Paula Marshall-Riese — known as P.J. to her friends — moved to Roswell in 2001 with her husband, George. Relocating from a small city in upstate New York by the name of Cortland, the need to move to New Mexico came from two reasons.
The first was wanting a much warmer climate in the winter because, after a while, the constant blanket of snow gets a bit tiring. The second was a desire to live in a place with lower taxes.
But Paula says visiting New York is still very much a part of her life.
“I usually go back twice a year to see my five children and many grandkids,” she said. “I’m hoping to do this again later this year because I miss them a great deal.”
Although Paula had worked in the manufacturing industry for 35-plus years, upon landing in Roswell, she attained her real estate license. She helped people find their perfect dwellings in Roswell until she retired from Century 21 in 2016.
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But that’s not where her need to aid others in finding a home came to an end. The only difference is that Paula moved on to save the fluffier, cuter creatures who also needed a fresh start.
“I began helping rescues in 2017, and have been helping Friends of Roswell Animals (FORA) for a while now,” Paula said.
FORA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of Roswell’s dogs and cats. Established in 2015 by a group of volunteers concerned about the welfare of the community’s companion animals, FORA saves the lost or abandoned critters who find themselves at Roswell Animal Control.
Paula and her friends pull the pets out of the shelter for FORA’s rescue partners, provide temporary foster care, take them to the vet for their initial or total medical care, and then take the pets to start their new lives with in-state or out-of-state rescue partners. They also rescue pets directly into the FORA program and find them loving homes right here.
“We transport the animals to Colorado bright and early on Saturday mornings, where many rescues from there find them great families,” Paula said.
But, like all charitable causes, FORA continues to look for help.
“We always need fosters to keep the animals until transport,” she said. “I help vet the dogs before they can go — getting them their exams and shots, helping with the laundry used on the FORA bus when needed, sanitizing the bus and cages, and whatever else I can do.”
Paula enjoys volunteering and is proud of the work she and her co-volunteers do.
“I love working with Roswell Animal Services at their adoption event when I can,” she said. “The last two have been online because of the virus. I also love working with other volunteers in setting up and accepting donations for tag sales, and then assisting on the sale day.”
This is one way to get money in the door in order to help rescue the cats and dogs in Roswell.
“Although we would like to have a tag sale soon, this virus makes it tough,” Paula said. “Finding a venue to store and hold the sale is not as easy as it used to be, but we are continuously working and we will get one together ASAP.”
She not only works to aid the animals, but she also has welcomed six dogs and three cats — all rescues — into the family.
“We live in the country, so they have plenty of room to roam,” Paula said.
Paula and her husband both have an extensive list of civic contributions.
“For 15-plus years, I have been a member of the Sunrise Optimist Club,” she said. “My husband is not an official member, but donates a great deal of his time to both the club and FORA.”
Paula says there are many fundraising events she enjoys volunteering for as part of the Optimist Club.
“I just love all the members of the club and the many things we do together,” she said. “The Poe Corn Basketball Tournament, held right after Christmas, is our biggest event,” Paula said. “But we also hold a pancake breakfast, the Fill-a-Basket grocery raffle, Krispy Kreme donut runs, and so much more. These are all held to raise funds for our Vern Stahl Memorial Scholarship awards given to local seniors every year.”
Since its conception, the club has awarded over $40,000 to both Roswell High and Goddard seniors. The Sunrise Optimist Club, as most know, is a valuable resource for Roswell. Not only do they raise funds for many youth projects, but they also add fun and excitement to their events that the entire community can experience.
When asking Paula what she would like Roswell citizens to know about her, she turns the spotlight back on the people and pets she cares for.
“FORA really needs those foster homes to help keep the animals until transport,” she said. “I also have to say that Sunrise Optimist always loves gaining new members. You will not be disappointed to volunteer your time to either one of these great places.”
Paula “P.J.” says to feel free to call her at 575-317-3103 for more information on either organization or search for them on Facebook.
“I really enjoy being a part of these organizations — groups who are truly dedicated — and working with these loving people who give so much time, money, sweat and often tears,” she said.