They are your neighbors. They’re people you pass in the grocery store or someone you pull up next to at a stop light. Ultimately, they are strangers to whom you don’t give much thought. But to the most-needy of animals who find sanctuary at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, our volunteers are angels of absolute hope and mercy.
Nicki Trepes is one of those angels.
Nicki, a proud “Navy Brat,” was born in California. Then she moved to New York. Then back to California – where she met her now-husband, Chris — before finally retiring in Florida. During these years, Nicki became a self-described “Jack of all trades,” gaining life-experience in such fields as waitressing, electronics, being a limo driver, a bouncer, an accountant and an ER Nurse. It was a long road that brought Nicki to the door as a Volunteer at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast. But – as it is with all journeys — the many roads she traveled are what prepared her for the needs of the little furry-lives who would come to depend on her to survive.
Nadia — a two-year-old mixed breed who was rescued from another shelter where she was going to be euthanized — is one of them. In addition to being emaciated and scared, Nadia was pregnant and about to give birth.
She was brought home by one of our staff members, Georgie Waite (Shelter Manager), and with the added assistance of Susana (Director of Operations), Nadia gave birth to ten puppies. One did not survive. It took a couple of weeks to nurse Nadia to a stable state of health. In the meantime, staff members had to help bottle feed the babies because Nadia couldn’t produce enough milk.
It was now time for Nadia and her babies to be transferred to foster care where they could receive round-the-clock love, care and attention. Enter Nicki.
“I am loving it,” Nicki beamed when asked how she likes being a Foster Fur-Mom. “Definitely!”
Normally, Nicki spends time being a Volunteer at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, working the front counter and assisting staff wherever she is needed.
Nadia, has been in Nicki’s tender, loving care since Sunday, February 16. Even during this short time, Nicki said she’s watched Nadia – whom she calls “Mama” — go from “nervous and stand-offish” to “excited and happy” and so eager to repay the love she’s being given with enthusiastic, “slobbery kisses.”
“It’s all so new to me,” Nicki admitted. “But it’s part of who I am. It’s like being an ER Nurse. You’re either the type of person who wants to help and give to others or you’re not.”
“I enjoy giving them love,” she confessed of her role in caring for the animals who come to the Humane Society of the Nature Coast. “You don’t know where they’ve been. You don’t know their stories. It gives me such satisfaction.”
Nadia’s pups will be available for adoption very soon!
Aside from being a Foster Fur Mom, Nicki enjoys cooking and gardening. She and her husband Chris have five children (three daughters and two sons), three grandchildren and one great granddaughter. She also has two dogs (Gabbi and Lourd), three goats (Tiny, Sinatra and Cotton Tail) and nine chickens who are too numerous to name.
So, in addition to nurturing and caring for her family and a menagerie of her own furry and feathered babies, Nicki somehow finds time to help care for the most-needy of animals who find sanctuary at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, a true angel of absolute hope and mercy. And, if you look real close, and the light hits her just right… you just might see her wings.