Volunteering a full-time job for this animal shelter facilities manager

Jeff Roels uses his diverse skills to help the growing Sumter facility

LAKE PANASOFFKEE, Fla. – Jeff Roels, a volunteer facilities manager at YOUR Humane Society SPCA, is this week’s News 6 Getting Results Award winner.

Stop by the Sumter County animal rescue just about any time and there’s a good chance that Roels
will be working somewhere on the property.

“I think I’m making a difference, he said. “Every day, we see a little improvement, something
gets done and it improves the dogs' and cats' lives.”

News 6 was there as Roels started the installation of a new misting system in the dog kennels. As he walked between the newly renovated dog area, carrying a handful of PVC pipes, the animals barked and jumped.

"They see me out here and they think they're going to come out and play," said Roels, who seems to know the name and story behind each one. "What they need is a home. They need a loving home to go to."

Despite having plenty of projects to complete, Roels said he always has time to visit with the animals, saying they're the reason he's there. 

“I knew we needed a pitch on the roof so we could get the rain water away,” said Roles, pointing to the metal roof he helped design so airflow would cool the dogs.

The project is just one of many he's undertaken in his four years of volunteering. 

Others said Roels routinely works more than 40 hours a week, doing everything from lawn care to
overseeing construction and building upgrades.

The retired federal law enforcement officer said he always loved animals and knew he would one day figure out a way to work with them. After retiring to The Villages, he decided to volunteer, helping walk the dogs. He quickly realized there was plenty more to do at the shelter.

“It’s more than just taking a dog for a walk or cleaning out the cat box,” Roels said. “I said, 'Who does all the extra work? The trimming of trees, digging ditches?' They said, well, we don’t have anyone. I said, 'Well, now you do!'"

Roels was nominated by friend and fellow volunteer Dan Mercuri.

"Jeff is always here," Mercuri laughed. "He does everything here and I just thought he needed some recognition. It impressed me and I just had to do something."

YOUR Humane Society SPCA Executive Director Joe Sprague said volunteers like Roels keep the no-kill shelter going.

"If you have a passion for the animals, you do whatever it takes to make sure they're happy," he said. "Jeff definitely has that passion."

YOUR Humane Society SPCA is looking to hire a paid maintenance worker to help Roels. Roels said he's looking forward to spending a little more time working on his golf swing.

"Last year, I golfed twice and I live in a golfing community," he laughed, adding that helping has given him a sense of satisfatcion. "They couldn't pay me. This is me giving back. It makes me feel good that I'm doing something for the animals."


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