Yishi Liang, Editor-in-Chief
Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS) was recently able to hire its first paid employee since it was founded in 2004 thanks to an endowment from late Grinnell College alumnus Jonathan Jenkins ’70.
PALS was formed several decades after Jenkins’s time at Grinnell, but according to PALS Marketing Volunteer Tom Rempp, Jenkins was a longtime PALS and animal supporter.
Jenkins was a resident of Andover, Mass. up until the time of his death on Oct. 11, 2013. He was a regular volunteer to shelters in the area. He majored in French at Grinnell and later worked at the United States Postal Service.
“He came back to Grinnell for a class reunion,” Rempp said. “And he discovered that PALS existed. He was a big supporter of animal shelters in his area so he started giving PALS money every year … But I’m not even sure anyone [currently] there had met him.”
Despite not having personally met Jenkins, PALS personnel are deeply grateful for his generous donation. According to a PALS press release, the donation was enough for the organization to pay off the mortgage on their property, and PALS was able to promote longtime volunteer Dianna Townsend to a paid position.
Townsend will now be working as Shelter Operations Director, the first paid position at PALS – all other positions have been filled by volunteers.
“It’s work that’s been done by volunteers. It’s work that’s always been done,” Rempp said of Townsend’s new position.
In the past, PALS has relied solely on volunteers for all administrative work and animal care. Rempp estimates PALS has 20 to 30 local volunteers and roughly the same number of student volunteers. However, during the summer when students are not at Grinnell, operating PALS is especially difficult. The additional work often falls onto local volunteers, such as PALS Board President Gordon Bosse.
“This summer, when the students were gone, we had a lot of work to do that would fall on the other volunteers. [Bosse] actually took vacation this summer so he could work at the shelter,” Rempp said.
Bosse also works as PALS’s information technology personnel and photographer. Townsend accredits its sustainability largely to committed volunteers like Bosse and Rempp.
“While this endowment is exciting, being the first of such gift PALS has received, it is the day to day support from Grinnell and Poweshiek County that is vital to sustain our ongoing operations,” Townsend said in a press release.