By Elsa Buehler | Staff Writer
It has been said that a community is only as good as the people within it, and if this is true, then all of Duquesne has much to be proud of in our own mail clerk of 36 years, Carol Radzanowski.
Radzanowski was recently recognized, along with a few other local community members, by Pittsburgh Magazine as an outstanding leader for her time spent as a volunteer. She works with Animal Friends. Its website describes their organization as a non-profit companion animal resource center.
“You won’t believe how I got started,” Radzanowski said, referring to how she began her volunteer work with Animal Friends nearly 30 years ago.
Her friend was a volunteer at Animal Friends, so she invited Radzanowski to come along with her one day. Before relocating to expand their facility, Animal Friends was located in the Strip District — just a short bus ride away for Radzanowski. Despite her initial hesitation, she soon found that she loved the work.
To make a long story short: “She quit, I stayed.”
Fast forward to 2017. In April, Radzanowski received the Animal Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for her unmatched dedication, hard work and passion for taking care of the neglected animals that come into the care of the center. Animal Friends’ own publication, The Petsburgh Press, says that in the entire 74-year history of the center, only a handful of their most devoted volunteers have been presented with this special award. Radzanowski’s name and achievement will also be honored in an etched brick in the Animal Friends patio.
Over the years, Carol has logged an impressive 27,000+ volunteer hours, but who’s counting? Carol isn’t. For her, volunteering isn’t about the recognition.
“I love dogs, I always have.”
The kinds of animals coming into shelters like Animal Friends need so much, Radzanowski said, because they don’t have anyone else. Her work gives not only companionship, but a voice to animals coming off of the street.
Though she still works with the shelter animals, Radzanowski now also helps with events at the center, such as pet photos with Santa and the Easter Bunny. Recognizing owners and pets who continually return to the center’s events is particularly rewarding for her. Radzanowski loves what she does, even if it means leaving her own furry friend at home for a bit while she’s volunteering.
Radzanowski rescued her seven-year-old Jesse Luke, a bichon/cairn terrier/poodle mix, from Animal Friends five years ago. Jesse Luke is currently at his fourth and final home with Radzanowski, who says Animal Friends originally found him walking down a road with another dog in Indiana County. Though he isn’t fond of men, Jesse Luke is named after Tom Selleck franchise “Jesse Stone” and Luke Bryan. Weighing in just over 20 pounds, he is a true reminder of how mild and lovable shelter dogs are.
If you’re just as inspired by Carol and Jesse Luke’s story as we are, consider getting involved with Animal Friends, located at 562 Camp Horne Road. The training may be slightly more in depth than it was when Carol began, but the payoff is clearly more than worth it. Find out more about donating, volunteering and other projects at Animal Friends’ website: www.thinkingoutsidethecage.org.