A Year-End Message from Our Director


So here we are at the end of another strange, long year. As 2021 comes to a close, I wanted to take a few moments to focus on some of the amazing things that you helped make possible at Young at Heart. The difference you make by believing in our mission to provide senior pets with a safe haven is immeasurable, and your support ensures older dogs and cats live with comfort, compassion, and companionship in their golden years.

Throughout the year, the kindness of old friends and new friends who hold our mission close to their hearts gave us the strength and the ability to care for all of the senior dogs and cats here who need us, even on the hardest of days. We celebrated our second year in "Smokey's Haven", our cage-free adoption center in Woodstock, IL. By summer, we were operating at full (and sometimes over) capacity with over 50 senior pets with a variety of needs under our roof. We were able to welcome visitors once again, though masked and by appointment.

We managed to have some fun and had no problem staying busy! We created a Pop-Up Catio Cafe experience where guests enjoyed a leisurely hour with our kitties on the enclosed Catios, complete with a chilled coffee or soda. We began our capital campaign to open an in-house veterinary clinic right here at Young at Heart to help us save more lives, which is on target to be fully equipped and staffed by late Spring 2022! Our Mutt Mosey fundraiser walk looked a little different as we adapted it to the times, with groups of four enjoying a customized outdoor experience with our senior dogs. We had more specialty surgical cases than ever before in our 16-year history, with multiple dogs benefiting from knee and hip surgeries that would bring them relief from chronic pain and provide comfort for years to come. And, we had the honor of caring for a LOT of really amazing senior dogs and cats to keep us on our toes!

No matter the noise and chaos of the outside world, animals and volunteers alike spent each day here in a world of calm, comfort, and love. The dogs and cats enjoyed playtime, trail walks, movies in the family room, agility and clicker training, long naps in the sun, lots of yummy treats, and all the love they could handle. We shared in the joy of each senior pet adopted into a loving family and welcomed each newly rescued senior pet that came to us in need of a second chance. And while 2021 may have tied 2020 as the longest year in history, here we are once again with a brand New Year awaiting us. And with the New Year comes hope.

I hope that 2022 brings us all a kinder, gentler year. I hope it brings calm, comfort, and love to the world outside our walls. I hope we can further enrich the lives of the senior pets that need us, find more loving homes for the senior pets that wait for them, and welcome more friends of senior pets through our front door.

Thank you for being here for Young at Heart and for caring about senior pets in need. It makes a big difference to all of us here, both two-legged and four-legged.

Wishing you the happiest New Year!

With love and gratitude,

Dawn Kemper, Founder and Executive Director, Young at Heart

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