Run for the Hills 5K which took place on October 5th in order to further benefit the shelter.
The two also go out of their way to publicize the shelter and the animals inside it. Each week Tawny writes a new article about the shelter to be published in local newspaper Troublesome Creek Times. Her most recent article featured Pit Bull Awareness Month and the benefits of autistic children over the age of five years owning a pet. In addition to this, Tawny interviews with WYMT every other Wednesday morning to showcase a pet at the shelter and inform viewers of current events taking place to benefit the shelter. Furthermore, Tawny and Cindy collaborated to form a Facebook pages to aide in their mission. One page, called “Lost and Found Pets of Knott County” works to help lost pets find their way home without ever visiting the animal shelter. This not only keeps the rate of lost animals down, but also keeps the shelter from becoming overcrowding. Another page, “Foster a KY Dog” coincides with the other page in keeping the shelter from overcrowding. This page advertises the shelter’s Foster Program, which protects more animals from euthanization and lets dogs that have been confirmed for rescue visit a foster’s home for two weeks while they are waiting to be taken to their loving new home. Tawny also started a YouTube channel (listed below) that helps to showcase pets to potential adopters and rescuers. Tawny and Ms. Stepp also transport pets each week to various places including Indianapolis, New York, and Minnesota as a part of “legs” in order to get the animals to rescue groups that will help in finding them a home.
Tawny and Cindy’s shared passion has only affected those around them in a positive manner, and the two have even inspired many other groups and students at ALC to take part in their mission to help the animals to live a better life. The following students, faculty members, and groups have taken part in volunteering at the animal shelter: Kyli Breeding, Destiny Caldwell, Tiffany and Dan Combs, Carissa Conley, Aaron Elliott, Maricka Gibson, Lindsey Gilbert, Brittney Huz, Ryan Irons, Mary Isaac, Mercedes Kohn, Elizabeth Langlois, Genny Ly, Haley Lyall, Kaelyn Martin, Hannah Radosevich, Amber Reynolds, Jesse Riffe, Clint Stepp, Brandon Sumner, Adele Williams, Amanda Whitman, the ALC Dance Team, the ALC Softball Team, the ALC Impact Club, the ALC Maintenance Work Study Crew, and the ALC Radio Station Work Study Crew.
Tawny says, “I truly believe that we have much to learn from the animals at the shelter. It never fails to amaze me that despite being neglected, abused, and discarded like trash, they are still so full of compassion and love to give. They have taught me to never stop loving, no matter what happens. Imagine how wonderful the world could be if we could all be more like that.” Tawny also mentioned that she hopes to eventually turn her focus to the health benefits of having pets and the good that can come from families or individuals that have autism or are suffering from PTSD having pets. Tawny looks to graduate with a Biology degree from ALC and put her education towards benefiting even more animals in her future. We look forward to seeing what more Tawny and Cindy can accomplish and hope that their success inspires others to do the same.