Philanthropy means different things to different people. To Laurie Livingston, a longtime Humane Society of Missouri volunteer, philanthropy means to give back through time, money, conversation or through one's actions.
Laurie holds firm to the belief that by doing just one kind act a day, you can make the world a better place. Luckily for the Humane Society, Laurie felt called to answer an ad in the newspaper 15 years ago seeking volunteers to assist with educational programs. Today, Laurie is intensely focused on humane education, kennel enrichment, and making a difference in the lives of the animals, the staff and fellow volunteers.
Laurie says she volunteers because it gives her tremendous fulfillment.
"I have all I need, and I find great joy in happy endings," she says.
Laurie is very involved and committed to humane education. And she loves the partnership with the St. Louis City schools through the Humane IQ program.
Sometimes a school visit is a student's first exposure to being kind to animals. Often at the beginning of the program, the children shy away because they are fearful of the dog, but then at the end of the program, they are lined up to pet the animal.
"During my time with them, I tell them they can donate a gently used stuffed animal to be a cage buddy or that there is a need for blankets and bedding for the cages," Laurie says. "I think it is important to teach children there is something that you have that someone needs more."
Several years into her tenure as a volunteer, Laurie voiced a concern that would greatly change the daily lives of the dogs in the kennels. Laurie had always thought that the bars had a negative connotation and potentially tainted how potential owners viewed the dogs. She recommended that all the bars be replaced with tempered glass.
Not only did this create an appealing environment, but it also resulted in a healthier environment for the dogs because the glass makes it more difficult for people to have direct contact with the dogs. Some of the glass in the get-acquainted rooms was frosted to give dogs and their potential owners an opportunity to get to know each other in private with as few distractions as possible.
Her idea was funded by a generous gift from the William and Betty Halliday Foundation. The Hallidays were Laurie's parents and longtime supporters of the Humane Society. As a result of careful estate planning, the Halliday Foundation has been able to enrich the lives of the animals at the Humane Society and to pay enduring tribute to the Hallidays' love of animals.
A year ago, Laurie became involved with enrichment for the dogs in the shelter. The enrichment program is mindful that the dogs need to be stimulated and exercised mentally during their time at the Humane Society of Missouri. Enrichment activities attempt to eliminate the barrier frustration, ensure positive kennel behavior and give these dogs a real shot at a second chance.
Positive behavior is reinforced, and each dog receives one-on-one interaction. On a recent day, over the course of the interview, several dogs were guided in and out for their twice-aday walks and Laurie greeted each passerby by name, receiving a happy tail wag in return. Laurie's reaction was one of pure joy and satisfaction.
"I came to make a positive difference in the lives of the animals," Laurie says. "What I didn't anticipate was how my life would be enriched. I have met and worked with so many wonderful people-other volunteers and staff. Some have become my dearest friends. People from different backgrounds and callings, all with different talents, come together to change the lives of our animals in need."
"We all have something to give to make our community better. Large or small, it makes a difference. The feeling of joy I get from helping is immeasurable, and I am very proud to be a small part of the great work that the Humane Society does for the animals."
If you have questions about providing for the Humane Society of Missouri in your estate plans or about other planned gifts, please contact Jessica Arnold, at 314-951-1556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.