Towne Salute: Lisa Gritti & Tom Divilio of Baywater Animal Rescue
Oct 30, 2017 11:19AM ● Published by Arden Haley
Adding another member to the family can be a great responsibility, especially when it comes in the form of a four-legged, furry friend. But, husband and wife, Tom Divilio and Lisa Gritti, were up for the challenge when they first decided to adopt a shelter dog in 2011.
The couple attended an Adopt-A-Thon at a Pet Smart in Easton, where they were introduced to the staff from Baywater Animal Rescue, which is the leading no-kill shelter on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Although they had already decided on the type of dog they wanted, little did they know that a black Labrador Retriever named Henry would soon win over their hearts.
“We actually wanted a small dog that would not shed and had eliminated labs from our search list,” Divilio says. “But, Henry was such a kind and gentle dog that we decided to take him home for a ‘trial run’.”
After realizing how fortunate they were to find such an amazing companion dog in Henry, both Divilio and Gritti began donating to Baywater. Taking it a step further, the two learned more about the organization and decided to become more involved.
Divilio joined the Board of Directors in 2013 and became president only a year later in 2014 while Gritti has been an active volunteer at the shelter over the last three years.
“The people are amazing in their dedication and they all have very big hearts,” Divilio says. “We have a very dedicated board of directors who spend countless hours and a lot of effort to keep the organization at its best. They’re great people and fun to be around. We just can’t say enough about our volunteers or thank them enough.”
After becoming president of the board, Divilio has been involved in fundraising, event and strategic planning, and overall maintenance in an effort to keep Baywater viable. During his tenure, he has organized the Eastern Shore’s first autocross event in Cambridge to help raise funds for the shelter.
Gritti’s expertise in marketing and information technology has been utilized in several areas as she organizes newsletters, helps train new personnel and volunteers, and helps with many of the fundraising efforts for the shelter.
Together, the pair has attended animal welfare conferences and visited other shelters, some as far away as Atlanta and South Carolina.
“The fundraising events that we participate in take a lot of planning and energy to make them come off smoothly,” Gritti admits. “The thanks we get and the donations that come in from those events make it all worthwhile.”
While their dedication to Baywater Animal Rescue is evident, both Divilio and Gritti also take part in other non-profit organizations.
Divilio, who is a retired surgeon and medical device developer, is also a coach for Character Counts Mid-Shore where he speaks to high school students in Easton monthly. He also started the Mid-Shore Woodworkers’ Guild so that avid woodworkers would have the opportunity to meet others who share their interest and promote education in the craft.
Gritti regularly volunteers her time for the St. Vincent de Paul society, which is a non-denominational organization associated with Sts. Peter & Paul Church to provide food and other assistance for those in need.
As if that weren’t enough Gritti volunteers at the Academy Art Museum providing marketing and technical support for their craft show and assists with Habitat for Humanity Choptank fundraising events. Professionally she works as a wellness coach.
While Divilio is not involved in day-to-day operations at the shelter, Gritti says that he walks through the kennels regularly and has often seen what could be ‘their next dog’.
“They both pour their heart, soul, and dollars to keep Baywater Animal Rescue the leading no-kill animal shelter on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” Executive Director, Maureen Scott, says. “They have been leading the charge for more than three years and we are so very grateful to them both.”
Gritti recounts stories about shelter dogs walking up to her in the office and laying their head in her lap, just to get some love and attention. Gritti admits that there’s a feeling you get when you help someone who can’t do anything for you in return, just because they need it; even when that someone is a lonely animal.
“The animals just want to be loved.,” the couple says. “They want to get out of their kennels and just be with somebody. They truly appreciate the volunteers and you can see that in the way they respond when that volunteer comes back again and again to walk them or play with them.”
For more information on Baywater Animal Rescue, visit Baywateranimalrescue.org