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Laura Pennington, 2023 Activist of the Year

Updated: Apr 22

Laura Pennington, 2023 Activist of the Year

Our 2023 FVA Activist of the Year, Laura Pennington, exemplifies true dedication and compassion for animals. She is a kind and gentle person, who cares about people and is quick to help others when asked. Laura has also helped at tabling events, such as the Eco Fest at MOSI last April, and at our largest annual event, Tampa Bay Veg Fest (TBVF).

Laura spoke at several public hearings last year, something new to her and her comfort level. Her contributions, speaking at both Hillsborough and Pasco County Commissioners meetings about the retail sale of rabbits, were greatly appreciated and helped to make a difference. Her words and stories were passionate and moving. Commissioners listened, we all listened. Speaking out makes a difference. After several public hearings both counties banned rabbit sales. I believe that testimony and stories like hers contributed to the success of these campaigns.

Laura also participated in the annual Lobby for Animals Day, coordinated by ALDF and HSUS in Tallahassee. Never having done this before, but now having some experience speaking about local ordinances, she was willing to go alone to Tallahassee and speak out. Just a few days before leaving, she contacted me about taking this trip. Thankfully, I was able to join her. It was wonderful to see her do an amazing job during the meetings with legislative aides.

Laura and her husband Ron both helped at last year’s volunteer workday at the Little Cat Rescue, in New Port Richey. Other ongoing FVA activities that this dynamic duo have participated in include our quarterly Al Lopez Park cleanups. FVA adopted Al Lopez Park in Tampa over 10 years ago, and we have been doing regular cleanups there ever since. Laura and Ron have attended almost every single cleanup!

FVA, also adopted a Feral cat colony in the same park. Our activist of the year has been a feeder for these sterilized cats for many years. The feeding and medical care is coordinated by Tom Bird, a former FVA board member and current Advisory member, who makes sure we have feeders every single day. This is true commitment, and our cat feeders are vital. We could always use some extra help here.

Laura has done a lot of volunteer work for FVA, but one the biggest contributions both her and Ron have made is being amazing TBVF volunteers. Both attended most of the volunteer planning meetings and committed to helping in multiple areas. They helped with setup duties for several hours the day before, tabling on the day of the event, and then helped with the tedious job of breakdown at the end of the day. If that wasn’t enough, they were event sponsors by donating funds to help with our free vegan food samples area.

Laura was selected as our 2023 Activist of the Year for her incredible help throughout the year. She exemplified sheer unselfish dedication to helping animals, humans, and the environment. We also recognized Ron with Honorable Mention, for helping with many of the park cleanups, Little Cat Rescue volunteer workday, sponsoring TBVF, and his huge help with set up and breakdown.

Laura and her husband Ron are everywhere helping FVA. They are inspirational human beings, and we are very fortunate to have them volunteer with us. After presenting their awards, we became aware of another amazing project that Laura has helped with. She helped her son, who is currently in Cambodia, sterilize an entire colony of feral cats there!

-Myriam Parham

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