AWA names new director

Friday, September 8, 2023

Longtime Animal Welfare Alliance member Coretta Bishop is stepping up to direct the AWA No-Kill Shelter in Poplar Bluff. Her new position was finalized during an AWA board meeting Thursday night, as was her salary: $0.

Bishop decided to take the position as a volunteer so the shelter, which is a nonprofit, can put that money back into its operating costs.

“I care about the cause, I care about the animals... We can take that salary and use it to adequately staff the shelter and make sure they have everything they need,” she said.

These services include sterilizations and vaccinations, medical treatment, microchipping and community programs.

The shelter’s prior director, Jessica West, departed earlier this summer.

The job is more than 40 hours per week, according to AWA President Marge VanPraag. Bishop previously helped the organization manage the steep learning curve of operating a shelter.

“We’re just trying to learn as we go, basically. We started from the ground up almost two years ago, so it’s hard to start something when we didn’t have really directions to go by, nothing to start from,” VanPraag said. “And Coretta has really helped us get organized. She’s very good at organizing and I think we have a very good process going now, as far as paperwork and how we how we operate the shelter.”

Kennel manager Brandon Heaton also had good things to say about Bishop.

“She’s doing really good and she’s put a lot of effort into keeping the shelter thriving... She does all the work upfront, all the adoptions, and makes sure we have meds. She’s picked up the reigns and is headed in a good direction,” he said.

There are many ways the community can continue supporting the AWA, which serves five counties.

“We can always use money, of course, donations — all kinds and not just cash,” explained VanPraag.

Any pet items in good condition can be brought to the shelter, as can food for the animals or the pet food bank, which helps pet owners struggling to make ends meet. Bishop and VanPraag said the food bank is currently out of cat food, and small bags are preferable.

Other shelter needs can be found on the AWA Facebook page and website, which also includes applications for spay and neuter vouchers, adoption applications and volunteer forms. There are also resources to help people looking to place animals in new homes at times when the shelter is at capacity, as it is currently.

The shelter recently reached a full staff, Bishop was happy to note, but volunteers are always needed. VanPraag said willing members of the community can fill multiple roles, from “reading to the animals all the way up to cleaning, computer work, or walking (dogs) or transport.”

The AWA will be present at several upcoming events and fundraisers, including:

• Sept. 21 — Women Aware conference.

• Sept. 23 — Charity yard sale at Key Drugs in Poplar Bluff.

• Sept. 30 — Puppy Parade at the Butler County Fair. The event will be held in the Black River Coliseum and all proceeds benefit the shelter.

• Nov. 4 — Annual Howling at the Moon banquet. People and businesses interested in joining the roster of sponsors can contact the AWA at 573-840-0664 or Bishop at 573-300-6450.

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