Greyhound Friends looks to bounce back

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Greyhound Friends open house
Greyhound Friends executive director Teri Shepard is working to get the shelter back to full strength now that pandemic restrictions are easing. PHOTO/JERRY SPAR

Greyhound Friends, the nonprofit adoption shelter on Saddle Hill Road, held its annual open house June 5. The event included a remembrance ceremony, a silent auction, vendors, refreshments, music and visits with adoptable dogs.

After dealing with the controversy surrounding its former director that led to the shelter being shuttered by the authorities, the shelter reorganized, made some physical improvements and reopened, only to be extremely limited when the pandemic hit. Additionally, the closing of greyhound racing tracks in Florida has limited the number of greyhounds needing to be rescued.

“This past year has been very difficult due to COVID restrictions,” executive director Teri Shepard said. “After just reopening, we were shut down. So we had to decide what we were going to do. So we decided to spend this time solidifying our policies and procedures and bringing them from written to functional, making sure everything worked properly.”

Added Cathy DeNorscia, president of the Greyhound Friends Board of Directors: “The past year has been challenging to say the least. Between the pandemic and the end of greyhound racing in Florida we’ve had a shortage of dogs, and we’ve had to run the shelter on a skeleton crew of staff and volunteers. We are optimistic, however, that as the COVID restrictions ease up things will pick up and we’ll be able to build our programs, especially our volunteer and community outreach and education programs.”

Shepard touted the partnerships Greyhound Friends has formed with other like-minded organizations in the region, and she credited Elizabeth Russell from Healthy Paws Veterinary Center [in Westborough] for allowing the shelter to “treat all of our animals in a timely fashion while many other vets were overloaded.”

At the open house there were three dogs being housed in the shelter, and two already had commitments to be adopted.

Shepard said the shelter was expecting more dogs to be sent from Kentucky, and the shelter has been working to bring in dogs from overseas as well.

“We’ve all been closed to the public during this pandemic, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to continue to adopt out dogs and build all these new relationships while so many around us have had to shut down,” Shepard said. “I fully intend to stay on this path as we slowly begin to reopen.”

Confederate controversy hits home

The national controversy surrounding how to recognize individuals who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War recently made its way to Hopkinton. In April’s Senior Center newsletter, the Hilltopper, there was a box noting culturally significant events for the month. One of the items referenced Confederate Memorial Day, an April holiday in several Southern states that honors those who fought against the Union.

Director of Senior Services Amy Beck explained that the item was “inserted and missed in the editing process,” a “mistake” that she fixed by removing the reference. She followed with an apology to newsletter recipients, a letter that also was posted on the town’s website.

“Neither I nor the Hopkinton Senior Center endorses commemorating any group that seeks to marginalize and oppress any minority group or community,” Beck wrote in her apology. “The observance mentioned in the newsletter does not reflect the values of the Hopkinton Senior Center or the Town of Hopkinton’s commitment to recognizing and opposing systemic racism, as put forth in the town’s pledge ‘to address systemic racism, social injustice, and inequity in the way we govern and provide services to our residents and businesses.’ I fully support this pledge not only as an individual but as the Director of Senior Services. Racism in any form should never be tolerated and has no place at the Senior Center or in Hopkinton.”

Beck promised that “stricter attention will be paid” to the editing process going forward.

Freedom Team hosts Pride Parade

The Hopkinton Freedom Team, in collaboration with the Hopkinton Youth Commission, is hosting Hopkinton’s first LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade on Saturday, June 26, from 2-3 p.m. at the Hopkinton High School outdoor track. The parade will consist of three laps around the track.

Organizers say various town organizations will participate in the event, which will be broadcast on HCAM.

The parade takes place during Pride Month, when events are planned that are “fun and upbeat gatherings centered around celebrating LGBTQIA+ people for who they are,” according to the Freedom Team website.

Smitha Ram, who is a member of both the Freedom Team and the South Asian Circle of Hopkinton, designed the colorful poster for the event. It features people marching while holding rainbow flags.

For more information and to register to walk or watch — advance registration is required for either — visit hopkintonfreedomteam.org or email proudmanfreya@gmail.com.

Pride Parade poster
The inaugural LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade will take place June 26 at the Hopkinton High School outdoor track.