Lorna Barrett, president and founder
As an animal lover for as long as I can remember, I have always felt the need to do whatever I could to improve conditions for companion animals. And, having been a co-owner of the popular neighborhood restaurant Village Deli in Augusta with my husband and best friend, Les, for over 26 years, I feel fortunate enough to have developed good relationships with a wide circle of people, most of whom share that love of their four-legged companions. In 2009, I founded a non-profit organization called That’s What Friends Are For, Inc., which creates fundraising events and networks with rescue groups and individuals to be able to provide financial assistance for spay/neuter, vaccines and medical procedures to improve the quality of life for dogs and cats. We network together to reunite lost pets with their families and to find solutions when pet owners are struggling.
I have a special place in my heart for community (feral) cats, most of whom have been discarded by humans and left to fend for themselves. Mama Kitty was one such cat who had four litters of kittens (all of which were taken from her and have been placed in loving homes) before I could finally trap and spay her. I believe she was relieved not to have to go through that process anymore, because she began to trust me. Now she lives in our house and sleeps in our bed. Feral, Schmeral! If you would like to learn more about our programs and goals, please explore our website and like us on facebook. It truly is all about the animals to us. =^..^=
Tara Ford Romes, vice-chairwoman
My name is Tara Ford Romes, local girl, from the Augusta/Evans area. I developed my passion for animals about 16 years ago, around the same time I had overcome my own struggles. My passion started out with picking up strays, both dogs and cats, from the streets, spaying other people’s dogs just to stop to litter cycle, to being a board member of a local rescue group.
I am social worker at Fort Gordon that proudly serves our active duty service members. I am constantly participating in the community on my days off with some type of animal work and advocacy. I am known to do just about anything to help a voiceless animal, from pulling over on the side of the street to feed strays (yes, I actually ride around with food in my SUV) to loading up my SUV with my husband and daughter to help injured animals.
I have a few proud moments in rescue I’ll share. One is trapping a litter of beautiful kittens, having them all fixed by That’s What Friends are For and finding forever homes for them. My second moment was a few years back, when an urgent Facebook message was sent out to help with a dog found by a man that was hired to clear the lot. His girlfriend Holly, whom I still stay in contact with, was in desperate need of some help to get the severely emaciated dog that could not even walk off the property. My husband and I met her downtown with a kennel at night and loaded the sick dog. This dog had severe mange, was heartworm positive and was on the verge of dying. The community came together, and this dog was nursed back to health. She lives a wonderful life today. Holly dog is why I keep doing what I’m doing.
Missy Lever, secretary
Growing up in Augusta, GA, my parents instilled in me compassion and responsibility for all of God’s creatures. One of my earliest memories is of my dad stopping in the middle of the road to rescue an injured raccoon near Lake Olmsted. Our home was always filled with rescued animals, from dogs to chickens.
Although I rescue all animals, cats hold a special place in my heart. My first cat, Sheba, wandered up to my house, starving, cold and injured, one night 15 years ago. From that moment on, my home has been a safe haven for cats in transition to a new life. Winfrey, a cat who lived on a houseboat, found himself in need when his owner was diagnosed with cancer. There are many more strays, ferals and abandoned cats and kittens that I’ve helped along the way.
While there are so many cats who need rescue, there are just as many dogs. One of my dog fosters, Bullet, was found in a neighborhood off Wrightsboro Road. He had been shot and left to die on the side of the road. After receiving the medical care that saved his life, he was adopted into a loving home.
My career in sales with Lamar Advertising has given me the opportunity to meet so many animal lovers in the CSRA who also place a priority on saving animal lives. Talking to these people, as well as being a rescuer myself, made me aware of the different needs involved in getting our companion animals the help that they need. Along with my son, Jon, I reap the rewards of rescue each day when I look into a saved animals eyes. I am very excited about being part of That’s What Friends Are For, a community resource that helps fund many of the solutions needed in our area to combat overpopulation, neglect and cruelty.
My name is Stefanie Cooley, and am a lifetime lover of animals. Growing up, our home was always a safe haven to stray animals that became our pets. My dad joked that we needed a “No Vacancy” sign above our door, but never really meant it. I grew up with rescued animals and that is where my heart still is today.
