Sunday, June 10 marked a huge first for Izzie’s Pond: we opened our doors to the public for the very first time! The event was a huge success, with more than 300 visitors over a four-hour afternoon block.
Visitors were able to:
- meet the goats in their pasture
- hear about our nonreleasable ambassador raccoon, grey fox, and skunk
- see the nonreleasable raccoons play in their pen
- talk with volunteers about what they do and what it’s like
- purchase animal-themed crafts and books (including some adorable paintings made by our raccoons, ducks, and chickens)
We also had snacks, drinks, and We Got the Beets, Greenville’s first vegan/plant-based food truck available for anyone who got hungry and thirsty in the hot sun!
High time for an Open House
Over the years, many of you have learned of our operation whether you brought an animal to us that needed help, or simply saw one of our posts shared on our Facebook or Instagram accounts. Inviting the public meant that we had to be able to certify with the US Department of Agriculture that our animals are well cared for and that there would be no risk of disease or injury to human visitors.
We obtained the needed license in the nick of time — a growing operation means we need volunteers who can handle growing numbers of rabies-vector species! That means they need pre-exposure rabies vaccines, which insurance only covers post-exposure.
This Open House was for our volunteers to raise money for their vaccines. Whether you bought lemonade, ice cream and/or baked goods from the Girl Scouts, or handmade crafts from our friends at PAWS Animal Wildlife Sanctuary, your purchases made a big dent in the dollar amount needed to help our volunteers out.
If you were there, in fact, you might have wondered why other organizations were raising money. Well, that’s easy — PAWS and Izzie’s Pond work together so seamlessly that we have several “crossover” volunteers! They are likewise in need of pre-exposure rabies vaccines, so it just made sense for them to be there with us.
Girl Scout Troop 1379 SU 636 Juniors, meanwhile, needed a project to put towards the 20 hours of service work required to earn their Bronze Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. 100% of their proceeds from the Open House came to us.
In our volunteers’ words
Volunteering at a working animal rescue can be hard, messy, smelly, and sometimes even heartbreaking work. Our Open House was an opportunity for our volunteers to see our operation through other people’s eyes!
Carrie Pergerson, who was there with her daughter, shared:
It was a really great event and I overheard so many visitors say “this is amazing!”
Christa Miller, another volunteer, added:
I met a couple of people who LOVE raccoons and are very interested to volunteer… and they even live close by! Some thought that we were still in Simpsonville and were happy that we’re more convenient to them. I really enjoyed the surprise and delight on people’s faces when they glimpsed Dory or Kira for the first time.
Of course, work had to continue around the visitors. All the animals had been fed and watered that morning, but the baby raccoons, fawns, and foxes that visitors couldn’t see still needed their food. (Like human babies, they eat more frequently.) Volunteer Casondra Perez Holmes observed:
[My daughter] and I were crazy busy keeping up with the feeding of all the animals and babies, and so many people asked lots of questions as to what we were doing, how often, if the animals were nice…. we even had a few inquiries on how to volunteer! I think it was eye-opening to many that came out.
Continuing the momentum
A lot went into preparing for this open house, and will continue as we keep growing. Keeping our animals comfortable and healthy takes a lot of energy and commitment. Add to that, we want to start work soon on our long-range goals of building an infirmary for sick and injured animals, as well as our kitchen and greenhouse for sustainable living education.
What can you do to help?
- Volunteer at our upcoming Open Volunteer Workday!
- Spread the word about our Open Houses! We’ll be holding them once per quarter, with the next one planned for September.
- Look for us to hold additional fundraising events around the greater Greenville area.
- Purchase additional crafts, or simply make a donation of goods or funds.