Local business insures Last Hope with love

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“I’ve always had an affinity for animals,” Seaford insurance agent Victoria VanDeVen said as she spoke about her volunteer work for Last Hope Animal Rescue in Wantagh. “I think the truth is that they’re really helpless, and they really need people to watch over them and take care of them.”

Throughout April, VanDeVen, 47, is working with Last Hope to raise funds for the rescue to care for the animals it takes in. VanDeVen, a Plainview resident, said her State Farm insurance agency will donate $10 to Last Hope for every person who calls to ask for a quote and mentions the organization.

The donations are part of a program called Quotes for Good that her company offers. It enables employees to choose personal charities and makes contributions on their behalf. VanDeVen has advertised her work through newspaper and Facebook ads. “I picked Last Hope because I volunteer there, I have a great interest in animals, I love it there and I think they’re a really great organization,” she said. “I thought it’d be great to combine my work and my volunteer work into the same thing.”

This is the first year VanDeVen is participating in Quotes for Good, which was created last year. She has volunteered at Last Hope since September 2017. “I go in and clean out the cages [and] help care for the animals,” she said. “I’m on the cat side.”

With the help of her husband, Rob Perelmuter, their 16-year-old son, Nick, and their 15-year-old daughter, Jess, VanDeVen has fostered kittens from Last Hope for the past year. She took care of a litter of five kittens last April, and a litter of four in June. “[Last Hope] needs volunteers to take them home, because they need to be brought up to the proper weight and be socialized, so they’re ready for adoption,” she explained.

Most shelters have minimum weight limits of about 2 pounds for kittens, which also must be at least 2 months old, according to intake workers at the North Shore Animal League.

Eight months ago, VanDeVen fostered a kitten with a broken leg that needed to be bottle-fed. She fell in love with the domestic short-hair, which she named Sky, and adopted it in January.

Last Hope provides a cage, food, towels, blankets and toys for VanDeVen when she fosters the kittens. “The length of fostering depends on the needs and ages of the kittens,” VanDeVen wrote in an email.

Being a foster parent has opened her eyes to the work people do to help animals. “The things these people [at Last Hope] do — they’re so generous and so caring about animals,” she said. “It’s really a great community. They’ll go out in the rain to find a cat that someone called about that’s injured or trapped. I kind of fell in love with how dedicated they are.”

Last Hope Outreach Coordinator Joanne Anderson said that every little bit of money helps. Even though she has not met VanDeVen, it is nice to have her as one of Last Hope’s Seaford volunteers and adoption families, Anderson said. “What’s nice about [her company’s program] is it’s something that can generate money for Last Hope without Last Hope volunteers doing the work,” she said. Programs like VanDeVen’s, she added, were doubly helpful, serving to raise money as well as freeing volunteers for other projects.

VanDeVen said her company “feels it is important to give back to the communities in which we do our business. . . . What I’m really trying to do it get the word out about Last Hope, about the great work that they do for animals.”

To take part in Quotes for Good, call VanDeVen’s State Farm office, at (516) 221-3200, or visit her website, https://bit.ly/2U6x89h.