Nonprofit to host animal shelter fundraiser at Suffolk Theater

09/17/2014 8:00 AM |
Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter volunteers (from left) Richie Cox, Fred McLaughlin, Denise Lucas and Lindsay Reeve at Stotzky Park's Duke Dog Park Friday. They're holding tickets to the group's three-year anniversary benefit at Suffolk Theater planned for November. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter volunteers (from left) Richie Cox, Fred McLaughlin, Denise Lucas and Lindsay Reeve at Stotzky Park’s Duke Dog Park Friday. They’re holding tickets to the group’s three-year anniversary benefit at Suffolk Theater planned for November. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

They want to move the Riverhead Town Animal Shelter — and they want to move it now.

Volunteers from the nonprofit organization Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, which is led by front-woman Denise Lucas, are shifting their fundraising efforts into overdrive to renovate the future home of the town’s shelter — the Henry Pfeifer Community Center building in Calverton — as soon as possible. 

“The more money we raise the more beautiful the place will become,” Ms. Lucas said. ”We are grateful for every dollar.”

Riverhead MTAS will cover the cost of renovating the existing structure, while the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which currently operates the town’s shelter on Youngs Avenue, will cover the cost of building an addition onto the building.

Ms. Lucas said the plan is to remodel the building to create an area for cats and isolation kennels for cats and dogs receiving medical attention, as well as the necessary business offices — although an exact layout of the renovations has yet to be finalized.

The renovation is estimated to cost about $125,000, said Richard Cox of R.C. Construction of Riverhead, a volunteer who is helping Riverhead MTAS draw up its construction plans, which should be released within the month.

So far, the organization, which was started three years ago this month, has raised about $100,000 to put toward shelter costs, Ms. Lucas said. “Our goal is to raise about $25,000 more so we can be sure that our construction will be a huge success.”

So how do they plan to raise that kind of cash — and fast?

“We will be having a huge benefit,” she said. “We are hoping to get 500 people to come out.”

Planned for Nov. 29, the RMTAS fundraiser will be a nautical-themed dance party called “Voyage through the Decades” at Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead. Cocktails and food will be sold throughout the night.

The party will run from 7 p.m. to midnight, with music from the disco era of the ’60s and ’70s, progressing through the decades and ending with today’s popular radio hits. Impersonators including Marilyn Monroe, Cyndi Lauper, Gwen Stefani and even the late Joan Rivers will make appearances, she said.

Tickets are now on sale for $20 apiece. The idea is to make the event affordable for anyone in the community who wants to attend, Ms. Lucas said.

“I would rather make less money per event and be able to give more people an opportunity to attend,” she said. “This is a community project and everybody deserves to be a part of building something big in our community.”

Ms. Lucas said the organization “is ready to start construction now,” and is waiting on town approval to get to work.

Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten said that before construction can begin, the town is awaiting a Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, as the building lies within the protected boundaries of the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, which restricts what can be done on the property. He said he and other town officials will soon be meeting with state DEC officials.

“I hope to begin work at the Pfeifer Center within the next month or two,” he said. “We are close to getting the permit.”

Tickets for the benefit can be purchased at www.RMTAS.org.

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