HEART OF GOLD: Joanne Haynes


Many of Joanne’s earliest memories include holding beautiful newborn kittens that fit in the palm of her small hands.  You could say she fell in love with cats when her heart was kitten-sized.  Although young Joanne had other pets too – her first pet was a Chihuahua, aptly named Hercules, after he pulled a Christmas tree over - her initial fondness for cats has endured.  It is no wonder Joanne eventually found her way to the cats of the humane society.  Meet Joanne Haynes, a volunteer with a Heart of Gold.


Joanne has been helping cats find love, comfort, and their forever homes at CCHS since the early 2000’s.  She proudly admits, after a brief sabbatical for full-time work, she came back in 2012.  You can now find her at the shelter three mornings a week, caring for shelter cats.  And she has no plans to stop volunteering. Why?  When asked if she could describe her volunteer experience at CCHS, she only had one word to say:  JOY.  She experiences pure joy every time she walks through our doors.


Joy isn’t the only thing Joanne experiences at CCHS.  She also experiences breakthroughs with cats on occasion.  One cat named Casey was very timid and shaky at first visit. Joanne sat with Casey for over 45 minutes, patiently waiting with treat in hand, for her to approach.  She finally did, and thus began to trust people - which helped her find her forever family.  Maggie was another cat Joanne remembers.  Staff and volunteers were worried about Maggie because she wouldn’t eat.  Joanne refused to give up on her.  With patience and frequent visits from Joanne, Maggie started eating and became healthy and happy.  Soon afterward, Maggie went to her forever home.


And, as you have probably guessed, Joanne is not without a fur ball of joy at home.  She and her husband have a full-of-personality black and white tuxedo cat, Buster, who came to them in a blizzard 13 years ago.  He owns the house, and them.  Joanne wouldn’t have it any other way.  When not at the humane society, Joanne looks forward to the next day she can be there, daydreams about cleaning the house, creates laminated bookmarks (featuring pictures of people’s pets), reads about neuropsychology or junk mysteries, and spends “way too much time doing nothing.”


We are so grateful Joanne decided to respond to a newspaper ad for volunteers at the Champaign County Humane Society many years ago.  Our hats are off to you, Joanne.  You truly have a Heart of Gold!