Message from the Chair by Viive Tamm - 2016 Annual General Meeting
2016 Annual General Meeting – Message from the Chair, Viive Tamm
Golden Rescue would like to share the opening remarks from the Chair delivered at the 2016 Annual General Meeting held on June 23rd in Toronto which outline our accomplishments over the past year. We invite you to share in the celebration of our successes and thank you for your support.
Good evening and welcome to Golden Rescue’s 2016 Annual General Meeting. I am so pleased that you could join us on this occasion where we reflect on the numerous accomplishments of the past 12 months. It is also a time where we set our sights on the future and the exciting opportunities we have as the largest single-breed rescue group in Canada.
As I hunkered down to compile my thoughts about the year gone by, I only had to look on the floor beneath my desk to find my inspiration. Lying somewhat quietly were our adopted fur-kids ~ Golden beauties, Zoey #1526 and Oakley #2071, loyally keeping vigil in the wee hours of the night, somehow knowing that I needed their support.
They truly are my inspiration. They serve as a constant reminder that without Golden Rescue they may never have had the freedom to swim in a lake and go fishing, ride shotgun in a boat, chase squirrels for fun, sleep in a warm bed or have their hearts nourished with love. Without Golden Rescue, I’m not sure where our Jake, Zoey, and Oakley would have been and I cannot bear to think about it.
Without Golden Rescue, I’m not sure any of us could bear to think about where the 2,400 Goldens rescued to-date would be.
We do important work. We step up when others cannot. We rescue when the call comes. And we all sleep better at night knowing that the Goldens in our care are truly the lucky ones. Thankfully, we are well positioned to continue our efforts as our work is never done and unfortunately there will always be more Goldens in peril.
Everyone in this room and the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters comprise one of the largest most productive rescue organizations in North America. I am constantly in awe of the tireless devotion of our volunteers who embody passion, courage, optimism, and a united vision to provide a better life for our Goldens.
Together we have overcome obstacles and challenges and we have responsibly moved forward with new initiatives and a broader reach so we could rescue more Goldens in need.
2015 has been quite a remarkable year and as I tried to wrap my arms around all of our achievements for the purpose of today’s meeting, I realized that a consistent theme had emerged as the underpinning of our success. That theme is about connections. Indeed, Golden Rescue has become very adept at connecting with like-minded people and it is apparent that our key messages and initiatives have struck a chord deep in the hearts of Golden lovers across this country and beyond.
I hope you will be as proud as I am of our success as I review the important connections we have made this year...
Our Rescue Mission of Love – Operation Istanbul is one of the most unique examples of our ability to connect with those in need. This intricate venture is proof that rescue knows no borders. It has attracted the attention of thousands of supporters and a great deal of media. Our story was covered 34 times, covered by major television networks, magazines, newspapers, and numerous online sources and we received more than 94 million impressions from these stories.
Golden in shelter in Istanbul
Istanbul Goldens’ arrival in Toronto
Due to this awareness, we have been invited to participate in the prestigious Yorkville Run. Golden Rescue is the only animal welfare organization ever to be included in a field of prominent charities. So our sweet Istanbul Goldies have created quite a stir here in Canada and have helped us forge new and beneficial connections.
Wishbone Lottery 2015 was another huge success, netting us the largest return in its four-year run. We had more volunteers, diligently connecting with their networks and to give you a sense of our lottery buzz, one volunteer single-handedly sold more than six thousand dollars’ worth of tickets, proving that connections combined with tenacity work!
To mark our 25th anniversary, we compiled heart-warming, heart-string-pulling stories and published our beautiful coffee table book, Golden Reflections. Receiving rave reviews, Golden Reflections now graces homes across the country to be viewed by thousands more people, connecting new potential supporters with our story, every day. Golden Reflections also is now being sold on Amazon.
Many volunteers this year perched with their beautiful Goldens in front of the LCBO which proved to be a brilliant way to connect with happy, generous people who wanted to know more about our story. From modest beginnings years ago, LCBO Tag Days have become a major awareness-builder and fundraiser.
We have also chosen to improve efficiencies in the way we connect with those who want to make donations. We have purchased five debit machines which now provide the ability to instantly accept debit and credit card transactions.
When I think about the strength of our database only a few years ago and compare it with the numbers we have today, it’s remarkable to note how much it has grown. We are now connected to more than 8,000 active supporters who receive e-blasts, daily Facebook updates, invitations and news on the go. I want to offer my personal kudos to our outrageously talented Social Media and Website team members who are primarily responsible for this spike in our database numbers. Our Facebook page, updated daily, has become a must-see stop, reaching thousands of people every day. This group prides itself on keeping our social media current, fresh, relevant, attractive, and interesting. Bravo to this team and thank you for keeping us connected!
Golden Rescue’s website is also looking better than ever. With constantly updated stories, events and invites, we are attracting more views with consistent and interesting messaging. And we have created videos about fostering and the Istanbul Goldens, posted on the website, to offer an in-depth perspective about our organization. Click Here to Watch
Our Hotline has noticed a significant increase in calls, usually in response to adoption notices. The team has coined the phrase ‘hot dog’ when a popular pup lights up the Hotline. We received more than 75 calls over three days earlier this year for a young boy who was a favourite among hopeful adopters. The Hotline is receiving more calls than ever before.
The Guardian, our quarterly newsletter now has a far-reaching more expansive subscriber group and we are looking at the possibility of providing a paperless version ~ where a simple click would connect more readers with all of Golden Rescue’s news and updates.
For the first time in ten years, we have increased our adoption fee from $400 to $500 and we are continually adding to our monthly donor numbers. These and other initiatives have allowed us to remain fiscally responsible and financially healthy so we will never have to turn away a Golden in need.
On a personal note, I have to say that not a day goes by where I am not profoundly struck by the devotion of so many people who keep Golden Rescue moving forward. It is because of a dedicated Board of Directors and hundreds of volunteers who balance life, work, and their passion for Goldens that we are in such good shape today. I am excited to think about the possibilities for the future and where we are headed. I am moved by the stories of hope, resiliency and love that surround us every time we connect a forever family with one of our Goldens, providing a second chance at a life that is better, happier, safer, and healthier.
I am uplifted by the number of volunteers who say that Golden Rescue gives them a sense of purpose and by our adopters who say that their new Golden has given them a reason to live, has completed their family, has brought a smile to their face and joy to their world. And I am inspired when I read emails from adopters who talk about the effect of rescue, saying that they too were rescued the day they adopted their Golden.
And, oh my, witnessing the arrival our Istanbul Goldens is a stunning sight to behold. Air Canada Cargo employees (who have come to cherish these sweet ‘ruffugees’ as much as we do) have been our partners in this journey to freedom for so many Goldens who are in desperate need of a second chance. One by one they are released into the loving arms of their waiting Foster-to-Adopt families, instantly changing their lives forever.
I think this year has proved that a Golden in need will always have a place to call home with Golden Rescue, regardless of geography ~ whether he or she comes from around the world or around the corner. Second chances begin with us and we welcome each and every rescue with a spirit of generosity and an open heart.
From our humble beginnings in 1990 to where we are today, we have witnessed a lot of change, enormous progress, and a growing interest in our organization. Together with volunteers, supporters and our board, we have made dreams come true for thousands of Goldens and for the families who love them and I look forward to sustaining and building on our accomplishments in the future.