When her old club’s membership began to dim, Dorothy Trehy didn’t let the light of volunteerism go out.
One of the founders of the East Greenwich Civic Club, and its final president in 1989-90, Trehy experienced some of the frustration of watching the changing times erode the membership of her group, which from 1977 to 1990 staged the Luminaria Caravan during holiday season as a fundraiser for numerous local organizations.
“We couldn’t find people willing to take office,” she says resignedly, remembering the days when the event would draw crowds to large houses, local churches and the former Royal Crest nursing home, now Atria Harborhill.
One of the beneficiaries of the EGCC, however, continues to offer Trehy an outlet for her volunteer efforts: the East Greenwich Animal Protection League.
And Sammy, a 10-year-old Pekingese lurking about the den at her 190 Westwood Drive, nods seemingly in appreciation, for he is an alumnus of the EGAPL.
Trehy, one of the co-founders of the EGAPL along with former Town Council president Marion Fry, has slightly better luck finding volunteers to work with her furry subjects, although leadership roles are still tough to fill.
“We have some young people, but most of them are working, so organizations like ours have trouble getting officers. We have people who don’t want to be officers but will volunteer for every fundraiser,” she says.
The league’s fundraisers include three annual bake sales at Warwick Mall and two rummage sales and a bazaar at Varnum Armory.
Then there are donors, including a Boston couple that recently donated $5,000.
“A lot of people come from out of state to adopt our animals,” Trehy says.
Complicating the league’s work is the town’s lack of an animal shelter, forcing it to pay for boarding the animals at Greenwich Bay Animal Hospital, 5732 Post Road, where adoptions are held on Sundays and the league stages its monthly meetings.
“A lot of these animals would be put to sleep otherwise,” Trehy says.
For years, the EGAPL has received $25,000 from the Town Council toward operations, which Trehy estimates will cost $110,000 this year. Budget cutbacks last year reduced the town’s donation by 25 percent.
“They realize we’re saving them a lot of money,” she says.
Meanwhile, Trehy enjoys knowing that the luminaria live on, albeit on a smaller scale, with events at Varnum House and the Stoneridge and Signal Ridge neighborhoods.
“Some beautiful houses were involved,” Trehy says of the EGCC’s events. “They’d always pick special houses, and the husbands would get tagged for hosting them. We’d have different churches every time, with music at each place. The high school would have pianists, soloists and choruses, and local florists donated flowers.”
From flowers to pets, the amount of effort needed to stage a successful event hasn’t shrunk,she says.
“It was a lot of work to put on the luminaria,” she says, without as much of the weariness usually associated with the word “work.”
For more information on the East Greenwich Animal Protection League, consult www.egapl.org .