OKEECHOBEE — Trail of Hope Animal Rescue (TOH) is planning a memorial service for two beloved volunteers.
Kathleen “Kathie” Papasso and Diane Thrift will always have a special place in the hearts of everyone at Trail of Hope.
Kathie was known as the puppy whisperer to almost everyone who knew her. There wasn’t a dog she didn’t love, and they knew it and loved her back. “You have to talk to animals a little different than you would a human, and she knew just how to do that,” said Judy Throop, a local photographer who spends a lot of time at TOH. Kathie was a regular volunteer at TOH and will be greatly missed.
Diane was unable to volunteer her time in recent years due to poor health, but she never failed to stop by with one contribution or another every week. She seemed to know what the shelter might need and just showed up with it at the right time — bleach, paper towels, dog food, money, whatever she thought would be useful that week. Her death left a great hole at TOH.
To honor the two women who were so vital to TOH, Director Samantha Anne Johnson, volunteers Debbie Shofner, Adam Glidden, Tessa VanHouten, Rosetta Turpin and Judy Throop are working on creating a special meet and greet area on the property. The purpose of the area will be for prospective new pet owners to spend some time with the dogs they are thinking of adopting. They will even be able to bring pets they already have with them. The area will be fenced and will have two memorial benches installed for guests to sit on. Each bench will be in memory of one of the women.
One special feature will be the paving stones on the ground in the area. Johnson is asking members of the public to buy a paving stone of any shape or size and paint some type of message, a picture or a memorial for a pet they have lost on it. They will be placed in the area near the benches so everyone can enjoy them. She asked that stones be dropped off by Jan. 20 if possible but they will take them any time and fit them in. The memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 11 a.m. The benches were handmade by Steve Gilliland.
As Okeechobee’s only no-kill animal shelter, TOH receives no funds from state, county or city sources. They are run completely by donations and adoption fees.
TOH has always needed volunteers, but since covid, they are in dire need of people to come in and walk the dogs, feed the dogs, wash bedding and all sorts of other things. If you enjoy spending time with animals, they ask you to please consider volunteering for an hour, a day, a week or even better, regularly. They will take whatever time you can give. “Someone needs to sit and love on all those puppies,” said Throop. If interested in volunteering your time or donating money or food, please call 863-357-1104 or come out to the shelter 1201 U.S. 98 North.
TOH shared a wish list of things they need: