Behind the Scenes with Worcester Animal Rescue League and Country Bank

Lisa Condit, on the far left, stands next to a dog mascot. Kristin Mullins and Jodie Gerulaitis hold a giant $1,000 donation from Country Bank to Worcester Animal Rescue League.

Lisa Condit and Ashleigh Prince spoke with Jodie Gerulaitis from Country Bank and Kristin Mullins from Worcester Animal Rescue League about CATS, Country Bank’s donation, the Rescue League’s catio and more. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.

Lisa: Thank you all for listening to Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre. This is Lisa Condit and I am so excited to be here with some of my very favorite people. We’ve got Kristin Mullins, who is the Executive Director of the Worcester Animal Rescue League, a non-profit very near and dear to my heart, and Jodie Gerulaitis, the Vice President of Community Relations with Country Bank, who I am thrilled is getting involved with us as a sponsor of CATS, which is coming to The Hanover Theatre March 3 – 6. We found a way to tie it all together and bring awareness, excitement and vitality to everything. I think it really starts with Country Bank making a wonderfully generous donation to the Worcester Animal Rescue League for $1,000 to help launch the campaign to raise money for the catio at Worcester Animal Rescue League. That ties in to our February Cat Health Month and of course, CATS coming to The Hanover Theatre. Ladies, welcome!

Jodie: Thank you for having us.

Lisa: Jodie, I think that your title is so perfect for so much of what Country Bank has to do with their partnerships, with The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory and other community organizations. Why don’t you tell us why this was an exciting thing for you to get involved with and why you decided to make a donation the Worcester Animal Rescue League?

Country Bank's mascot Buck, a big brown dog with a green vest and cap, is standing alongside Kristin Mullins and Jodie Gerulaitis. Kristin and Jodie are holding a Country Bank $1,000 bill photo prop.
Country Bank’s mascot Buck, Kristin Mullins and Jodie Gerulaitis

Jodie: This is so exciting, not only for the fact that Broadway is coming back, shows are starting up again and it’s just an exciting time for all of us to look forward to being together again, but also, I had to educate myself on what a catio is, which is so exciting. It just seems like the perfect fit to tie the Worcester Animal Rescue League into us promoting and sponsoring the, you know, the performance of CATS. All of it is very exciting for us, but giving back is what we love to do. Having it impact so many just really puts a smile on our faces for sure.

Lisa: Us too. Kristin, what is a catio?

Kristin: I’m glad you asked. Well, first of all, I certainly wanted to thank you both for your time today. I wanted to extend, on behalf of everyone here at the Rescue League, our gratitude to Jodie and everyone at Country Bank for your very generous donation of $1,000. That is going to go to support the meows – the kitty cats – here at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, thank you so much. Because you asked, I’m happy to share what a patio is. The catio is an outdoor enclosure where one can safely house cats. Here at the Rescue League, we don’t have an outdoor area right now where we can sit your cat. We have our beautiful indoor kennels, but as you all know, cats also like to be outside and experience the sun and the fresh air. We would like to offer them that enrichment in a safe manner. Our long term goal has always been to build a catio on the side of the shelter, which would extend our cat housing area where the cats can then have a lovely area where they can go indoors and outdoors, lounge in the sun, get some rays and vitamin D and experience a little bit of outdoor living.

We’re super excited to be able to take this generous donation from Country Bank and be able to use it as a as a wonderful platform to start to look at making that dream a reality.

Kristin Mullens, Worcester Animal Rescue League

Lisa: One of the questions I had for you when we started talking about the catio a while a while ago is, how much does a catio cost?

Kristin: That’s a good question, and one that we are actually in the process of starting to answer. The catio basically will take up about half of the side of our shelter, so it’s a pretty large area. From what we’ve been told, it could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, so that’s roughly what we’re looking at and that’s been the estimate that we’ve been given thus far.

Lisa: It’s really exciting that we have such a great jumpstart on the final construction of a catio. I have to say, if any of you have been to a shelter or the Worcester Animal Rescue League, you know that those animals are so precious and some of them spend a long time before they find their forever homes. The ability to breathe fresh air is so important for every living being. I love the idea that, especially for some of the harder-to-adopt cats, that they’ll have the opportunity to be able to breathe fresh air. I think that it’s long overdue, but, of course, everything depends on funds, money, enthusiasm and excitement. As we know, February is Cat Health Month, so we’ve now had a great start to raising the money that’s needed to complete the catio at the Worcester Animal Rescue week. How can people make donations in case they’re interested in helping to support that?

