Seniors give back to animal shelter

KENAI — A black Labrador retriever pads around the halls of Heritage Place in Soldotna, entertaining the residents with a wagging tail and big brown eyes. Residents reach down from their wheelchairs and walkers to pet her head fondly, and two parakeets squawk from a cage in the hallway.

When the opportunity arose to make gifts to donate to the Soldotna Animal Shelter, many of the seniors jumped in, hand-stitching blankets and toys stuffed with catnip.

“We knew that the animal shelter needed help, but we already have dogs, so we couldn’t take in any more,” said Audrey Wahback, the activities coordinator at Heritage Place. “So we started thinking of what else we can do.”

Since taking the position in September, Wahback said she has been building a relationship with the animal shelter. She said to her knowledge the residents have not had an ongoing project related to helping animals.

“These residents have always been a part of their communities,” Wahback said. “They’re here now, but they continue to reach out. It continues that sense of purpose.”

With donated fabric, the seniors began to construct small pads for the bottoms of kennels, toys filled with catnip and home-baked biscuits for the dogs. Some were better at sewing and cutting, but many of the residents helped in small ways, even by helping pick out fabrics, Wahback said.

Fern Elam, the oldest living resident in Heritage Place at 105, said she began sewing when her mother taught her to sew doll clothes as a child. She said it is fairly simple but can be fun as well as useful.

“The animals need shelter and warmth, and these will help keep them warm,” Elam said.

The residents gathered in a central area of the nursing home to present the basket to Amanda Alaniz, the animal control assistant for Soldotna.

Alaniz gave a short presentation about what the animal control department does and thanked the residents for their gift.

“These are perfect,” she said, holding up one of the blankets. “They fit really well in the kennels, and they’re not too puffy.”

Wahback said volunteering can help residents stay mentally sharp and relieve stress, which can build up in a confined environment.

“It reduces the risk of health problems and improves longevity,” Wahback said. “And it also helps them stay connected to the community. The residents are really close members of their communities, and this helps them still do that.”

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Campaign buttons urging Alaskans to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska sit on a picnic table at the home of Phil Izon, a backer of the initiative, in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 14. Arguments are scheduled May 28 in a lawsuit challenging the state Division of Election’s decision to certify the initiative for placement on the ballot this year. (Mark Thiessen / AP)
Ranked-choice voting has challenged the status quo. Its popularity will be tested in November

Arguments scheduled Tuesday in Alaska lawsuit involving ballot initiative repealing RCV.

A sperm whale is seen in an undated photo published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA photo)
Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges after ordering crew to shoot whale

A Southeast Alaska troll fisherman has agreed to plead guilty to a… Continue reading

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Most Read