Concord Merrimack County SPCA receives $1 million gift from longtime donor
A rendering of the proposed new home of the Concord Merrimack County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The new Concord Merrimack County SPCA animal shelter will be named after Lyman Pope, who has pledged more than $1 million to the organization.
Pope, a Jackson resident and lifelong animal lover, has been visiting and donating to the Concord SPCA – and 37 other shelters in New England – for more than a decade.
“They badly needed the money to get their shelter built, and they had raised quite a bit, but they needed some more to get over the top and start building,” he said.
Pope has donated $525,000 toward the construction of the new shelter, at the corner of Clinton Street and Silk Farm Road in Concord. That sum nearly completes the nonprofit’s more than $2 million capital campaign for the new building. But Pope’s gift, announced yesterday, includes an additional $500,000 pledge that the organization will receive after his death.
Heather Faria, the organization’s executive director, said the donations are “transformational” for the SPCA, which now operates out of a converted chicken coop in Penacook and has long worked toward building a better shelter.
“It’s not only about getting into a new home, but it’s about having a sustainable future,” Faria said.
The Concord shelter will become the third named in Pope’s honor; shelters in Orleans, Vt., and Rockland, Maine, already have his name.
Pope, 85, is retired from owning real estate in Maine and New Hampshire. (His sons now run the family business.) In 2000, he established the Lyman Pope Jr. Foundation and dedicated it to helping animal shelters in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.
Pope, who owns a German Shepherd, said he became interested in animal shelters because they “badly need help.”
“And their directors do the best they can with a very difficult job,” he said.
Faria said she met Pope shortly after she became executive director of the Concord Merrimack County SPCA in 2009. He was interested in helping dogs that suffer from Lyme disease, and gave the shelter a grant to test for it. Since then, the two have kept in touch and talked about the need to replace the old shelter in Penacook, which was too small for the SPCA’s needs.
“There was never a conversation where the fact that we need a new home didn’t come up,” Faria said. “He brought it up as often as I did.”
Construction has already begun on the new facility, and Faria said she hopes to move into the building early next year.
The SPCA still hopes to raise $250,000 to complete its capital campaign. The organization has raised $2.1 million to date, including Pope’s donation.
“We’re just hopeful that people, once they understand that the building’s really happening, that they’ll help us get the rest of the way,” Faria said.
Ruth Coneys, the SPCA’s board president, thanked Pope in a release for “making our dream of a new home a reality.”
Pope praised the organization’s project in the press release announcing his gift.
“I know with this new shelter the SPCA will be able to save more lives and take much better care of the dogs,” he said. “The place in Penacook is just awful. I am happy to be involved and look forward to seeing it built.”