While Friends of Animals has evolved greatly since its beginnings in 1957 as the most comprehensive low-cost spay neuter program in the country, cats and dogs continue to be a major part of its animal advocacy. And volunteers continue to make the program a success. It is with sadness we announce that our longest-running volunteer Carol Roman, from Maple Shade, New Jersey, has passed away.

For the past 55 years, Roman served as FoA’s representative in Southern New Jersey for our low-cost spay/neuter certificate program. Roman sold thousands of low-cost spay/neuter certificates to people with pets. Buyers of the certificates used them at the Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees or at select veterinary offices to have their cats and dogs altered. Roman often went above and beyond—whenever a caller couldn’t afford the cost of a certificate, she dug into her own pocket to pay for it. Roman also organized numerous fundraisers for FoA. Until the day she died, Roman advocated for spay and neutering to prevent births of unwanted animals in a nation where shelters are overpopulated and millions of cats and dogs are still put down each year because there aren’t enough good homes for them. For that, FoA is eternally grateful.

We are also grateful to the volunteers who assisted last year, as we were busier than ever.

We collaborated with the Mayor’s Alliance of New York City to create the first ever Friends of Animals’ Spay/Neuter Certificates exclusively for the Community Cat Spay and Neuter Program—which supports an extensive trap-neuter-return program in New York City. One of the volunteers with the program wrote to us, “These certificates are so handy! When I couldn’t get an appointment at one of the local nonprofits because they were booked for weeks, I was able to use several of the certificates at my local vet, which was not only convenient but vital.”

FoA also supported the efforts of Spay San Antonio by providing spay and neuter surgeries for hundreds of cats in the area—one of whom was Gordo, a thin, injured cat who seemed ready to give up. His owner found him limping behind his house. SpaySA works mostly with low-income families, and Gordo was able to get his neuter procedure and other vaccinations through the collaboration with Friends of Animals. His owner let us know that he is now a happy house cat.

In 2014 we focused on especially vulnerable communities in need throughout the United States. In addition to New York City and San Antonio, we helped rescue groups and shelters in Long Island; Prescott, Ariz.; Los Angeles; Virginia; New Jersey; Bronx, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio, and one off the coast of South Carolina. And many, many more.

Our education component is also a crucial part of our work. We continue to teach individuals and families who are considering adoption (or already have pets) that it’s essential to adopt from shelters and/or rescue groups and never buy from a breeder; and we work tirelessly to educate the public about the need for a life-long commitment to our cats and dogs. Stay tuned for a striking video production underway for social media this year.

For more information about becoming a volunteer, call Paula Santo at 203.656.1522 or email her at spayprogram@friendsofanimals.org.