UPAWS lost a long-time volunteer and very good friend. Gary Dionne was recruited as a UPAWS volunteer by his wife, Linda Dionne. Linda had been volunteering at UPAWS for years and found some untraditional volunteer duties her handyman husband could take care of upon retirement. Gary quickly became the Shelter’s volunteer “Maintenance Engineer.” Big or small, if it needed fixing at the shelter, Gary and Linda have been there to fix it. Over the years, Gary and Linda have helped with a multitude of tasks to help keep UPAWS shelter maintained and running as best as it can. Our tired, run-down shelter would probably never have lasted us this long without them. But their volunteerism didn’t stop there. They’ve also opened up their home and termed it as the “Dionne Spa” to foster homeless pets in need of a safe haven. They’ve volunteered and attended numerous fundraisers over the years, often bringing additional friends along to support as well. The Dionne’s actively attended Board Meetings, even keeping up to date during Gary’s hard fought battle and treatments.
If you attended Cause for Paws in 2015 you probably recall Gary and Linda receiving UPAWS Assisi Award. An award given as a legacy of selfless service resulting in not only saving countless lives, but also improving the quality of life for all of our companion animals. For those of you who were not in attendance, the speech given by former Board President Reva Laituri perfectly summed up just how much their dedicated years of volunteerism has impacted UPAWS and the lives of countless animals (Award speech link below). Today, we remember our good friend and his infectious smile. We remember all he has done for UPAWS over the years, and the friendships created with staff, board members, and fellow volunteers. We remember his tireless dedication to UPAWS mission, and helping improve the lives of homeless animals and our community. Our thoughts are with Linda, family and friends at this very difficult time. We will carry his memory in our hearts as we journey to the new shelter in the future. We will miss you Big Guy. Thank you for everything.