All for the love of animals

First Posted: 8/30/2014

Irem Temple Country Club Pavilion was filled on Aug. 30 with the sights and sounds of those celebrating not only the last vestiges of the summer season, but the opportunity to support Blue Chip Farms Animal Refuge. The sixth annual benefit is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and a wonderful chance for pet lovers to gather together while raising money for a cause they fully support.

Marge Bart, president and founder of the organization, lauded the organization’s volunteers who made the event possible. Bart said their shared vision of providing safe homes for animals, many of which have been abused or neglected, motivated many hours of hard work both at the farm and in preparation for the event.

“Some of our volunteers put over 40 hours a week in, caring for our animals with a great deal of enthusiasm and concern,” said Bart. “Because we are staffed by volunteers, funds raised go directly to the care of the animals.”

Volunteers lauded Bart and Vice-President Tanya Stankus, who share a continuing commitment to the organization and the animals that it rescues, often from homelessness or neglect.

Kristin Fino was among the volunteers making the event possible. Many attendees lauded her hard work in setting up the event venue and insuring the activities of the evening ran smoothly.

Fino, a proud owner of two Maltese dogs, emphasized the love and commitment necessary to maintain a pet.

“Pets, especially dogs, do require a great deal of care,” she said, “and it is all very worth it.”

Weather fully cooperated with the event, and many attendees said they enjoyed the outdoor environment the pavilion provided.

“This is our first year here,” said Bart, “and we are very happy to be holding the event at such a beautiful Back Mountain venue.”

Among the younger set, Clare Stretanski, 9, was having fun at the event and was happy to be “raising money for animals.”

Mother Jill Stretanski said it was her daughter’s to attend the fund raiser which she learned about at Vacation Bible School.

Liam Davis, 9, proud owner of two hamsters, a dog, a frog and two hermit crabs, came out to support all the good work that Blue Chip does.

Cousin Ainsely Eidam, 9, of Shavertown, said, as an owner of nine fish, she felt she had a responsibility to support the good care of all animals. She also said she was having a lot of fun with friends and family.

Patrick Cleary, of Dallas, a weekend volunteer, especially loveds dogs, rabbits and horses.

“Those are the animals I like right now,” said a smiling Cleary.

Attendees who arrived hungry were not disappointed. Pierce Street Deli catered the event and presented a variety of foods, including a colorful array of cheese, vegetables and fruit, as well a variety of entrees. A dessert and coffee station completed the meal, and were especially enjoyed by those taking time after their meal to sit and absorb the beauty of the surroundings.

After-dinner music was provided by Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax and many attendees eagerly made their way to the dance floor, fully enjoying the sounds of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Sal Scrimalli, lead vocalist of the band, said it was a special pleasure to play at the event because he is also an animal lover.

“I was recently at the veterinary with my cockapoo,” said Scrimalli, “and she credited my dog’s good health with how much we love him!”

Band member Nick Constanza was enjoying the event because attendees, obviously having a great time, were also raising money for a good cause.

Judy Samartzis, of Pittston, went to the event specifically to enjoy the music.

She is especially proud of her 12-year-old cat who “hardly ever needs to go to the vet” because of the loving home and good care she provides.

A basket raffle available at the event was a result of the generosity of members of the community. Carefully-crafted baskets contained a variety of items from those geared to coffee lovers to a collection of accessories for fashionistas.

For the more pragmatic attendees, a set of tires was also raffled.

Attendees unanimously credited the organization with its “no kill” commitment, as well as its effort to educate those in the community and provide safe, positive adoptions for its animals. All said there was a marked need in the community which Blue Chip helped meet.

In 2013, 427 dogs and 184 cats were placed in good homes by the rescue.

Seemingly the night filled with wonderful sound, delicious food and a beautiful atmosphere had something for those wanting to have a good time, while raising money for Blue Chip Farms and the animals it serves.

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