We often talk about the number of animals we see at Peace River Wildlife Center. Let’s look at the number of people that impact and are impacted by PRWC.
By rough estimate, we have approximately 100,000 visitors each year coming to the Center to tour our permanent residents’ habitats and learn more about native Florida wildlife. Other people that we see are a result of outreach programs at schools, civic organizations, and community events.
PRWC’s mission is to rehabilitate orphaned, injured, and ill native Florida wildlife and get the healthy individuals back out into the wild. Our secondary mission is to educate the people living in and visiting this area how to peacefully coexist with the abundance of wildlife with which we are fortunate enough to share this little corner of paradise.
While the rehab staff consists of a few highly trained (if not-so-highly paid) rehabbers and technicians, the rest of PRWC’s staff comprises volunteers from all walks of life. More than 100 people a year give their time, their hearts, and often their own money to help keep PRWC open, clean, and operating smoothly. Even our paid staff members can be considered volunteers if one realizes that they could be making significantly more money in the private sector than working for a small non-profit.
This past Wednesday, we celebrated and thanked our staff (both volunteers and employees) with a special dinner in their honour, immediately after our annual membership meeting. Held at Laishley Crab House, the event was well-attended and a huge success.
We are grateful for our volunteers at PRWC. We appreciate their hard work as they clean each cage and habitat every day. They scrub, scoop, and rake. They chop food, wash laundry, and sweep floors. They provide tours, man the gift shop, and answer phones. They are hospital aides, tour guides, gift shop clerks, maintenance engineers, cleaners, board members, office staffers, rescuers, outreach reps, and home care techs. They rescue injured animals, pick up donated items, go to outreach events, and cobble our crumbling facilities together with duct tape and promises of the future.
This amazing little army keeps PRWC running and has been responsible for most of the major changes and improvements over the years. Without them we could not function on a daily basis and could not provide the level of care that we do to our patients and resident animals.
The Annual State of the Organization Address was extremely positive. Adequate funds have been raised for the online gift shop start-up. We are close to 80% of our goal towards our capital campaign. We have had an infusion of fresh blood into our board and the seasoned members taking over new positions as officers are excited to carry on the legacy of their successful predecessors.
Thanks to our staff of volunteers and employees, Trip Advisor has rated PRWC as the #1 Thing To Do in Punta Gorda. We get visitors from all over the county, state, country, and world. Many of them come to see our star attraction, Luna, the leucistic (albino) owl.
Speaking of Luna, PRWC is having our second annual bluegrass celebration as a fundraiser this weekend. LunaTunes will be Saturday, March 3, starting at 1p.m. at Florida SouthWestern State College Campus (26300 Airport Road, Punta Gorda.) We had such a great response last year, we sold out of tickets and had to move to a larger venue.
Featuring three well-known area bluegrass bands—Southwind Bluegrass Band, The Bugtussle Ramblers, and The Sawgrass Drifters— LunaFest tickets are only $10 each and available at PRWC’s office or online at www.prwc.rocks . Food and drinks will be available onsite (Big John’s amazing barbeque) so no coolers, please. You are encouraged to bring your own chairs. For more information go to www.peaceriverwildlifecenter.org or call 941-637-3830. Tickets may be available at the gate.
by – Robin Jenkins, DVM