Julie and Steve Servantez put focus on rescued pets
People Who Matter
Click here to view all of the stories from The Gazette's "People Who Matter" series.
Occupation: Administrative assistant, Milton West Elementary
Family members: Four children, Erich, Dustin, Frances and Caitlin; husband, Steve; five cats and one dog.
Favorite hobbies: "I love to cook in my free time!"
Favorite CDs: Anything by Adele
Favorite movie: "Jesus Christ Superstar." "I know every word to every song."
Favorite book: Not a big "pleasure" reader. No time. "I love to read online pieces—blogs, etc. Little snippets of what's going on."
Role models: "My grandpa (my dad's dad). He was a lover of nature, a kind, gentle, peaceful man. A lovely human being."
Family members: Four children, Erich, Dustin, Frances and Caitlin; wife, Julie; five cats and one dog.
Favorite hobbies: Photography, community service.
Favorite CDs: "I have over 500. I could never choose one."
Favorite movie: "Cool Hand Luke"
Favorite book: No time for books, magazines by the dozen.
Role models: "I try to be the person I see daily in the mirror. Never attainable."
Three words that best describe you: Honest, passionate, driven.
FULTON TOWNSHIP Rescue animals get their 15 minutes of fame monthly with Julie and Steve Servantez.
Foster parents bring adoptable dogs and cats, one by one, to the couple's in-home photo studio. As Steve readies the camera, Julie calms the animals and attempts to get them to sit quietly on a white platform. Then Steve snaps their pictures.
Later, the photos are posted at Petfinder.com.
"These professional portraits make our animals stand out," Julie said. "They really make a difference in finding them permanent homes."
Julie and Steve are tireless volunteers for Friends of Noah, an all-breed animal rescue group founded in 2010.
They share their Fulton Township home with a bulldog and five cats, all rescued animals. One cat is blind. One has a single eye. The dog was near death with pneumonia when Steve brought her home and nursed her back to health.
Steve is a veterinarian and senior partner at Janesville's Badger Veterinary Clinic. Julie is an administrative assistant at Milton West Elementary.
Their compassion for animals expresses itself in many ways.
Julie started one of the most important programs of Friends of Noah to keep animals in their homes. She set up programs with nine area food pantries, which now distribute pet food to more than 500 families. Since May 2010, more than 16,000 pounds of pet food for dogs and cats have been given to pet owners who otherwise could not afford to buy it.
"Noah's ultimate goal is to keep pets and families together," said Lois Corwin, Noah's executive director. "No one should have to make a decision based on financial need about whether they can keep their pet."
Corwin called Julie's skills "vast and multi-faceted" when it comes to designing the group's posters, brochures, logo and graphics.
Steve serves as president of Friends of Noah's board of directors.
"That's no small task when you are leading an organization that basically started from ground zero and has grown so fast and so large in just two years," Corwin said. "He has the ability to coach all of us, in a positive way, so we can continue to be highly motivated."
Steve also chairs a committee for another critical part of the Friends of Noah—the Badger Animal Fund. The fund helps families pay for emergency pet care that they otherwise could not afford. The fund pays up to $3,000 monthly for procedures and care at Rock County veterinary clinics.
Steve and Julie freely give their time and talent to help the animals.
"Animals have no voice," Steve said. "They rely on humans to make sure they have quality of life."
Jerry Huffman, volunteer communications director for Friends of Noah, explains why the work of Julie and Steve is so invaluable.
"There are tons of people who pay lip service to the idea of volunteering," he said. "But in the end, they rarely put themselves out. Both Steve and Julie are there, every day, when they've already had a full day in their own lives. They care deeply about the animals. Steve and Julie are always willing to go just a little bit further than you would expect to make a difference."