A truly dedicated team of caring volunteers
Karen O’Rourke, President
Karen began fostering cats in 2008 for a friend that was involved in cat rescue. In 2014, Karen became aware of the conditions of the 200+ outdoor cat colony at the piers along the Delaware River waterfront and got involved. Karen got to work on increasing the number of daily feeders and getting more adequate shelters installed.
The SCRF family has grown substantially since Karen’s start with the organization. She is so grateful for an amazing group of talented and dedicated volunteers that inspire her every day. SCRF’s mission is to help as many cats and kittens that it can. One of the main focuses this year is on education about TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return).
Karen graduated from Temple University in 2004 with a degree in English. She has a grown, married daughter and her favorite thing to do is cook!
Debbie started working with us in 2019 after volunteering for a TNR event we were holding. Shortly after she decided to become a full time member of the SCRF team. She was never a “cat person” up until a few years ago as she’s always had dogs and wasn’t a fan of cats.
After her 2 dogs passed, she and her boyfriend decided they’d never get a pet again. This lasted 6 months until a stray little calico showed up on their street. They ended up taking her in and they fell completely in love with the her.
After bringing Pia inside, Debbie realized the desperate situation of the stray cats in her neighborhood and started trapping them to get them fixed and subsequently finding them rescues and adoptive homes.
In real life, Debbie works full time in the Investment Industry, has a dog named Luigi and cats of her own who all appeared on her doorstep through the years.
Debbie’s passion is to help the medically urgent cats that are found on the street in dire situations that a lot of other people shy away from. She works very hard creating new and fun ways to raise money for the medical care of these urgent cats.
Debbie DiStanisloa, Medical Director & Fundraising Coordinator
Amy Mancuso, Foster Coordinator
Amy began her involvement as a volunteer with Stray Cat Relief by doing cat care at the South Philly PetValu in 2019. She was guided by another volunteer Sharla in how to become more involved with helping the cats in her neighborhood by doing TNR and rescue. She grew up with family cats her whole life and has a passion for helping stray cats in need. She has six wonderful cat sons and an affinity for black cats in particular!
Sharla has loved cats since she was a little girl. She adopted her first cat “Whiskers” as a child in 1990 and hasn’t been without a cat in her home ever since. Sharla has taken in numerous stray cats and kittens throughout the years and had been vetting them and finding homes for them on her own (many of which found a home with her). She met Karen in 2016 after joining the South Philly TNR Facebook page. Sharla has TNR’d countless numbers of cats in the South Philly community. She officially became part of the SCRF team in early 2018.
Sharla Mazzone, Adoption Coordinator
Michelle Ashley, Operations
Michelle has been an animal lover all her life. She grew up with a Lhasa Apso named Muffin. Later in life, she was given the most precious birthday gift, a Lhasa Apso puppy named Mochaccino; Mocha for short. When Michelle and Mocha moved into Center City Philadelphia she noticed the number of cats that were skinny and homeless in her neighborhood. Although she was highly allergic to cats she started feeding a few which turned into many.
All the cats were neutered and vetted and for the last 10 years. Michelle’s garage has become the “local diner” for all the stray cats, possums, and raccoons that meander into her garage for food or shelter. She’s cared for and found permanent loving homes for 30 + cats and inhaled enough cat dander that she’s no longer allergic. She recently got involved with the Stray Cat Relief Fund as a volunteer to help feed the “pier” cats which developed into a permanent position as a SCRF board member.
Michelle is a Center City Realtor with Keller Williams Philly and lives with five cats; Mojito, Mazzie, Mia, Moby and Mikhala. She has too many outdoor “kids” to list in her bio!
Katie’s love for animals she was very young. She was an active member of her local 4H where she raised chickens in her back yard. Her passion for helping community cats came when she moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and couldn’t help but notice the lack of accountability for the many stray cats in her neighborhood. She soon became an advocate for animal welfare and began fostering, volunteering, and working to TNR her community. She currently owns and operates BarkPark! a pet care facility located in South Philly, where she hosts trapping seminars and teaches her neighbors and anyone willing to learn about Trap-Neuter-Return.
