This is a printer-friendly version of an article from

10/19/2022 08:30 AM

Compassion, Community and Cats

Alkire Helps BCC Celebrate 25 Years
With help from dedicated volunteers like Guilford resident Allison Alkire, Branford Compassion Club (BCC) has been devoted to shoreline feline rescue for 25 years. Pam Johnson/Guilford Courier

With compassion, community, and cats, Branford Compassion Club (BCC) has now been devoted to shoreline feline rescue for 25 years, with help from dedicated volunteers like Guilford resident Allison Alkire.

“The anniversary to us is a big deal — 25 years!” says Allison. “We were officially formed in 1997. But our founders were involved in cat rescue — spaying, neutering, and trapping stray and feral cats — at least 10 years before that. Then they got to the point where they were able to coalesce enough volunteers and get enough support to put an organization together. And when the facility was opened in 2011, it was a really big step.”

Allison got her start as a “direct care” BCC volunteer about five years ago, shortly after she retired.

“I became a volunteer pretty much after my first visit! I started out doing direct care, which is really just cage cleaning, cleaning pans and trays, and feeding. It’s very rewarding. It’s a fun thing to do, and the cats are all great. It’s very satisfying to see them adopted — especially the ones that come in feral, become socialized, and go on to a happy home.”

About four years ago, Allison joined the BCC board as its secretary, bringing her years as a communications professional to assist.

“We try to get people with a variety of backgrounds so we can cover many areas. I do our newsletter and some of the database management and try to help out with marketing.”

She also takes a direct care shift twice a week, which currently means helping about 65 felines comfortably awaiting adoption. The Courier recently visited Allison at BCC’s Feline Rescue and Adoption Center, located at 2037 Foxon Road, North Branford.

“It’s nice here in the common area,” says Allison, as she’s greeted by Jersey Girl, a beautiful little tabby, and Logan, a super-fuzzy tuxedo-style gent.

“A lot of the cats are socialized, so they come to door and are curious when somebody new comes in. We’ve had cats like that who have been here a couple of years, and it’s always particularly rewarding to see them adopted. Otherwise, they settle in here.”

BCC felines are all spayed or neutered and have received any medical attention required, as well as all appropriate vaccinations.

With the help of local veterinary partnerships, BCC goes to great lengths to care for cats arriving in different states – including those in dire straits.

“We won’t turn away any animal as long as we have capacity in the shelter. We’ve had lots of cats that had to have medical treatment,” says Allison.

Dempsey likely tops the list as BCC’s most recent success story.

“Dempsey had a big wound on his neck. He'd been in a fight, but he was friendly, and the neighbors who had been feeding him called us to help. Now, he’s almost completely healed and will be able to be adopted.”

BCC adopts felines on a regular basis – approximately 25 per month — by appointment. Applications can be downloaded at

Celebrating BCC’s Silver Anniversary

As BCC secretary, Allison joined in the board’s effort to deliver an exciting, memorable silver anniversary gala for BCC, held Sept. 23 at Branford’s Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club. And boy, did she deliver for the sold-out event. Allison secured the night’s star, Grammy Award winner Julie Gold, of “From a Distance” fame, to entertain.

“She is cat lover and a cat rescuer,” says Allison, who has been an acquaintance of Gold’s, thanks to a mutual friend, for about 30 years. “When we were planning the gala, we knew we wanted to have someone that was going to draw a crowd. As soon as we asked her, she said she would be absolutely happy to do it.”

Contacted by the Courier, BCC president Margaret “Peg” Johnson also noted the gala gave BCC the chance to not only honor its “angel supporters” but also its founders.

“Friskie Wheeler, Eunice Lasala, and Ann Marie Lorello are the three original founders and Marilyn Kennedy, Perdita Norwood, and Joan Corcoran joined the cause shortly after,” says Peg.

Peg also thanks BCC’s current corps of 60 direct care volunteers and 12 feral feeders (who assist a handful of cats among seven colonies).

“What impresses me most about BCC is the dedication of our direct care volunteers and feral feeders,” says Peg. “They genuinely love the cats like their own and have set up their own Facebook page to share pictures, stories, and special moments with the cats. It reminds me of a bragging parent or grandparent showing off pictures of their kids or grand kids. It’s really very touching.”

BCC is equally grateful to its foster volunteers, Peg adds. At present, 28 fosters are assisting some 23 cats and kittens available for adoption.

When you put it all together, BCC is just an incredible organization, backed by a remarkable network of volunteers, adds Allison.

“We have over 150 people on our volunteer list,” says Allison. “And there’s always a need for more! On our website, you can download and submit a volunteer application. We’re pretty quick to respond!”

The website is also a great place to make an online donation to BCC, become a cat sponsor (monthly contributor) or learn more about what’s on the Wish List to help fill needs. Donating items can be as easy as ordering off Amazon and direct-shipping to BCC.

Finding Forever Homes

While kittens seem to find their way to forever homes more readily, there’s plenty to be said for adopting an older cat, says Allison. At her Guilford home, she currently counts two BCC felines, adopted as adult cats, among the family.

“Their personalities are a little more formed,” she says. “Whereas, with a kitten, it’s a little harder to tell. And they’re active! It’s like having little kids around!”

Whether its kittens or cats, BCC’s continued, successful adoption rate is thanks in large part to the help of postings volunteers make at BCC’s Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as other websites including , she says.

“People contact us because they may have a cat in mind they’ve seen on Petfinder or they just want to come and see all of the cats and make a selection that way.”

While BCC started out in Branford, it’s always been a program that’s supported feline rescue and adoption across many shoreline towns. With the help of social media, BCC’s feline adoption services now reach far beyond even those borders.

“People come to us from a wide range — Milford to Middletown, Westbrook, and Waterbury,” says Allison. “We have a couple of members who are really very active on social media, and that’s made a huge difference for us. We’ve learned if you can get those cat pictures out there, that’s what draws an audience.”