This article was featured in WYDaily on 6/10/22.
When times are tough, pet owners often turn to their animal companions for comfort. The last thing a person or family facing financial hardship wants is to have to give up their pets. Thanks to the Heritage Humane Society, they help keep pets and their human companion families together with their Kibble Kitchen service of pet food and critical supplies.
Founded in 2014, the Kibble Kitchen at the Heritage Humane Society began as a small pantry with dog and cat food. Its mission was simple, to help Greater Williamsburg’s pet owners-in-need obtain food for their furry companions. Over the years, it has grown in demand, community members served and even in space.
Today, the Kibble Kitchen consists of three big closets in the recently added class and community room at the Heritage Humane Society. From just a few pets and families during its first year, the Kibble Kitchen served 1,211 pets and 245 families in 2021.
The Kibble Kitchen’s footprint has also expanded by meeting community members where they are at. The program also operates out of Williamsburg House of Mercy and Grove Christian Outreach Center.
“Grove Christian Outreach Center (GCOC) is grateful for the collaboration with Heritage Humane Society (HHS) and the pet supplies they faithfully deliver to the families in Grove. Pets bring so much to the home, from comfort care and companionship to service animals and furry “children” that leave their caretakers feeling fulfilled and happy. When a family living at or below the poverty level is struggling to make ends meet and put groceries in their cupboards, pets suffer too. Too often, household members will skip their own meals to take care of their animals, and we are grateful that this partnership prevents that from happening. HHS brings not only food and treats for various domestic pets, they also bring leashes and collars, and equally as important, educational information about spaying and neutering pets to reduce over population of animals. Families in Grove have a great love for their pets, they have hope that comes from loving another being. The Outreach Center and the Humane Society are feeding that hope, one fur (or scaly or feathered) baby at a time!” shares Katie Patrick, Executive Director, Grove Christian Outreach Center.
While many may only think of the animal shelter as a place for adopting cats, dogs and more, or to bring lost pets, the vital community resource goes far beyond. While it’s true that 1,500 shelter pets are served annually, 1,200 additional pets are supported in the community through programs such as the Kibble Kitchen.
Meet Diana Krell, “Master Chef” of the Kibble Kitchen
Diana Krell, Programs & Volunteer Services Director, joined Heritage Humane Society in 2010. With years of working with both animals and people in need, Krell’s career path with Greater Williamsburg’s biggest pet resource is kept her centered with outreach work. Prior to joining HHS, she worked for the Norfolk SPCA. Following that, she worked at ForKids, Inc., an agency serving homeless families or those in precarious circumstances facing eviction, needing transportation to hold onto a job, paying bills and more.
A friend introduced her to Heritage Humane Society and soon she joined the team as a volunteer coordinator and humane educator. She progressed to program services and operations manager, and today serves as the programs & volunteers services director.
“Here at the Heritage Humane Society, through our services such as the Kibble Kitchen, our goal is to keep pets with their families, in the home where they are loved and cherished, and if we can provide the support needed to make that happen, it’s an ideal outcome for our community,” says Diana Krell, Programs & Volunteer Services Director of the Heritage Humane Society.
Empty shelves: new giving program for area businesses
Todd Esposito, on-staff at Canon Virginia, Inc. located in Newport News, recently stopped by the Heritage Humane Society to sign-up the manufacturing giant as a sponsor for the shelter’s upcoming Make Par for Pets Golf Classic being held Sept. 16, 2022, at Kingsmill Resort. While there, Esposito was touring the facility and noticed that the Kibble Kitchen closets were mostly bare. With a quick picture taken and sent to his colleagues at Canon, the community business quickly came to the rescue providing perfectly sized bags of pet food for families in-need.
“I have always been an animal lover and always had pets growing up and still do. Pets to me just want to give love and be loved, but there are always those unfortunate ones. When I visited the Heritage Humane Society and saw all those animals caged up it hit me. Speaking with the unbelievable staff and the passion they had I had to ask how can I help? They asked if I could help with cat food, which was in great need. I immediately through my travels picked up as much food as I could and returned it to them to distribute any way they needed. My pets have helped me through rough days in the past and will in the future so hopefully I helped a few unfortunate ones have a better day,” shared Todd Esposito, Branch Manager of Canon Virginia, Inc.
Esposito’s generosity sparked the shelter’s newest giving opportunity. It is asking local businesses and organizations to pick a week and fill the Kibble Kitchen resulting in 52 weeks of community support for local families and pets in-need.
There are three locations to receive help from the Kibble Kitchen.
Heritage Humane Society. Requestees can go to HumaneSociety.org and click on this form to complete an online request for assistance, or email [email protected], or call 757-221-0150 ext. 1004. Heritage Humane Society is located at 430 Waller Mill Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
Grove Christian Outreach. Kibble Kitchen distributions are the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Grove Christian Outreach is located at 8800 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
Williamsburg House of Mercy. Kibble Kitchen distributions are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. Williamsburg House of Mercy is located at 10 Harrison Avenue, Williamsburg, VA 23185.