The Josephine County Animal Shelter bestowed its annual Raskin Awards upon the Valley’s animal service volunteer Nancy Lindquist of the Toby Fund and Operation Rambo, a local nonprofit that connects military veterans with dogs who were rescued from shelters before being trained to be service dogs
The Board of Josephine County Commissioners hosted a brief awards ceremony for Operation Rambo and Lindquist at their July 26 weekly business session, held at the Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
“The Raskin Award was started by the late Carl Raskin,” JoCo Animal Shelter Manager Laura Jensen recounted at the ceremony. “He was an animal advocate for our community whose legacy lives on today in several ways. His spay / neuter focus has had community impacts beyond just our shelter, so we honor his legacy with folks who carry on good work that touches all parts of our animal community.”
Jensen read aloud the nomination statement for Operation Rambo:
“Ray is the founder of Operation Rambo. He will adopt dogs out of shelters, start training with them, match them up to the right veteran and then spend hours and hours working with them to turn that one-time shelter dog into the veteran’s forever service dog. I’ve seen the magic and wonder in the eyes of both the dog and the veteran when one realizes he or she has a home and a job to do and the other realizes that he or she has their life back. We are so proud to have them in our community and Ray particularly puts in so much work with Operation Rambo and we are honored to recognize him as our organization Raskin Award winner for Operation Rambo.”
The animal shelter falls under the purview of JoCo Public Health, whose director Michael Weber offered praise of animal protection organizations during remarks at the ceremony:
“Work in Public Health can be tiring sometimes. The things that I find most exhausting are oftentimes the things that are also most beneficial for us. We work with a lot of communities – we work with homeless and food insecurity and inadequate access to medical care and animals in need.
“What we love about working with these communities is that we get to see those in our community that are willing to step up and help and make a difference and time and time again what we find is those groups that are most passionate and most engaged are almost always when it comes to supporting animals in need, whether it be a dog that needs medical care or instances like canine solutions or 29 goats and 400 rabbits, cats and dogs needing to be housed after a fire. We always see people step up and willing to help; we always see people willing to answer the call and the Raskin Award is our opportunity to recognize those in the community that have gone above and beyond to help those that really can’t help themselves.”
In addition to voting for an organization to receive a Raskin Award, the shelter also selects an individual volunteer to honor, and this year that person was Nancy Lindquist.
“Nancy has been an animal advocate in our community for many years,” Shelter Manager Jensen remarked. “Her scope of advocacy has ranged from volunteering at the shelter, transporting animals, fostering cats, helping with evacuation shelters, taking on TNR projects, chairing the Shelter Advisory Board and most recently she has taken over the Toby Fund after the passing of its founder and former Raskin Award winner Kathy Oxendine. Nancy is a direct line for help for folks with pets who have been injured or are sick who cannot afford vet care. She uses her own time and often her own dollars to reach out and collect assistance to ensure all members of our community are cared for. We just really appreciate everything you’ve done, Nancy, for our shelter, for the community, through Toby Fund, through your personal work. Everything you’ve done has an impact probably greater than you may realize and your passion for animals is just so evident in every single aspect of your life.”
“Thank you for all that you do,” Board Chair Herman Baertschiger told the award recipients. “We really appreciate it.”
The board chair later added, “It just shows the community involvement and how people care about this community and the dedication and that’s just what makes Josephine County such a great place to live.”
The Illinois Valley News congratulated Lindquist on her award and asked her what keeps her motivated to help so many animals. Lindquist answered, “I worked for 25 years in the corporate environment and my dream was always to make a country home with lots of animals. Once my dream was realized, I couldn’t stop there. I think it all started with my cat Princess sleeping in my crib keeping me company and warm when I was a baby. It’s about taking care of animals, who as we know cannot speak for themselves. Spay and Neuter will be my epitaph on my gravestone!”