Country Bank's mascot Buck, a big brown dog with a green vest and cap, is standing next to the CATS Banner with his arms up in excitement.
Country Bank’s mascot, Buck

Kristin: We’d love that! They can make donations securely on our website, which is Worcesterarl.org, and there is a donate page. Our website is currently under construction, so stay tuned for a new live website that will be coming soon. The link to the donate page is still active, so those donations made online are made securely. They can also contact the Rescue League to donate, I’m happy to talk to anyone about any donations they would like to make in order to be applied to the catio or any of our other programs. They can also send a check in or they could call with their credit card, there are multiple ways that people can donate to us and we certainly welcome them all.

Jodie: Lisa, we hope this donation inspires others as well. Country Bank was honored to step up and that’s why we do what we do. It’s all about inspiring others. Hearing about this, you actually had me tearing up because you’re right, everybody deserves fresh air, and to know that any dollar amount would make such a huge difference for this incredible project. I just also wanted to thank you both for the difference that you make in our communities, so thank you.

Lisa: Jodie, I was about to say thank you, because Country Bank is a special organization. Yes, fresh air is important to all of us, especially if you’re from the more central part of the state. Country Bank has done a phenomenal job just really remaining true to its roots of small business banking, I know that from being in this community for as long as I have. You guys are really stepping up every time we ask you about something. Tell us a little bit more about how Country Bank gets involved and how people can find out more about Country Bank.

Jodie: We not only talk the talk, we walk the walk! It’s one of my favorite things, giving back is truly who we are and it’s part of our core.

Anytime an opportunity comes up like this, Country Bank loves to step in and help out, whether it’s through volunteerism or whether it’s through donations.

Jodie Gerulaitis, Country Bank

Jodie: Our communities are the backbone to who we all are, so if we can help support them in any way, we look for those opportunities. If you’d like to learn more about Country Bank, we are on all social media channels, and our website is countrybank.com. If you’d like to learn more about our locations or different products that we have, that’s where you can find that information out.

Lisa: That’s awesome. All of this is really coming back to what inspired us when we were thinking about CATS, which is really the funny part about the whole thing. CATS is coming in to The Hanover Theatre March 3 – 6, and we’re thinking about how we can really let the “memory” live again and bring Broadway to new audiences. It’s all about getting out there in the community. Ashleigh is here too, and she has this really interesting and awesome fun partnership and event that’s coming up prior to CATS at The Hanover Theatre, again, March 3 – 6. Why don’t you tell us what’s happening at Quite Fetching? I think that people would love to know about that, too.

Country Bank's mascot Buck, a big brown dog with a green vest and cap, is standing alongside Lisa Condit, Kristin Mullins and Jodie Gerulaitis. Kristin and Jodie are holding a Country Bank $1,000 bill photo prop.
Lisa Condit, Country Bank’s mascot Buck, Kristin Mullins and Jodie Gerulaitis

Ashleigh: Absolutely! I just want to say that I think that Bustopher Jones, Old Deuteronomy and Mr. Mistoffelees would be huge fans of the catio — just saying! This show is about all these cats starting a new life, and that’s what getting adopted is all about. We are so excited to be partnering with Quite Fetching Barkery for a special little CATS event on Sunday February 27 from 1 – 3. We’re going to be in the store where you can get cat charcuterie boards, cat wine and some toys for your kittens. We’ll have some photo up with some backdrops and we’re really excited to be partnering with this new pet bakery!

Lisa: I love the fact that Broadway, musicals and theatre brings groups of people together and we’re going to be able to do that safely again with each other coming really soon. I do want to remind everybody that we do require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test when you do come to The Hanover Theatre, and we have got great deals for groups where groups can save anywhere between $10 to $15 per ticket. Visit our website TheHanoverTheatre.org, we would love to see you at the theatre. Jodie, Kristin, Ashleigh, thank you for your collaboration and all the fun things that we’re doing together. I can’t wait for us to do even more!