Volunteer Is Dedicated To Caring For People And Animals

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Since retiring, Severna Park resident Janet Lindsay has dedicated her spare time to serving her community in many capacities. From animals to women in prison, there is no one she won’t help.

Lindsay and her family attend Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, where she has volunteered with the Meals on Wheels and Winter Relief programs. After working with the church for many years, Lindsay felt called to work with animals and in prison ministry.

Lindsay was trained with an international organization, the Trauma Healing Institute, and connected with a female chaplain at the Anne Arundel County Department of Detention to minister to female prisoners.

“It's a Christian-based program that helps people understand why they’ve made some of their decisions in life,” Lindsay said. “Some of it leads back to some trauma, so we help them work through it. We help them understand that it doesn't make them a bad person.”

Lindsay said that she works hard to relate to the woman that she meets within the prison, as many of them just need a support system.

“It really opens your eyes to how resilient the human spirit can be and how damaging we can be to one another,” Lindsay said.

Two years ago, Lindsay was trying to find somewhere to work with animals when a friend suggested Anne Arundel County Animal Care and Control. Now, Lindsay volunteers a minimum of 16 hours a month at the shelter.

In Anne Arundel County, Animal Care and Control is an agency of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, which means many of the animals are in the shelter for protective custody.

“Many of the animals are in because someone is ill or incarcerated, so you never really know,” Lindsay said. “You’re taking care of other people’s animals who really need the care. They’re coming from homes and going into this new environment that they don't understand.”

Lindsay primarily assists with dog-walking and cleaning cages. She has also assisted with the shelter’s frequent live videos, which were started during the COVID-19 lockdown as a way to show off the animals without having people visit. Animal Care and Control is letting people in by appointment only, so the live videos help people look for their lost animals, or see the animal’s personality before committing to take it home. Though her primary focus is taking care of the animals, Lindsay said that she enjoys working with the animals to clear her head.

“It's kind of a mediation of sorts when you’re walking the dogs,” Lindsay said. “You get some fresh air, you get some exercise and you have a tail wagging because they are excited that someone is paying attention to them. It's very freeing from all of the nonsense we deal with every day.”

She also fosters cats and dogs from the shelter. She has fostered a few puppies, one of which was adopted by her neighbor, two litters of kittens and paired two elderly cats with elderly women.

“It's an enriching experience, and generally you get to see who they go to, and so it's very rewarding,” Lindsay said. “There's always a picture of the adoptee and the animal.”

While the prison ministry has been paused and less volunteers are allowed at Animal Control because of the pandemic, Lindsay found another opportunity to serve her community. She had been donating to the West Annapolis Pop Up Pantry, when a friend asked if she would consider delivering groceries.

Two days a week, Lindsay filled her car with groceries and delivered milk, eggs, canned food, diapers and more to families who were struggling to make ends meet.

“Sometimes you don't have to go very far to find people who are struggling, and sometimes they don't have a support system,” Lindsay said.

Though she would not admit it, Lindsay has made a lasting impact in the community with both humans and animals alike. While many people spend their retirements relaxing, she has been working hard to make the community a better place.

“There are not a lot of things, physically, that I need right now,” Lindsay said. “As you get older, your needs become less materialistic. My fulfillment comes more from making the world a better place. It's not always in a big way, but sometimes the littlest things you can do for someone makes a difference in how they treat the next person.”

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