I have to thank my mother for granting me with a name that 99% of people know how to pronounce; the 1% mostly being elderly southern ladies who sweetly address me as "Say-ruh" or as my dear friend Peggy teased, "Say-ree". Most folks get the spelling right too, minus the standard "with an H or without an H?" It is "with" for the record.
Not all names are so common though. Take "Albrecht" for example, the name our organization acquired a few years ago when moving from Wire Road to Willow Run Road and transitioning from the "Aiken SPCA" to the "SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare".
Albrecht is pronounced "All-brekt", and it's a German name meaning "noble" or "bright", two words that accurately reflect the admiration we feel for our namesake, the Albrecht family. The Albrecht's are a local family who are committed to advancing the future of animal welfare in our community, and they have generously contributed to the building of our new, amazing facility and continue to invest in our mission.
We changed our name not just as a tribute to the Albrecht's remarkable support, but also because we are helping families and pets far outside the boundaries of Aiken County. We collaborate with folks in Edgefield, Saluda and McCormick. People from Augusta and even Columbia drive up for events and veterinary care. Our animals have been adopted by people from North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Canada and even Australia!
We did retain the "SPCA" portion of our name though, because people usually recognize the acronym, which, in case you're not aware, means Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and it's a term commonly associated with animal welfare.
There is a downside to keeping with the familiar though. We have met and spoken with several well-meaning people who are happy to let us know that they are proud ASPCA supporters and thank us for helping the poor animals in those sad commercials on television. You know, the ones with the heart-wrenching Sarah (also with an "H"!) McLachlan music and photos and videos of neglected and abused animals needing your help.
Unfortunately, we have to inform these people that while their generosity is well-placed, their money is not coming to our organization nor is it helping the animals in our care. The ASPCA, or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is a large organization based in New York and our organization is not a subsidiary, affiliate or local branch of that organization. We are completely separate organizations.
While we are eligible, as many animal welfare organizations are, to apply for grant opportunities from the ASPCA, we do not receive any regular funding from their organization, and we definitely do not receive donations sent to them, even donations from local people intending to donate to our organization.
Please understand that I am not trying to dissuade you from supporting the ASPCA. They are a well-established, highly reputable organization doing amazing things for animals. I'm just urging you to pay close attention to the name, and the address for that matter, of the organization you donate to, and make sure you are, as intended, helping a local organization and not one 800 miles away.
Get to know us, if you don't already. Visit us at 199 Willow Run Road, in Aiken, or online at www.LetLoveLive.org. See for yourself all the ways we're helping animals and people in and outside of our community and then decide for yourself where and how you'd like to support the cause. Adopt, spay/neuter, volunteer or donate - it's all for the animals.
Sarah Neikam is the Communications & 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.