Katie Wade, Director of Public Relations
Cat Newsom, Board Member
Cat, yes that’s her real name, became a part of the SCRF team in 2019. She is heavily involved in TNR, fostering, transportation and the day to day operations of the rescue. In addition to her full time job, Cat usually spends her nights and weekends picking up cats and transporting them to various locations. Her house is normally the first stop for the cats to get an assessment on them.
Like many cat lovers, it began when Kelsey was a little girl. She grew up close to a farm in rural PA and always had cats or kittens as pets and close by companions. It wasn’t until she purchased a home in Philadelphia that she discovered the heart-breaking truth about community cats in the city. In July of 2018 her and her husband rescued 2 kittens from the alley behind their house in Point Breeze. This rescue was the gateway to more rescuing, fostering, TNR and advocating for community cats in Philadelphia. She officially joined the SCRF team in January 2019 and is excited to help more cats & kittens than ever.
Kelsey graduated from Temple University in 2011 and works full time at NBC Sports Philadelphia. She is a diehard Eagles fan and a total health & wellness junkie. If you can’t get a hold of her she’s probably at yoga!
Kelsey Grimeck, Communications Director
Rosemary, Equipment control
Rosemary, known by her close friends and family as Ro has been a dedicated volunteer for several years. You couldn’t meet a more caring, devoted, selfless woman who goes above and beyond to help kitties in need. She has several of her own cats and fosters as well. She specializes in kitten care and is a volunteer at our managed colony. That doesn’t even cover all the hard work and good that she does though! She is an amazing baker! She is one of the most important members of the rescue and more importantly a cherished friend to us.
Susan was born a Leo and her Chinese New Year is the tiger. It’s no wonder she’s loved cats her entire life. She found her first two cats up her neighbor’s tree when she was in grade school and had cats the rest of her childhood. When she got her first apartment, the very first thing she did was adopt two cats from The Morris Animal Refuge. Animals have always been her passion and that caused her to become a vegetarian when she was eleven years old.
When Susan’s youngest daughter got her driver’s license over two years ago, she had more free time and decided to get involved in animal rescue. Around Thanksgiving she went to PetSmart for food for her son’s lizard. As she was leaving, she saw the saddest cat all alone in a cage. The cat was so distraught she was hiding in a little cat cave. The woman at the register said all the other cats were adopted except for this one. She took a picture of the cat’s information and emailed SCRF that she wanted to foster the cat. A minute later Karen called her and two days later she had Mia who found her forever home.
About a month later she had two feral kittens who were eventually adopted by a retired teacher. She started volunteering at our TNR events, had some more fosters and then fostered a mama cat with nine kittens. Then a male kitten with medical issues needed a foster. The nine kittens were adopted and she kept the male kitten along with the feral mama. Susan is married, has four grown children, six cats, a rescue dog, and a lizard. Along with TNR she assists with our fundraising efforts.
Susan grew up in the Philly suburbs, graduated from Drexel University and currently resides in Medford, NJ.
Susan Kates, Board Member
Christine Rock, Administrative correspondent
Christine grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and has loved animals her entire life. Her father instilled in her a passion for helping strays at an early age by bringing home cats and dogs he found on the street while working as a welder across the city. Over the past several years, her focus has turned to TNR, as well as adopting and fostering homeless cats. Christine started volunteering with the rescue one year ago, and she assists with TNR efforts, transport, trapping injured or sick cats that need medical care, and assistance requests from the community. She currently cares for over 20 cats of her own, all of whom have been rescued from the streets or given up by their owners. She graduated from La Salle University and has been a teacher in Philadelphia for over 15 years. When she is not doing “cat stuff,” she loves to read and spend time with her 7 year old daughter, Samantha.