Making a Big Commitment Smaller

By Sarah Lyon

Terry Steeves was quite literally born an animal lover. “When my parents brought me home from the hospital, we lived on a farm, and a cat gave birth to kittens in my crib!” she laughs. From there, her home was always filled with dogs, cats, goldfish, and even a bearded dragon. But she quickly says, “Never has there been one, and never will there be, a snake. Sorry, but I can’t do it.”

Terry has been married to her husband David for 35 years and they have two daughters, in Pictou County. In 2004 she started working at Central Home Improvement for Steve Smith. She says there was no official partnership with the Nova Scotia SPCA, but everyone on staff loved and had animals, so it was their charity of choice and Terry became a dedicated fundraiser for it.

“We did a cupcake day, we put out collection jars for funds, we collected blankets and food,” she remembers. “We would take them to the Granton facility where I got to know the wonderful staff and volunteers, and saw what a sad state the building was in.” One Christmas she spoke to her five siblings and got them on board with forgoing their regular gift exchange and instead sponsoring a kennel.

So, when she heard that Northern Nova Scotia would be getting a new SPCA and that Steve Smith was involved, she got on the phone. “The minute I heard about it, I called him and said I’m in.” Terry would dive in with both feet.

She sat on the building committee and volunteered on special events like the theatre fundraiser in support of the SPCA which put on a production of The Hockey Monologues. She also made a personal financial gift to the North Nova SPCA.

“I was mulling over how to make a donation that reflected my excitement. That’s why I gave a major gift. What made it possible were two things: one, I pledged to fulfill the gift over five years. And two, I thought about how much monthly over the five years I would donate, and that amount is what I send in each month.” Terry encourages people to think about how much they could give when they look at giving over a few years. “It sounds like a big commitment until you look at it that way.”

Terry is looking forward to the grand opening. “The staff and volunteers are phenomenal; their current surroundings are not. So, I am so excited for them to get this new facility, just as much as I am for the animals.” She has been in the building with Steve Smith and contractor Bob Arbuckle recently and was impressed with the changes from the Granton location. “A lot of thought has gone into making it comfortable and safe for the animals during their stay. And I think having a thrift store to help sustain the operations is brilliant!”

On the day when the doors open, Terry admits that she will be crying tears of joy. “I will be happy, happy, happy. The space is a million times better than the old space I first walked into with donations in 2004. I’ll shop at the thrift store, tour, and try not to adopt another cat.”

She laughs and says, “But you never know, maybe I will, I’m a bit of a wild card like that.”

Sarah Lyon

Sarah is the Director of Marketing and Communications with the Nova Scotia SPCA. At home, she parents rescue dog Mz. Roxy Roller and son Lochlan. Telling the stories of adopters, donors, and volunteers is what makes her tail wag. Connect with Sarah at or 902-229-8620 today.