Last week as I was driving down Pine Log Road East, I found myself sitting at a red light at the intersection with Powderhouse Road, noticing something had changed. I grew up in the neighborhood just behind that intersection, so I knew it well, but now something was missing. As soon as I realized what it was, I felt a pang of sadness, and a hint of nostalgia. The trees were gone.
The small forest that I'd known since childhood was obliterated. Where there once stood several rows of perfectly aligned tall pines, there was now a large empty space of fresh dirt, the remains of roots that were buried for decades and the yellow machines of demolition that took it all away. Change in the name of progress.
I have a soft spot for trees. They have a quiet dignity and beauty that goes mostly unnoticed in the background of our lives, despite their enormous importance to our existence, not to mention all the history and change they've witnessed. Something that lives so simply and endures for so long deserves admiration.
I have soft spot for animals too. Especially animals in need. Working where I do, among so many needy animals, distancing myself is often necessary, but not always possible. A kitten I had grown quite fond of was adopted last week, and though finding homes for these animals is our goal, I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss. I'll miss her. More change, this time in the name of a better life.
"Change is the only constant in life." A Greek philosopher by the name of Heraclitus figured that out centuries ago, so knowing and expecting change is nothing new. And despite my musings above, change can be, and often is, a positive step forward.
Our organization has faced several changes since being established in 1935. There have been location and facility changes, from Banks Mill Road to Wire Road to Willow Run Road. A name change, from Aiken SPCA to SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Policy changes, program additions, expanded services, new board members, new staff members and lots of new volunteers. Not to mention all of the animals we've seen come and go; that change happens weekly, sometimes daily.
One thing that hasn't changed though, is our dedication to the animals in our care and our commitment to protect them, care for them, love them and give them a life worth living while they reside in our shelter as we prepare them for a successful transition into a forever home.
Every person who is part of this organization or who supports our mission, believes in our vision: to help animals that are homeless find homes, provide animals that are abused, sick, or in need with shelter and medical care, and promote the ideal that the unfailing love and devotion from an animal should be valued by all. That is most definitely a constant that will not change.
Get to know us, if you don't already. See for yourself how hard we work to ensure these animals are well cared for and loved. Ask any of us about our own pets or the animals we know here. Our passion for pets is hard to miss. It's the reason we're here, and it's the reason we'll continue to be here, though all the changes to come.
Are you looking for a positive change in your own life? Consider adopting a pet. You'll change their whole word for the better, and yours right along with it.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady.