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Cheers! How a local nonprofit is raising a glass to support animal rescue groups

  • Written by Kirsten Abel, Features Writer

A new local nonprofit called Grapes, Paws & Hops Foundation is providing full service pro bono event planning and fundraising to area animal shelters and rescue groups.

Tanya Winfrey, the organization’s founder, has always had a deep love of animals. “I grew up with all the women in my family bringing in the stray animals I would find,” she said.

DogGrapes, Paws & Hops’ first fundraising event will benefit Motley Zoo, a Redmond organization that rescues and re-homes cats and dogs. (Photos courtesy of Grapes, Paws & Hops)Currently, Winfrey owns a blind pit bull named George and two cats named Elaine and Cleo.

But beyond her passion for furry creatures, Winfrey also has a great deal of professional experience. She works as an accountant for an animal shelter and owns her own wedding and event planning business, called Tanya Marie Design and Event Planning.

When thinking about how to make a difference in the animal shelter world, Winfrey decided to combine her passion and her areas of expertise.

“My specialty was to go more toward fundraisers,” she said. “I just decided to go crazy and start the nonprofit myself.”
Winfrey recruited five people for the nonprofit’s board of directors: Cheryl Gilbert (board chairman), Sara Price (vice board chairman), Jenn Ennis Bollen (secretary), Suanne Nagata (treasurer) and Taylor O’Brien (board member).

Grapes, Paws & Hops’ first fundraising event is a dog-friendly beer and wine festival on September 10, 2017 at Marymoor Park.
The event will benefit Motley Zoo Animal Rescue in Redmond and a local pit bull rescue, yet to be determined. Motley Zoo is not a shelter, but instead takes in animals and finds homes for them in foster care while they wait to be adopted.

For an animal shelter to host a large fundraising event on their own, it can cost $10,000 to $15,000, Winfrey said. And that’s on top of their already steep operating costs.

According to Jme Thomas, Motley Zoo’s executive director, it costs about $550 for every animal the organization takes in. Extreme cases can be even more expensive. The organization adopts cats out for $150 and dogs out for a maximum of $450.
“We lose money on every animal we adopt out,” Thomas said. “We average about $15,000 in vet bills each month.” Fundraising is often what keeps organizations like Motley Zoo going.

Aside from fundraising goals, Thomas said she also hopes the event helps people to integrate “rescue” into their lives. That could mean adopting a dog, meeting other people with rescue animals, or learning more about becoming a foster parent of a dog or cat in need.

Dogs will be available for adoption at the event and off-leash areas will be open for owners to let their own dogs run free.
Breweries and wineries will be serving from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and food trucks will be serving from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Advance tickets on sale until April 30 cost up to $40 for both beer and wine tastings. Admission includes a tasting glass and ten tasting tokens.

“We always enjoy these kinds of events,” Thomas said. “They are some of the best ones to volunteer at and the best ones to attend.”

Grapes, Paws & Hops is still looking for sponsors and volunteers for the fundraiser. Donations can be made to Motley Zoo and to Grapes, Paws & Hops leading up to the September event online and at the event in person. To donate or find out more information, visit Grapes, Paws & Hops’ website at gphfoundation.org and Motley Zoo’s website at motleyzoo.org.

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