My wife and I have been supporters and contributors to Santana's Hope 4 Paws since Rosemary Woodard created the organization in 2015. Originally the purpose of the organization was to raise money to provide for the health, care and feeding of unwanted dogs.
Rosemary, her husband, Brian, and volunteers have rescued and saved the health and lives of many more than 100 dogs and found homes for them. For six years, they have provided shelter, health care, feeding and an adoption process for stray, abandoned, and mistreated dogs.
Rosemary has developed and is fortunate to have a group of good, caring people who foster dogs until adoption. When there are not enough foster homes available or there is an overflow at the pound, she and Brian care for the dogs. In 2016 Rosemary and volunteers had the pound shut down, the dogs removed housed in another facility, and began cleaning the Steelville Dog Pound.
Also in 2016, they paid to have the pound floor cleaned and resurfaced for the health and safety of the dogs. At the same time, all the walls and wire enclosures were cleaned and painted, and new food and water bowls provided. They understood how inadequate the pound was, so Rosemary had the idea for building a new pound and began the fundraising effort to accomplish that goal.
From the very beginning, our understanding was that the money we donated to Santana's Hope 4 Paws was being used by Rosemary for veterinary bills, to feed and care for dogs in the foster homes, at the pound and at her home. In addition, money was accumulating so that in the future the funds would help to build a new pound that, if maintained properly, would be a clean, safe and a healthy environment for dogs.
In the August 5th edition of the Steelville Star, we read the article "Steelville's animal shelter is finally under construction," by Amy England. We were surprised by three things in the article.
One, Mary Young, gave a cashier check to the city for $50,000. Two, it was evident in the story that Mary had separated herself from her association with Rosemary, and three, a number of statements from elected members of the city and employed staff for the city stating with confidence that no funds had been received from Santana's Hope 4 Paws.
The mayor, council members, and the city comptroller could not possibly have been more extraordinarily wrong! But it was not their fault; that is what they believed to be true.
After reading the article, we wondered if our last donation to Santana's Hope 4 Paws part of was $50,000 that was given to the city by Mary. The answer is yes; yes it was, and that's a problem. When Rusty Young died, my wife and I made a sizeable donation to Santana's Hope for Paws in his memory. We believed the donation was going to Rosemary.
Santana's Hope 4 Paws was created by Rosemary and incorporated as 501c3 charitable organization in 2015. Her name is the only name on the legal document for the organization.
We sent our check made out to Santana's Hope 4 Paws. It was sent to a PO Box that is for Santana's Hope 4 Paws.
We received back an envelope with a return label indicating it was from Santana's Hope 4 Paws. Enclosed was a receipt for our donation. At the top of the receipt was a drawing of Santana and the words Santana's Hope 4 Paws, with the 501c3 number designated. And finally, a thank-you note from Mary Young thanking us for the donation. And in the context of the thank-you note, she states it is a thank you from Santana.
After reading the article, we called Rosemary. She had no idea that we had made a contribution to Santana's. And we learned our check was deposited in a Santana's Hope 4 Paws bank account at Peoples Bank on which Rosemary was not a signatory, never had access to the account and never received an accounting for any of the deposits made to the account.
I began asking questions.
I learned that, even though the idea of raising money to build a new pound was Rosemary's in 2016, and she and volunteers had worked tirelessly for all those years before and after Mary was involved, Mary did not tell her she was going to give the money to the city. And, evidently based on the article, Mary didn't mention that all the money was from Santana's Hope 4 Paws. Rosemary found out when someone called her after the cashier check was discussed at the council meeting. Imagine how surprised Rosemary was!
Remember the city council stated clearly that “no funds” had been received from Santana's. I repeat! It's not their fault.
Rosemary cares about dogs and people. She dislikes and is disorganized when it comes to managing money. In 2019, four plus years after the founding of Santana's, Mary volunteered to help Rosemary. She was not interested in the “hands-on” care for the dogs. Mary suggested that she could handle the finances and accounting for Santana's. Rosemary liked her, trusted her, and was grateful for the help.
Rosemary had the original bank account for Santana's, at Peoples Bank, where deposits were made and bills paid. Mary said she wanted to open a new Santana's account, at Peoples Bank. Mary said that all the donations for the future shelter should be directed to that one account so that donations to Mary's PayPal account from online fundraising could flow into the bank account as well as money from fundraisers like Rusty Young's Poco concert.
