Adopt An Angel—45% votes
Wilmingtonians who visit Petco on Saturdays and Sundays know they can expect to find more than tasty treats and toys for their beloved fur babies. Every weekend Adopt an Angel volunteers sit outside (or inside, depending on weather) with animals who need a “fur”ever home. They also have homeless cats in Petco, PetSense and Pet Supermarket seven days a week. Their dedication has garnered them a win for 2017’s Best Nonprofit according to encore’s readers’ poll.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized for the good work we do and our love of animals,” says Adopt an Angel cofounder Jill Jones (voted Best Volunteer 2010). “We completely did not expect to win at all. It’s a great boost to our morale.”
Jones estimates they’ve rescued about 1,000 animals a year since starting in 2004. Last year alone more than 1,200 cats and dogs found permanent homes. But for every happy ending, a hard and long story is behind it. Thus, they couldn’t save as many animals without volunteers and donors.
“All our dogs and cats stay in foster homes or in boarding facilities who donate us space,” Jones explains. “Getting and keeping volunteers is our biggest challenge. We have a very active core group of about 15 people, but it would be easier if we had more help.”
While Jones and company want to save all animals in need, they still have to make hard choices regarding how many and who to save because vast numbers of homeless animals exist. Raising awareness for their cause remains top priority to help strengthen their service, in order to engage more people on adopting, as well as spaying and neutering pets. “We hope more people will choose to volunteer with us, too,” Jones adds “Donate to our cause or adopt more of our animals so we can save even more homeless animals.”
Donations help fuel transport vans, pay animal control adoption fees, provide vet care, surgeries, vaccinations, food, and other supplies. Potential volunteers can inquire at www.adoptanangel.net or e-mail Sara.A.Sipes@gmail.com.
Runners up in the 2017 poll for Best Nonprofit are The Carousel Center (36%) and Junior League of Wilmington (19%). —Shannon Gentry
Cape Fear River Watch—49% votes
Cape Fear River Watch has been in the Wilmington community for more than 20 years and they’re continuously recognized on our Readers’ Poll for their efforts in protecting drinking water, including 2017’s Best Environmental Group.
“This win means another year of support from our community,” says Jen Cole, communications and membership coordinator for Cape Fear River Watch. “It means the world to us!”
Recent years have been big for monitoring and challenging heavy industry and CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Farming Operations) along the Cape Fear River. One of the most notable local victories was when Titan Cement left town last year. In celebration, CFRW Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette paddled all 200 miles of the Cape Fear River.
Being a part of the Wilmington community and protecting its water supply, fisheries and economy of the Cape Fear also includes highlighting the fun and beauty of the river. Between programs like their CreekKeeper stream monitoring program and annual events like Lakefest and Striperfest, CFRW engages and educates thousands each year. They also work with young citizen advocates. Cape Fear River Watch’s Summer Camp program is entering it seventh year and they’re always seeking help to provide scholarships to less-privileged children. A tax-deductible contribution of $25 provides healthy snacks for one camper for a full week; $75 provides a half tuition and snacks; and $150 provides a full scholarship for a camper, including snacks.
“Get involved with CFRW by visiting our website at CapeFearRiverWatch.org,” Cole adds, “signing up for our newsletters and attending one of our First Saturday Seminars, Second Saturday Cleanups or Third Saturday Paddles.”
If anyone has questions or need to report water-quality emergencies, such as pollution spills, trash being dumped or leaks near the Cape Fear River, call CFRW at 910-762-5606.
Runners up in the 2017 poll for Best Environmental Group are Surfrider Foundation (35%) and NC Coastal Federation (16%). —Shannon Gentry
Alexandra Leviner—42% votes
Alexandra “Alex” Leviner is taking home her third award for Best Local Humanitarian this year. For years, not only has she spent much of her free time immersed in the nonprofit world but up until January 2016, all of her full-time jobs were also in the nonprofit industry. From volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and teaching classes at the Cape Fear Museum, to working for the likes of Nourish NC and Junior League of Wilmington.
“Now that my career has shifted and I no longer work in that sector, the biggest challenge I face is staying in tune to what are the greatest obstacles facing our community, local nonprofits and what I contribute to,” she explains. “Wilmington is such a thriving community full of people that want to make a difference that it is easy to be inspired by the people you live, work and play with and when you can find inspiration in the small things you are bound to do great things.”
After losing a loved one in late 2015 and moving into the international freight forwarding and logistics field in 2016, Leviner explains she began channeling her stress back into what she loved: helping her community.
“I began volunteering on the weekends,” she tells of the many committees she chairs still to date, including Junior League of Wilmington and Communities in Schools. “Being able to be a part of something that I knew was helping my community—while gradually building friendships with people by volunteering alongside them—helped me through it.”
Leviner encourages folks to get involved in any number of countless volunteer opportunities throughout New Hanover County. There is something for every schedule, interest or age, people need only to look. There shouldn’t be an obligation to jump right into a long-term volunteership or time-consuming committee at first, either. Leviner advises to set a goals for to serve “done-in-a-day” volunteer shifts a month at various organizations around the community.
“I promise you, no organization will turn you down,” she adds. “Once you identify the organization you want to volunteer for, simply call them and they will walk you through the process.”
Also ranking as Best Local Humanitarian on encore’s 2017 Best Of poll are Bo Dean (40%) and Jock Brandis (18%). —Shannon Gentry