Volunteer Profile: Liz Collins
by Lee Chambers
If you are looking for Liz Collins at Dakin and she isn’t at the door greeting people, check the laundry where you may find her creating order from the never-ending piles of chaos created by Dakin activities. Liz has an impressive resume at Dakin. She has served as secretary to the Board of Directors since 2009, represents Dakin at community events throughout the Valley, and serves as a greeter. She also served on the search committee for the executive director’s position. Of her board tenure she says, “We’ve seen many changes at Dakin—all of them good!”
Liz began volunteering with MSPCA in 2002 as a dog walker. That organization closed its Union Street, Springfield, facility, in 2009. When it was reopened by Dakin later that year, Liz was ready to sign up. When the new position as greeter opened up, Liz wasn’t sure that she would enjoy focusing more on people than dogs. But clearly she enjoys her role. In addition to her greeter shifts on Tuesdays and Saturdays, she often comes in early to do laundry or retrieve phone messages from the answering machine.
“We see all the extremes, from the excitement of people coming in to adopt, to the grief of surrendering or bringing an animal in to be euthanized,” she says. She feels she can bring empathy to this work since she has had to make the difficult decision to euthanize 10 of her own dogs over the years.
Liz shares her Springfield home with husband, Brian Banks, a retired attorney who volunteers at Thomas J. O’Connor Adoption Center, and three four-legged companions: Kris, a 9-year-old border collie mix; Addie, a 15-year-old chihuahua with a heart murmur who is Liz’s lap dog; and Kira, a 5-year-old pit bull mix who visits nursing homes with Brian. All three are TJO rescues. She says pit bulls and chihuahuas have a special place in her heart and notes that they lost a pit bull in January and had adopted Dolly, a chihuahua mix from Dakin with mammary gland tumors who lived another three years with them.
Liz’s humane work extends far beyond Dakin. She and Brian are active in Western Mass. Animal Rights Advocates (WMARA), a local non-profit grassroots organization working to increase awareness about animal cruelty. The couple also worked to end greyhound racing in Massachusetts, a cause they are now championing in Florida where they also own a home. That decision will be up to Florida voters in November. She notes that they had adopted three rescue greyhounds and she finds it gratifying to see how few of them are now looking for homes since racing was stopped.
After 33 years working with a federal court judge, Liz recently retired, a life change giving her more time at Dakin. “I love being here,” she says, “the people, the animals—I like to feel I’m doing some good.”
Thanks to Marianne Gambaro for contributing this story. Marianne is a published poet and manages her husband Jim's fine art photography business. Learn more about her at margampoetry.wordpress.com