My first rescue was an orange tom cat, Kitty Boy, who I used to rock in my doll cradle; he even let me dress him up. I was 4. He was with me until I was almost 18. Then, there was Chino. A young, wounded bully mix found eaten up with Parvovirus. I saved his life, and he was with me until he went over the rainbow bridge from old age.
I met Lorna Barrett, founder of TWFAF, during a transition period in my life where I had laid my last rescue, Chino, to rest a few years prior and was without an animal. A stray, injured cat found his way to my door. I had no idea what to do or who could help. Since that day, I opened my wounded heart back up and have welcomed 5 rescued dogs and 3 rescued cats into my home. They all have their own sad beginning, and story, but now they all have a happy, healthy life.
I believe in and love That’s What Friends Are For because they always go the distance, to save every single one, and every member on the board and every volunteer shares the same belief that every life counts.
This past year, I adopted a very broken 3-4 year old pup, whose medical needs were sponsored by TWFAF and friends. After years of horrible abuse, breeding, and no care, she had been dumped. She was treated for many issues, including heartworms, to begin her recovery. Through rescuing her, I have opened my mind to several natural healing approaches to soothe and heal her broken body. I have also healed my lab of her skin issues and all my pets now have a wonderful diet and strong immune system. I would love to help anybody trying to do the same!
My name is Moose Riddle, and my story of how I started in rescue is probably different from many others. I have always had cats, from the time I was little until now. They were always around. Back then, we didn’t know about spaying and neutering pets. These were just yard cats, or some would say mousers. However, as I grew up, the cats I’ve owned have been spayed or neutered and have had vet care. They’ve been inside cats and have been loved very much.
So, how did I come into the rescue thing? My wife. We had moved to the country, and while our house was being built, a hound showed up. We assumed it belonged to one of the workers, but after asking them, no one claimed her. So we took her back to the place we were renting and gave her food and water. My wife put a lost and found ad in the paper. No one claimed her. We made up flyers to put up, but we took her to the vet first because she had hair loss under her neck. Because she didn’t have a collar, we thought she better get a rabies shot. The vet told us the hair loss was from be tied up and struggling to get loose. I’m not a dog person (my wife is), but after we left the vet’s office I said, “That’s it, we’re not putting up the flyers.” After 2 weeks of looking for her owner, we decided we were not going to look any longer.
Belle led my wife into animal rescue, which in turn led me into animal rescue. Living in the country, we’ve had many animals dumped out, a few cats found a home with us, others found homes with other families. So did a few dogs. Belle opened our eyes to the plight of unwanted dogs and cats. Now, as I travel for my job, I have had opportunities to help some animals that were in need. It also brought me my furbuddy, Henry. While I was looking at a car, this cat came up and would not leave me alone. I told the lady that I was going to take her cat, and she said, “Go ahead,” and I said, “Really?” The next day I went back, got Henry, took him to the vet, and had him neutered, vaccinated and everything.
We realized that no matter how many animals we helped place in homes, without spay/neuter and teaching responsible pet ownership, there would be no end. That’s What Friends Are For’s mission statement is what I believe is the answer to pet overpopulation. Without stopping the births of these unwanted furbabies, the mistreatment, dumping and killing will continue. What about Belle? She was my wife’s faithful companion until the age of 13, when we had to say goodbye. And Henry? He is waiting for me everyday. He is the most loving cat and can’t wait to stretch out on the couch with me. He now has diabetes, but it’s under control. I hope he will be with me for a long time. Please consider adopting a rescue animal; the love they give cannot be measured.
I grew up loving animals and having dogs or cats always. My children grew up with a dachshund, a cocker spaniel and German Shepard. We even had one show up at our door step many years ago that rapidly became head of our household. It has been close to thirty years since I have had a pet, though I have fostered a few in the past with no regrets. Today, I was given a six-month-old cocker spaniel, who had to have surgery on his eye, by my good friend Mike. Arthur seems to be doing well, and he will be spoiled rotten. It has been both a privilege and pleasure working with Lorna helping to raise funds for That’s What Friends Are For, such a worthy and much needed cause.