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October 23. 2013 8:55PM
Project Pawsitive hits fundraising roadblock
By GRETYL MACALASTER
Union Leader Correspondent
PORTSMOUTH — Since founding Project Pawsitive in 2009, Jill Sullivan Grueter has finished every project she has started.
But her worst fears about fundraising are currently coming true.
With a project at the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, Maine, scheduled to begin on Nov. 2, Grueter said she is concerned she will not be able to raise enough money for materials.
The project would represent the 10th renovation completed by Project Pawsitive, founded by Grueter to provide renovations for animal rescues and shelters, who often have maintenance needs and no money to make them happen.
Since 2009, Project Pawsitive has completed renovations at Lucky’s Legacy in Epping, the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, the Salem Animal Rescue League, the Loki Wolf Sanctuary in Chatham and at the Animal Rescue Network of New England in Pelham.
Project Pawsitive is made up of five volunteer members, including Grueter, a carpenter, an electrician, a jack-of-all-trades and a designer.
“My team is all volunteer, including myself. I left my full-time, very well paying job 2½ years ago and I haven’t taken a dime since,” Grueter said. “It’s very difficult to do, but I believe so much in what we’re doing.”
Renovations can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $30,000, Grueter said, and the shelters do not pay a dime for the work or the materials.
The project at the Center for Wildlife is expected to cost about $7,000 and funds will primarily be used to replace the roof of a large flight cage used for birds of prey before their release. The cage has been out of use for about a year because of the damaged roof.
Grueter said most of the money raised by Project Pawsitive is raised through private donations. She has also had previous success with the online crowd funding website indiegogo.com, but not so far this time.
“Things can go extremely well, or things can go extremely bad, and that’s sort of what’s happening right now,” Grueter said. “We are trying to get out there with social media and just do every single thing that I can to get the word out about the extreme need we have for donations to buy the materials for this roof and they are just not coming in.”
Grueter said they need to raise a bare minimum of $3,600 to get the roof done and she does not want to even think about not raising the funds.
“In my mind, we are doing it no matter what,” Grueter said. “Something always works out.”
She said the organization’s board is also planning to move ahead with future projects, including an interior renovation this winter, and four to five projects next year.
She said their goal would be to take Project Pawsitive national. They have received requests for work from as far as Australia and also completed a project in Tennessee.
“Our Facebook page has almost 10,000 fans. When we get people really behind the project they really tend to support it. This one is really baffling me because the Center for Wildlife is the most amazing place,” Grueter said.
Lauren Graham, wildlife specialist at the Center for Wildlife, said the cage in question is used when birds are close to release to ensure they gain muscle strength and can fly well.
“This cage has been one of our most useful in the past and has had some roof issues so we haven’t been able to use it for about a year now,” Graham said. “So when Project Pawsitive contacted us and said they were interested in helping with a project, this immediately came to mind as something we have a really strong need for.”
Last year, the center treated 65 total birds of prey, ranging from very small birds to species as large as the snowy owl and turkey vulture.
“Probably the majority of them were birds that would benefit from a cage of that size,” Graham said.
The center has over 40 buildings, including small and large outdoor enclosures, Graham said, meaning something always needs to be fixed.
“Having someone like Project Pawsitive that can come in and take the project off of our hands frees us up to do other projects we have,” Graham said.
She said if Project Pawsitive is not able to complete the work, the Center will continue to look for ways to do it themselves.
Grueter said they will continue to fundraise and remain positive about their ability to complete the project. More information is available at www.projectpawsitive.org.