After Mary opened the new account, Rosemary gave her a check for $5,000 for the new account, a donation that Rosemary had received. Later, Rosemary received a donation of stock for Santana's, cashed it in and gave an additional $5,000 to Mary for the new shelter account. A PO Box was opened by Mary for Santana's Hope 4 Paws, where mailed donations would be directed. That PO Box was displayed on Santana's Facebook page.
For years, Mary collected and deposited all the checks in the account she had opened. She also deposited money dropped into all the Santana's collection boxes around Steelville. There were a few times over a two-year period where checks were received by Mary and at her discretion were determined to be designated for direct dog care, so the money was forwarded to Rosemary. The total was not very much.
Rosemary had no access to the PO Box, was not a signatory on the new bank account, had no access to any financial information and was never provided with an accounting. I make a logical assumption when I state that many, an unknown number of donations like the one my wife and I made, were intended to directly help Rosemary's efforts, and contribute toward the building of a new shelter. Every person who made a donation, large or small, from 2015 through July 2021 made it to Santana's Hope 4 Paws. This includes an untold number of grateful people over the years who could only afford to help by giving their pocket change or a dollar or two.
A summation: Rosemary founded Santana's Hope 4 Paws and incorporated a 501c3 in 2015. Rosemary had the idea to help build a new pound and began raising funds in 2016. Mary Young became a volunteer in 2019. Mary opened a bank account under the name Santana's Hope 4 Paws with Rosemary's 501c3 organization's designation. Mary was successful in helping to raise money for Santana's. Five to six months ago in the first part of 2021 Rosemary began requesting from Mary an accounting of deposits and what contributions had been made and from whom. In conversations with Mary, she received vague responses, but no accounting. She then called and left a message but received no call back.
Sadly, on April 14, Rusty Young died. Soon after, Mary left town for a couple of weeks. After Mary returned, she stopped answering Rosemary's calls or texts. On or about June 1, Mary closed the Santana's Hope 4 Paws account by having a cashier check drawn for $50,000 that was given to the city's comptroller for a new shelter. June the 7th was the council's meeting when the discussion took place that was reported in the newspaper.
There is a record of every deposit, the deposits from PayPal and other internet sources, cash and checks. All of that money was issued in a cashier check by Peoples Bank to Mary, who in turn then gave the money to the city. It has occurred to me that since all the donations that were given and deposited in a Santana's Hope 4 Paws 501c3 bank account that legally is Rosemary's organization that Rosemary may have a legal right to request an audit and full accounting of all deposits that were included in the cashier check drafted by the bank and given to the city. The bank may have a fiduciary responsibility to provide a full accounting to her.
But Rosemary doesn't want to do that. Rosemary, Brian, the volunteers, the foster families, my wife and I and I imagine all the by now hundreds of people who have donated over the years to Santana's want the new pound built. I think it is reasonable to conclude that an unaccountable and unknowable amount of money donated was intended to go to Rosemary's efforts to care for dogs. One thing that will never be known is how much she did not receive.
I have a suggestion for what I think is an equitable and ethical reaction and response to this event. When the new shelter building is completed, it be named Steelville's Santana's Hope 4 Paws Animal Shelter and a bronze plaque be placed outside the entrance that honors the contribution of Rosemary Woodard, Santana's Hope for Paws, Rusty Young and Mary Young, as well as the volunteers, foster families and donors.
Finally, Rosemary is still doing what she has been doing for six years—caring for dogs. She needs help now, and in the future. For the past years, she has been rescuing dogs with the use of money, primarily from checks sent directly to her home and out of her own pocket. She now has her own PO Box exclusively for Rosemary's Santana's Hope 4 Paws. If you want to help the address is, Santana's, PO Box 174 Steelville, MO 65565.
And, if the city has no objection, she would like to continue to help and donate needed items to the new shelter once it receives its new dog guests. Months ago, Rosemary began to buy and collect donations of items that will be needed for the new shelter. She has acquired, blankets, towels, dog collars, leashes, kitty litter, miscellaneous dog toys, new water and food bowls, and a 10 by 10 outdoor enclosure. She will continue to accumulate articles for the comfort and care of the animals until the new shelter is built and deliver the items at no charge to the city, as she has for years and would like to continue to do.