Utility employees give time off the clock: Community volunteers help animal shelter and other agencies

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - The nine people who volunteered at the Animal Control Bureau have, between them, 172 years' experience at Duke Energy.

They have helped a lot of people and solved a lot of problems over the years, they say. But they said helping the dogs, cats, rabbits and other critters at the west Charlotte animal shelter was a real labor of love. "Husbands often tell the wives who volunteer out here not to bring any animals home with them," says Roni Lamb, a seven-year Duke Energy employee who coordinates the company's volunteer efforts at the animal shelter. "But we have a saying: 'Get rid of the husband and bring home the animal,' " adds Lamb, a Pineville resident who owns 10 dogs and two cats, most of which she has adopted through her work at the shelter.

"We're animal-lovers - pure and simple," adds Kathy Moraleda, an east Charlotte resident with 34 years at Duke. "I think every one of us here enjoys being with animals," says Linda Gribble, a University City-area resident with 10 years' experience at Duke.

"It's a labor of love." The volunteers who spent a day at the shelter are part of Duke Energy's 10th annual Global Service Event, in which employees and retirees from across the company's five-state area participate in hands-on volunteer projects in April and May.

Duke Energy upports the 400-plus projects with a series of grants, including a $2,000 award to the Animal Control Bureau.

"We'll use that money for more cat kennels in the front of our building," says Linda Hagemann, volunteer coordinator for the bureau. "That will give us room to care for 24 more cats." The Animal Control Bureau volunteers seemed to be receiving as much joy as they gave. "This place is invisible to a lot of people," says Betsy Humphries, a Huntersville resident with 27 years at Duke. "We're getting a chance to be out here and help. And the animals let us know that our presence is appreciated." Adds Gribble, "Sometimes, it's just a matter of playing with the animals. They need a chance to get out and exercise, and to interact with people." During their day, the volunteers cleaned kennels, fed and exercised animals, and assisted with a number of other projects.

Several in the group spend additional time during the year helping with Animal Control Bureau projects. Debra Johnston, who lives in northwest Charlotte and has been at Duke Energy for 28 years, says the shelter's animals seem to enjoy whatever attention they receive. "They're looking for friends, for someone to play with," she says. "We're able to do that while we're out here working. More people need to enjoy that."



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