ARF Honors Teen Volunteers Tonight

A pizza party will be held at 5 Guys Flippin Pies on Wolcott Rd from 5:30 – 7 pm tonight to honor Erin Ward and Brianna Smail for their dedication to the Animal Rescue Foundation.

Imagine that you’re in charge of raising $500,000 for a local charity. Not just any charity, but one that helps save dogs and cats from being destroyed. Imagine that this charity directly helped you for years and because of a fire this help has stopped. That’s what happened to me in November 2008 when a fire destroyed the Animal Rescue Foundation in Terryville, CT. As Chairman of Fundraising and as an Animal Control Officer I needed help desperately.

Anyone that knows me knows that I will not work with anyone with a negative attitude with it comes to fundraising. It’s too easy to give up and agree that the goal is too far out of reach and can’t be done. I had to surround myself with upbeat positive people to help achieve this outrageous goal. Brianna Smail was ARF’s very first volunteer to step up and help. I never heard the words “no” or “I can’t” from Bri or her mother Marylou. They became my first call when I needed help and Brianna became ARF’s “Good Luck Charm”. She was our first crown and became an adopted daughter to us all.

I had no idea who Erin Ward was when she first picked ARF as her platform in 2010 as Miss Wolcott’s Outstanding Teen. She became my good friend and my constant source of positive energy as we pushed ARF right over the finish line; raising a large sum of money in the two year window that we had to meet. We thank God every day that Erin and the Ward Family joined the ARF team. Without the volunteers that helped us organize literally a hundred events and made so many appearances on the radio, television, and any place that would listen to our plea, ARF would only be a memory.

I am a positive person by nature but at times the road to re-opening has been very demanding and hard on me. From all the negativity from people who didn’t understand to the fact that any chance of a social life had to be put on hold until we were done took a great toll on me as well as all of us on the team. I truly believe that if Brianna and Erin weren’t there we would have failed. Their constant source of encouragement and help made us want to do more and know we could succeed, and we did. I will never forget how much Wolcott has helped.

As ARF gets ready to cut its ribbon and re-open Brianna and Erin deserved to be recognized. So please join ARF, State Representative Rob Sampson, Mayor Thomas Dunn, and Mayor Michael Jarjura in recognizing these two young ladies who sacrificed so much for a cause very dear to them and so many of us who love animals too much to have them suffer.

On Wednesday, August 24, 2011 from 5:30-7pm there will be a pizza party and award ceremony to recognize Brianna and Erin at Five Guys Flippin’ Pies. There will be a D.J. and a couple of “Goliath Pizzas” as well as several specialty pizzas that the restaurant is preparing for us. Brianna has now joined Erin as an Honorary Lifetime Member. In 40 years we only have ten. It’s a special award given to very special volunteers who went above and beyond. I don’t even have a lifetime membership!

Brianna’s and Erin’s real reward will be to know that they made the difference in ARF re-opening. We could not have done it without them and their families and you, the Town of Wolcott. I personally could not be more proud of what we accomplished and I will always forever have a special spot in my heart for them. Please join us one last time to say Thank You. After then let’s cut that ribbon and start saving some dogs and cats!! We have a lot of rescue work to finally do.


Joe Ouimet
ARF’s Chairman of Fundraising &
Shelter Manager


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