MHS Announces Awards for Compassionate Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Volunteer and Employees of the Year

By Laurie Phillips

Monadnock Humane Society’s Annual Meeting focuses on “Fostering a Compassionate Community”
Four individuals are honored with annual awards – Compassionate Citizen, Outstanding Volunteer and two Outstanding Employees

Monadnock Humane Society (MHS) held its annual meeting on Sunday, May 18th in the Jim Guinane Training Center in Swanzey, honoring four individuals in the community and providing the over 75 guests with an inspiring presentation by Melinda Mosier of the NH Charitable Foundation on “Fostering a Compassionate Community. “

The program began with a welcome from MHS executive director, Michelle Thevenin, who spoke of the new MHS mission statement – developed by the Board of Directors and staff over the past year – and how it reflects the new direction of MHS and animal sheltering. The new MHS mission statement is to “Foster a compassionate community by promoting and providing for the well-being of animals.” She said that “Ultimately, we are in the compassion business – we do it through the medium of animals but what we’re all about is modeling compassion here in our community (and the world beyond, perhaps).”

Thevenin then introduced Melinda Mosier of the NH Charitable Foundation who gave an inspiring talk about how compassion makes our community and society a better place. Citing examples from her daughter’s childhood experience with pet adoption here at MHS, she spoke of how she observed her daughter grow up to be a sensitive and loving individual which she directly attributed to some of those experiences. She concluded with an overall summary of the importance of the animal/human relationship and how it helps build compassion in us not only as individuals, but as a community, and how that compassion is integral to a high quality of life.

An awards ceremony followed Mosier’s presentation. These awards were all based on individuals who embodied MHS’s values: Compassion, excellence, trust, serenity, and community. Kathy Reilly, MHS Board Chair, announced the winner of the “Compassionate Citizen of the Year Award,” awarded to Winchester Animal Control Officer Gene Park. This award (the first time presented) was chosen by a committee of staff from many nominations that were submitted from others in the community. Park was described as a man who genuinely cares about not only the animals he helps, but also the people attached to those animals. He is someone who does his job without fanfare and sometimes without appreciation for the complexities and difficulties of his work. Officer Park received a standing ovation and recognition that is long overdue.

Thevenin then presented the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award to Mike Faulkner of Northeast Soils and Sitework in Swanzey. Nominations for this award were submitted from staff and other MHS volunteers and were selected by a panel of staff. “Faulkner is committed to keeping the building and grounds as close to a well-oiled machine, and he devotes his time and resources to MHS and is constantly thinking of ways to improve things and to providing insights for solving problems,” said Thevenin. “Additionally, he helps with transporting dogs from other locations to the Adoption Center on many Saturday mornings.” She added that “Mike’s work with us has been priceless.”

Thevenin then presented two awards to Outstanding Employees. Nominations were submitted by staff and volunteers, and last year’s recipients of the award chose this year’s winners. The first award was presented to Eric Knowles, MHS Shelter Technician, who is described as an employee who is calm and serene in every situation – no matter how difficult. Always helpful, always smiling and keeping a positive attitude, he loves and cares for all animals that come through our doors. He is empathic, thoughtful and respectful to every individual he meets. He is devoted to his work and makes everyone around him enjoy their work. He is seen by his coworkers as “a truly outstanding employee who consistently goes above expectations”.

The second Outstanding Employee of the Year Award was given to Linda Thompson, Boarding and Daycare Manager. Linda works long hours to ensure that the animals and their “parents” feel reassured about entrusting their pets into her care. She takes the responsibility very seriously, but does so with a kind and welcoming way that makes everyone feel special. Staff described her as eager to learn new ways of doing things and always keeping an eye on where things are going. She consistently inspires and encourages her coworkers to do better with her enthusiasm and by providing an excellent model of compassion.

Following the Awards Ceremony, a brief annual meeting was held with the Board of Directors elect new officers — President, Dr. Kathy Reilly; Vice President Joyce Tilton; Treasurer Christopher Bowen; and Secretary Jennifer Shephardson.