What It’s Like Now: Halley Vincent, 10-year-old animal shelter volunteer and operator of Paws Up KC

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re shifting our Shawnee Mission Faces to focus on folks in roles that have been profoundly effected by the virus and response: What life is like now with social distancing, a stay-at-home mandate and the need for essential workers.

At 10 years old, Halley Vincent is normally super busy around this time of year. She’s busy with schoolwork as a fifth grader at Community School #1 in Mission Hills. She’s busy reading aloud to cats and dogs at animal shelters like Great Plains SPCA in Merriam, Chain of Hope and the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. She’s busy fundraising and volunteering for Paws Up KC, an organization she created to support those animal shelters. Now things are different. Her school is closed, and she can’t go to the shelters. But that hasn’t stopped her from fundraising. She just launched Operation TAILgate for no contact donation pickups and is distributing homemade paper flowers to people who donate to her organization. An honoree at a Shawnee city council meeting last year, Vincent enjoys drawing, painting, dancing and singing. She lives in Shawnee with her parents, Cody Hall and Alisha Vincent, her little sister, and their cat Puff, dog Tank and guinea pig Wezzy.

Things have really changed a lot. I can’t read at the animal shelter every Tuesday like I usually do. It’s been different and I know for my sister, that she really misses her friends, so that’s also hard too, with school, and not being able to interact with her friends and my friends.

It’s all been really hard.

So every Tuesday, I would read at Great Plains SPCA for an hour. It would start at 4:30. And now, it’s like really, really different. Before, we would have kids come and visit and also read to the animals. We had a system really good.

We used to read to multiple animals for about an hour, and we would switch between the dog and the cat room. And then we would add a sticker to their little card so we know that they came. That would pretty much be it for Tuesday.

Now, I have to read from home, and I’m reading to the same animal every time, so for me, it gets a little bit boring but I make it work.

It makes me feel sad. I miss seeing all the little faces of the puppies and the kitties. I miss it all. It’s just really different right now, and it’s different for me to not see new people and new faces all the time.

I started by doing just a simple fundraiser selling brownies and popcorn balls, and it became this big thing. It was really fun and I had a lot of fun with it. It made it so that way I could really speak out loud. And I think it’s important because they all need loving homes.

It’s different now because I can’t do tailgates. I call it Operation TAILgate because a tail, it comes off a dog or a cat. And I had a logo and everything for it. But now it’s really hard because I can’t do those things. So instead I have to just make my way doing no contact pickups.

I hope that we all get through it together because we’re pretty much all in the same community. We can get through it, it just takes time.

(What is that?) It’s a paper flower that I made out of a folder, and I put my sticker on the back. I’m going to give them to people who donate to us between April 30 and May 7. So that’s what the no contact pickup is going to be. They’re gonna leave something somewhere, and I’m just gonna leave this so they know I was there. I want to give these out to brighten up people’s day.