Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Paws and Claws Birthday Bash celebrates center’s anniversary

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Astry Rodriguez / The Daily Northwestern
The Paws and Claws community gathered to celebrate the nonprofit’s fourth anniversary on Friday.

About 150 community members gathered at a hall in Evanston to celebrate local animal rescue Paws and Claws Cat Rescue’s fourth birthday and its adoption center’s one-year anniversary Friday evening. 

Birthday Bash attendees included current fosters, adopters, donors, volunteers and those looking to adopt. The event was also a fundraiser for the center to care for the cats until they can find a “forever home,” according to the advertisement for the event. 

“It’s very inspiring that this many people from every different background all come together to help cats,” Cat Care Manager Sean Johnson said. “It’s just such a nice mix. Everybody’s socializing, and it really is a celebration of what we’ve done as an organization.”

Exactly one year before the Friday event, Paws and Claws organizers were unpacking boxes to move into their new cat adoption center, according to Ashlynn Boyce, the center’s founder and executive director. She founded the organization with her family at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent and save cats from abuse and suffering. 

She said the nonprofit’s success has been largely due to community support.

“We’re just making ends meet every month, we’re always looking for donors to help,” Boyce said. “We’re a nonprofit, so things are always in ebbs and flows, but overall, things have been really great. It’s really exciting.”

Tickets for the event, which cost either $35 or $40, gave attendees access to a buffet, vintage sale and other activities. 

The vintage sale consisted of donations from Paws and Claws supporters, including children’s books, board games, cup sets, plates, candles and other home decor. 

Evanston resident Cheryl Cohen adopted a cat from Paws and Claws a year ago. She said she attended the event to show her support for the rescue center that gave her a feline companion. 

Cohen said she donated to the vintage sale and was pleased to see the number of interested shoppers. 

“It’s fun, it’s very tasteful,” Cohen said. “The vintage sale is cool, and it’s interesting talking to new people.”

The celebration featured a caricature artist and denim jacket purchasing and decorating station for an additional price. A silent auction was set up near the center of the room, showcasing over 15 auction items like a Six Flags Great America trip and tickets to sports games and musical performances. 

There was also a merchandise table selling stickers, mugs, T-shirts — including a special birthday design to celebrate the anniversary — pins, necklaces, earrings and collars. All of the proceeds went to the center. 

Boyce said Paws and Claws has seen tremendous growth over the past year with the highest number of members, 90, joining its Paw Print Club last year. Because the organization is donation-based and primarily volunteer-run, events like Friday’s contribute to the nonprofit’s growth, she said. 

“We’ve grown our volunteer programs, we’ve added new staff,” Boyce said. “We’ve just really started to put down roots in a way that we haven’t before.”

At the entrance of the event hall was a canvas where people could write one word representing what Paws and Claws means to them. Some attendees wrote “community,” “love” and “hope.” A second canvas was displayed next to the first, allowing people to “leave their mark” with blue paint to create a community shared artwork that would be hung up at the adoption center.

Johnson, who was a veterinary technician, said it has been remarkable being able to apply his medical background to nonprofit and volunteer work. He said the center currently has over 250 volunteers and around 95 cats in its care, with about 60 in its foster network. 

He also said Paws and Claws is taking in 25 cats that are on euthanasia lists for spaces across Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. 

“It’s a normal thing to have a cat be absolutely terrified when it comes in,” Johnson said. “Because of our volunteers (who) socialize — and they help them build trust with people — in two weeks, three weeks, the cat is a social butterfly. It’s still such a special thing.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

Related Stories: 

Paws and Claws launches new fundraising programs, hopes to save more cats in the new year

Paws and Claws opens a cat adoption center, hopes to save more cats from euthanasia 

Everything Evanston: City Council Rapid Recap talks animal shelter, Dog Beach and a rooster

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