As I was getting things together for an upcoming online fundraiser, the lyrics to “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men kept going through my head.

“And I know you’re shining down on me from Heaven; Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way; And I know eventually we’ll be together; One sweet day.”

Our “Howl to Heal Memorial Weekend” will be held from April 23 to 25 on our Facebook page.

This time of year always touches my heart because of the great animal-lovers who share in the memory of those we’ve lost and that their spirits are still helping four-legged friends.

We have the event set up on our Facebook page, and it will include tribute sections to those we are honoring, as well as a donation button. The money raised will go toward our Second Chance Fund, which is money set aside to help animals who come into the shelter requiring special surgeries or vet care.

We honor and memorialize five great people during this weekend – John Hepfer Jr., Stephanie Zeis, Steve Zeis, Jamie Daley and Denny Hartman.

Every time I see the photo of John Hepfer Jr. on the flier for this weekend, I know he is so happy to be helping the animals. This was a guy who would jump into a creek to save an animal – and he did! We have the news story to prove it!

John loved Jack Russell Terriers. The stories he had about his pups were always entertaining and heartfelt. We lost John suddenly in 2011, but he is still very much with us and the mission of CVAS.

Stephanie Zeis is a young girl whose family and spirit are so incredibly strong that she continues to touch a lot of people and animals. She passed away in a car accident in 2008 at a young age. She adopted and cared for animals all her life, and her family has always helped area shelters in her name.

Steve Zeis was also a member of the family who passed away in September of 2015 from COPD. There wasn’t an animal out there Steve wouldn’t help.

The Zeis family is one that I feel an almost unspeakable connection with. It goes beyond my ability to fully explain. I feel a bond with them at this time every year, and whether I actually see them or not, I know we’re connected. These people are thoughtful, loving and have the best hearts. It is an honor to

know them and be even a small part of their lives.

Jamie Daley died suddenly a few Christmases ago and was surrounded by animals her entire life. Her love for animal friends knew no bounds – birds, kittens, dogs, turtles, owls – it didn’t matter. If she could help them, she would.

Her memory will help other animals receive the care they need.

Denny Hartman left us last summer. He fought a hard battle with cancer, and I still feel the loss of him in my life.

Denny volunteered for the shelter for a long time, and he and I had the kind of relationship that was based on mutual respect and a whole lot of jokes and teasing. Denny was a person who just kept going, no matter what life threw at him.

And he just adored his animals. He always wanted to help anyone – two-legged or four-legged – and in fact, he was co-founder of this fundraiser when we first started it.

It’s hard for me to explain what adding him to this tribute does to my heart. I know he would love it and I know he’s up there right now smiling down at me as I type, probably calling me Wenchy-poo (he was Poopyman, so it fits), with a cat in his lap.

All five of these amazing people are continuing to help our four-legged friends even though they are no longer with us.

If you log onto: cvas-pets.org, you will find the link to the Howl to Heal Memorial Weekend Facebook page, where you can pay tribute to these folks and maybe make a donation to help animals in their names.

Losing a loved one is often the toughest agony there is on this earth.

It’s the true and the strong and the resilient who are able to take that loss and help others with it.

That’s what the families of these five folks are doing when they keep going and remembering and honoring their loved ones.

You can do the same by logging on to our Howl to Heal Memorial Weekend Facebook event.

You will be touching a whole lot of spirits if you do so, and you’ll be reminding all of us that we will see each other again.

One sweet day.

*******

Jennifer Vanderau is the Director of Communications for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, and can be reached at: cvascomm@cvas-pets.org. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at: (717) 263-5791, or visit the website: www.cvas-pets.org. CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

 

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