Bonnie Buckmore ’13, ’17 has a deep love and connection with dogs.
When she’s not working as Thomas College’s Database Administrator, she spends most of her free time volunteering with a small, no-kill shelter in Clinton, Maine, called Charley’s Strays.
Bonnie and her husband, Todd, adopted one of their dogs from Charley himself back in the early 90s – and their current pup, Bridget, chose them ten years ago.
The shelter does not receive any assistance from the town or the state and is run by one part-time, paid staff person and a handful of volunteers. There is no building to house cats, so they are fostered with a volunteer in China, Maine.
Bonnie helps Charley’s with raising money and community awareness, gathering in-kind donations, and taking photos for their website and Facebook page to help get the animals adopted. She’s also affectionally known as the treat lady; every time she visits the shelter, she distributes treats to the dogs.
“Being able to utilize my skills to help animals waiting for forever homes and those who, through no fault of their own, will live out the rest of their lives at Charley’s fills my heart with joy,” said Bonnie. “My husband and I do not have children; our dogs have always filled that spot in our family. While I cannot bring them all home with me, I can do my best to keep their bellies full and make sure they feel loved and not forgotten.”
Bonnie has worked at Thomas College for 7 ½ years. As a high school student, she had dreamed of attending Thomas. Nearly three decades later, she got a second chance to fulfill that dream as an employee here.
In 2013, Bonnie earned an Associates degree in Business Administration and was chosen to be the Commencement speaker representing the Continuing Education Division.
“As someone with a fear of public speaking, accomplishing that in front of a couple thousand people was undoubtedly my proudest moment,” she said.
While finishing that degree, Bonnie discovered she had triple-negative breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.
“After undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and taking three session off from classes, I forged ahead and earned Bachelor’s degrees in both Business Administration and Human Resource Management in 2017.”
Bonnie said she loves working at Thomas College because of the community it serves, and the people she works with.
“Working in the Advancement Office allows me to play a small role in helping first-generation students like me get an education and earn a better living,” said Bonnie. “Beyond the big picture, I work with some amazing people who have both cheered me on and supported me in my times of need.”
Bonnie has gone through a lot during the last few years, but it’s the pups who have made her the happiest. Bridget is her pride and joy, and she loves being able to give back to the place that has given her so much.
“Being able to connect my passion for helping animals with a no-kill shelter, that exists on a shoestring budget, is both motivating and fulfilling,” said Bonnie. “Even though I am not able to write them a check with a bunch of zeros, I can still make a difference. When everybody chips in, it adds up.”
For more information about Charley’s Strays, visit www.charleysstrays.us.