When you think of volunteering at an animal shelter, your first thought may be of all the adorable puppies and kittens you’ll meet, and the animals you’ll fall in love with. But Brewster volunteer Steve Chapman can tell you there is so much more to volunteering at ARL than what meets the eye. 

After 26 years in high-level Law Enforcement, Steve Chapman and his wife Gail relocated to The Cape in 2006. After a few years of planting their roots in their new home, Steve and Gail decided they were ready to add a four-legged friend to their family. “There is nothing better than seeing that happy face in the window when you come home to a dog,” Steve says. So, they came to the ARL’s Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Center, where they met and adopted a sweet Labrador Retriever, Zoey. 

From there, Steve’s connection with ARL only grew stronger. Retirement got old quickly for Steve, so when seeking out ways to meaningfully spend his time, he decided to start volunteering at ARL. Upon the start of his volunteer journey, Steve realized that playing with the kittens and puppies, although fun, is not what was most needed. With a small number of staff members and volunteers at the Brewster location, Steve became the go-to guy for helping with various maintenance projects around the campus. Today, he is affectionately known as the MacGuyver of Brewster. If you visit the shelter, you can probably find Steve swapping light bulbs, or fixing kennel doors, or lifting and moving food, or really just doing anything that is needed around the shelter! While there are abundant opportunities to work with the animals, we are so grateful to Steve’s dedication in helping us with some of the less glamorous parts of running an animal shelter. 

In addition to his integral role as Brewster’s fix-it man, Steve has also become someone that both the staff and volunteers can go to for support. Working and volunteering can be an emotionally daunting endeavor, and Steve is always there to offer a listening ear, and supporting words. His experience in law enforcement helped him develop extreme emotional resiliency and the ability to remain logical in tough situations. But that doesn’t mean the tough stories don’t affect him. In fact, one of Steve’s earliest memories involving animals was standing up to a neighborhood bully who was being rough with a neighborhood cat. At a young age, Steve learned the importance of standing up for what’s right – even if it is difficult to do. 

Steve’s strength, composure, and warmth makes him a great resource for our staff and volunteers. Steve is one of those people that makes you comfortable enough to share your problems with, even within hours of meeting him. Steve recalls some of his best memories at ARL as ones when he got the chance to connect with people on a deeper level. 

“Everyone has a story”, Steve says. And whether that story belongs to a staff member, volunteer, or shelter animal, Steve is there to offer his support. We are so grateful to Steve for being an unwavering champion for animals and the people who love them.