Volunteer Feature: Bob Batcher
Board member Nicole Pellegrino recently caught up with former board member Bob Batcher to learn more about his passion for animals and humans at Norfolk Animal Care Center. His dedication to animal welfare and board service was commemorated earlier this year with a plaque adjacent to the dog area of the Center.
Bob and Nicole strolled through the Center, resisting the urge to adopt every playful kitten, demure bunny and woefully cute dog, before digging a bit deeper into what makes this City of Norfolk “Curmudgeon” (self-proclaimed) tick.
How did you come to know NACC and eventually FNACC?
Over twelve years ago, I was the PR guy for the City of Norfolk when the Police Department was running the Center. I was responsible for changing the shelter’s image from a “dog pound” to a place where people came to adopt animals. I realized we needed to take a collaborative approach and cultivate a relationship with the Norfolk SPCA. They had just painted their building and gave me their remaining colors. I came to our Center and just started putting paint on the walls! The thought was to make the Center more visually appealing to the public. Since then, the City has figured out how to improve the Center operations, and it has grown!
Fast forward a few years, and I was actually recruited to come on the board as the PR guy from the City. The board had so many passionate people, but everyone had strong opinions. We concluded that we had to put the animal’s needs first and create a mission that put them in the spotlight. I have seen our marketing efforts grow from a few enthusiastic people to over 20 – allowing us then to participate in more events, pouring beer at Norfolk Festevents in Town Point Park and getting our name in the public eye.
How long did you volunteer and serve as a board member? What roles did you perform?
I served on the board for 11 years, the biggest chunk during my time with the City of Norfolk. Then I retired, got rid of all my ties and started wearing happy socks instead. I have served on the marketing committee and as an emcee at events.
Share a fond memory during your time on the FNACC board.
Our first Dogtoberfest at O’Connor’s was such a fun event. We didn’t know what to do, but we ordered the beer glasses to sell. If you come to my house, that is considered fine dining glassware. Then I ended up emceeing a dog costume contest and wearing lederhosen! They used to be the only brewery in town, and now there are so many, and they all want to have fundraisers with us!
What are you proudest of during your tenure?
It was essential to get the message out that adoption is a regional issue, and we were able to get donors from all over together and support wrapping the Tide light rail train when it was brand new. We pushed for adopting – not just from us – but from any shelter or rescue here. That was the epitome of us beginning to work together as a community, as a collaborative partnership.
What do you hope for the future of NACC/FNACC?
In post-COVID times, people are looking to become connected. At PrimePlus, we talk about how to build a safe, respectful and inclusive community in today’s world. That is a lesson I learned through getting involved in the board.
I hope we can continue to create an environment that works toward a common goal of creating a safe, respectful, inclusive environment that allows us to come together with the greater community. It is cool to hear people ring the bell when we are out at events (for making a donation), knowing that people will give what they can afford for the animals lovingly.
Let’s keep ringing the bell.