Helping the animals

HOUGHTON – Operating an animal shelter is a costly endeavor. There are many different aspects that need to be taken into consideration – food, medical care and staffing the shelter are just a few of the costs. But the Copper Country Humane Society is lucky enough to be in a community where its residents care enough to help out. Two of those residents are Dave and Diana Stimac, who run Nature’s Way Woodworking. For the past seven years, they have built coffee tables using a combination of gems, stones and copper from all over the world. They then donate the coffee table to be used in a raffle benefitting the Copper Country Humane Society.

Dave said the entire project began when he was at the Hilltop Restaurant and was chatting with owner LeRita Allert, who also volunteers at the CCHS and is on the organization’s board.

“We were talking and thought we could maybe raise some money for the shelter because they’re always in need,” Stimac said.

Allert suggested using the restaurant to display the table, which has a retail value of $4,500, and to sell tickets all year. The rest is history.

Stimac said he makes tables in advance. The last time he constructed tables he made three but leaves the top empty for the gems and stones, as well as a possible dedication.

“A few years ago there was a really abused pitbull and he had frostbite,” Stimac said. “They thought they were going to have to put it down but it wound up being its mascot. When he died we put a special tribute in that table top.”

Stimac is happy to be able to help the CCHS because he thinks it’s such a great organization.

“I’ve belonged to groups in the past and if you have 100 members, you usually have six to eight (people) who do everything,” Stimac said. “But the Humane Society has a core of people and volunteers there that is second to none – true, dedicated people to the animals, which is contagious. When you see people with that much dedication to the animals it’s nice to be part of a group like that.”

Dave also receives help from his wife, Diana, with the tables. In fact, she’s usually the one who does the inlay with the gems and stones.

Through the raffle fundraiser, $11,000 was raised to benefit the Copper Country Humane Society. But while that’s a significant amount to raise, more than $200,000 is needed each year to keep the shelter up and running.

Every animal that is brought through the shelter is sterilized and between 500 and 600 cats and dogs are sterilized each year. The cost of which can range between $100 to $200.

LeRita Allert said she thinks the fundraiser is a great cause and has heard the same from other people in the community.

“I can’t tell you how many times when people buy raffle tickets they say, ‘It’s just a great cause. I’m doing it because of the cause, if I happen to win the table, great,'” Allert said.

“I hear that all the time.”

According to Allert, Dave and Diana Stimac have always had a great love of animals and have taken them in to their home. But their generosity doesn’t just stop at the animal shelter, they have also donated to an arts center.

When Stimac first came to Allert with the offer of donating a table for the fundraiser, the CCHS was elated at the prospect, but didn’t think it would turn into something of a tradition.

“We never dreamed he would continue doing this,” she said. “We thought it was a one-time thing and then next year he said, ‘Okay, let’s do this again.’ It’s been an annual thing ever since.”