Ridgefield teens to host fundraiser for furry friends

RIDGEFIELD — On April 11, three Ridgefield High School students who volunteer at Rock N’ Rescue in South Salem, N.Y., will host a fundraiser to benefit the furry friends they work with every day. Maiki Muursepp, 17, Grace Hooker, 15, and Callie Thompson, 15, comprise the nonprofit’s junior advisory board, which has helped to expand the rescue’s reach since its founding in January.

“Rescue works when there is a team that has not only the drive and ambition to always be better, but also when young ingenuity sparks new outlets for the community to connect with what we are all about,” said Juli Cialone, one of Rock N’ Rescue’s executive directors.

Muursepp and Hooker got involved with the organization after fostering cats from the rescue. Thompson — who has a dog — started volunteering last fall per Hooker’s suggestion. Each has a respective role on the board: Hooker handles its social media channels; Thompson writes blogs for the website; and Muursepp coordinates volunteers and does outreach.

“I love the passion Juli and Marla [Valentine] have for the rescue,” Muursepp said of the executive directors. “They put so much effort in that you can’t help but want to do the same for people.”

With Hooker’s help, Rock N’ Rescue’s Instagram following has grown. She also created a TikTok account for the organization to reach younger audiences in the hopes of finding its next class of volunteers.

Thompson’s blog posts are the first introduction website visitors have to the rescue’s animals. “People who read them feel more connected to the rescue and [may be] inspired to adopt,” she said.

On the weekends, Rock N’ Rescue hosts adoption days to introduce potential adopters and fosterers to the nonprofit’s pick of the litter. “It’s rewarding to see the volunteer work that we're doing is making a positive impact on their lives,” Thompson said.

To raise money for the rescue, the board is hosting a Zoom drawing class titled “Meowntains of Cats” on April 11. Children ages 7-11 will learn the basics of drawing cats, discuss their feline friends and participate in a show and tell to display their drawings or introduce their real cats to the class.

“It’s a great way to connect with the community, which is our best source of volunteers and fosters — and we always need more,” Hooker said. “We’ll also talk about the rescue’s mission . . . to inspire the younger kids to get involved.”

Cialone said she was grateful to the teenaged trio for breathing new life into the rescue. “Seeing such wonderful young women working so hard to make the world a better place is inspiring for us, too,” she said. “Their dedication and love of helping not just the cats but the people adopting makes the whole process go full circle.”

The Zoom drawing class is April 11 from noon to 1 p.m. Participants supply their own paper and colored pencils or markers. Email rocknrescueboard@gmail.com to register and receive the link to join. Please include your child’s name and age in the email. Suggested donation is $10 to attend and should be sent via Venmo to @RockNRescue with the memo “Meowntains of Cats.”

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com