Laura Pople, PhD
Executive Director, Founder
Sr. Editor, Cengage Learning
In mid-2008, the news stories about foreclosure pets became a regular occurrence. The grief and trauma that the families were experiencing, compounded by the difficult decisions they had to make about their beloved animal companions was painful to read. It seemed to me that something could be done to help alleviate some of that pain. And that perhaps if I put together the right group of people, we could actually effect change for the good with a program that allowed for a temporary surrender of their animals. Nothing like this seemed to be out there, and in fact, I still haven't found a dedicated program of this sort. There was a definite problem to solve, and this seemed like a potential solution.
I have been rescuing pets, for myself and for others, all my life. After Hurricane Katrina, when I was stationed as a disaster relief worker in a shelter in Deep East Texas, I saw first-hand the devastation in people’s lives when forced to leave their animals behind during a crisis. What a difference it made when I was able to facilitate the opening of an animal shelter for the animals making the journey from the Gulf Coast with their owners as Hurricane Rita approached.
I currently have six cats and one dog. They are all rescues. Two of the cats, Lewis and Clark, are tawny tabby brothers. One cat, PalmPilot, was found as a tiny kitten during Hurricane Floyd. The senior members of the household are Isis and Mischief. And Echo, my miracle boy, is a blind, seizure disorder cat who is now 10. Representing the dog species (although more cat-like than not most of the time) is my American Eskimo, Hamlet. I an now also sharing my home with several animal who came to me through Seer Farms; two cats Sacha and Wolfgang, who lost their mom from complications following the surgery that placed them in Seer Farms care, and Cali, an English Setter mix, who arrived at Seer Farms as an underground railroad stop from a kill shelter in the deep south. Over the years I have had the privilege of also sharing my life with Cody, Anushka, Bunnyfur, Stonewall, Loki, Xanthe, Drood, Pilot, Zephyr, Iansa, Matata, Suki, Wookie, Lazarus, and other four-legged companions.
My previous non-profit experience includes my role as a Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteer. In addition, I was one of the founders of Jersey Pride - the all volunteer non-profit organization that runs the statewide annual GLBTI pride celebration and have been its president since its inception. We are now in our 18th year. I am also president of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition and its Personal Liberty Fund, an umbrella organization that provides education and advocacy around GLBTI issues. NJLGC was instrumental in the passage of an amended law against discrimination and domestic partnership legislation.
My goal is for people who come to Seer Farms to place their animals in temporary custody with us to find a welcoming environment when they come. I want our facility to place the highest emphasis on easing the transition for the families and their animals during the surrender process. Seer Farms will be a destination for volunteers, for potential adopters of animals that we ultimately need to place, and for those families who must temporarily surrender their animals for whatever reason.
President, Board of Directors
As someone with a special interest in the intersection of intimate partner abuse and animal abuse, I began my work as the domestic violence advocate at Seer Farms. I was trained by Womanspace in Mercer County where I am a member of their Domestic Violence Victim Response Team (DVVRT) and their Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). I also am a member of the Womanspace Community Advisory Board. In addition to providing support to survivors of violence, I also write grants for Seer Farms, a skill I have acquired during my career at Mathematica Policy Research. I was a member of the Board of Directors at Mathematica from 2006-2009. As a co-founder of Underground Pottery, a pottery studio in Hightstown, New Jersey, I use pottery sales and lessons to raise money for and awareness of Seer Farms.
I am a third generation trigeminal neuralgia patient and provide telephone support to other patients and caregivers through the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association. Trigeminal Neuralgia is a disorder of the fifth cranial (trigeminal) nerve that causes pain in areas of the face. I value the palliative role that my gray kitties Gracie and Granite, and my puppy, Bessie, (all rescues) play in my life.
My goals are (1) to have four-legged residents at Seer Farms feel as special and pampered as the four-legged companions in my own home, and (2) to have no one stay in an unsafe situation or abandon their pets because they do not know where to keep them safe and sound during troubled times.
Susan Addelston, director
Susan Addelston is a retired NYC Social Studies teacher. Now an active member of many local and national animal welfare organizations, member, she is on the Volunteer Auxiliary for Animal Shelters in Jackson and an ex-officio member Animal Welfare Committee (Jackson). She currently resides in Westlake senior community in Jackson.
Karen Holmes, director
Karen Holmes is a small animal veterinarian practicing in Massachusetts. Her professional interests include working with birds, dogs, cats and smaller mammals. Karen enjoys practicing all aspects of veterinary medicine, but particularly likes working with families to better understand the nature and needs of the animals they've chosen as companions. She finds it especially gratifying to work with some of the larger parrots who may be part of a family over two or more generations and help those involved develop and practice a natural approach to life with an avian companion.
Working with animals and their humans has given her the chance to be of service in a completely new way that is challenging and rewarding. Volunteering her time and skills for rescues, shelters and other animal oriented non-profit organizations helps Karen keep in touch with the resilience and wonder of animals.
When she isn't practicing veterinary medicine, Karen likes to kayak, read and play with the animals living in her home.
Being a part of Seer Farm is both a labor of love and partial payment for a debt of gratitude for the good work they do in general and for one very large, loving dog in particular.
Linda Phillips, director
Animals have been a part of my life since my young days as a child growing up with my dog, Chico, and our cat, Mittens, who came into our home from the streets. As an adult I can remember the first home I had where I could adopt a pet, my first dog, Sadie. She was a rescue, as all my dogs have been. My dogs are part of my family. If I found myself in difficult circumstances where I could not take care of my animal family for a period of time, I would be heart-broken and worried about what would happen to them. That is why the idea of establishing a home for temporarily displaced animals, until a time when their families can come back to take them home, made me smile and say yes, I want to be a part of that. Helping people and helping animals, a perfect combination.
I have been active in many community projects for much of my life. I believe in giving back to my community, whether as an organizer supporting gay/lesbian rights, both statewide and in my home town of Asbury Park; as a labor activist and active board member on local political organizations in the Middlesex county area; or working to beautify and unite the community I love as an active board member of the Garden of Joy, a community garden project in Asbury Park, NJ.
In the course of my activities, I have been an event organizer, treasurer, secretary, board member and newsletter editor. I work as a computer support person at Rutgers University. As a part of that job, I provide web design and maintenance services, as well as general help desk support. As a volunteer I also provide web site design and maintenance assistance to several non-profit projects, including Seer Farms, Inc. I am happy to provide this support and to be making a difference for people and the animals they love.
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the original founding members of the Seer Farms board of directors, who believed in the mission of Seer Farms and got the project underway.
More information available here.