By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Bobby Spirio’s love for animals is evident as he enthusiastically talks about his volunteer work at both the Marlborough Animal Hospital and Berlin Animal Hospital. He wears his identification tags with pride for each location.
He started volunteering after going with his brother, Robert, to Marlborough Animal Hospital to have their cat examined. Soon afterwards, he became a greeter there and has never looked back. He started volunteering at the Berlin Animal Hospital as well. He spends about three hours each Thursday helping the office staff with many tasks.
Spirio has been a client at THRiVE Support and Advocacy (formerly known as the Greater Marlboro Programs, Inc.) for over 20 years.
“All of our funding is from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). We are a family support center for those with a disability. We serve many communities in Metrowest and beyond,” said Nanette Goldstein, director of family and individual support.
The organization’s mission is to “empower individuals with development disabilities to lead rich, active and self-directed lives while supporting their families.”
Some of Spirio’s responsibilities at the hospitals include helping to count the pills for the animals’ prescriptions, greeting the pet owners and their animals, and assisting the technicians with weighing the animals. He even gets to watch the doctors, on occasion, perform surgery and more.
“Dr. Howard Coffman checks in with me on Wednesdays and asks me which location I want to spend some time at. I always ask him which hospital has more animals to tend to. That’s always the one I pick. I just love being around them and helping,” said Spirio.
“The one thing that makes me the saddest is when an animal has no hope of getting better and has to be put down. That is terrible,” he added.
Prior to his volunteer work, Spirio had worked in the Marlborough Public Schools for 36 years before retiring. He worked in the kitchen and was responsible for making sure the dishes were clean, the freezer, fridge and milk were stocked and he always made sure that the juice machine was full. While he enjoyed his years there, he was happy to retire.
Volunteering at the hospitals has given Spirio a newfound energy, he said. He has seen many different animals come into the hospitals, not only cats and dogs, but also a a rat, bald eagle, guinea pig and even a boa constrictor and more.
“I even got to see Marlborough Police Officer Kenneth McKenzie’s police K-9, Kaiser when he came in for a checkup. He is a German Shepherd with very large, sharp teeth,” said Spirio.
Spirio truly loves the animals and the animals appear to love him right back. He is currently searching for a cat in need of adoption and has already visited a few shelters. He is just waiting for the right one to come along.
When he is not volunteering at the animal hospitals, he enjoys doing challenging puzzles that have upwards of 2,000 pieces. He also volunteers at the Immaculate Conception Church in Marlborough as an usher and donation collector. In addition, he helps set up for Bingo Monday evenings where he resides. He also gets five hours of support weekly at THRiVE. His direct care staff member, Jason, works with Bobby to help achieve his exercise goal.
To learn more about THRiVE Support & Advocacy visit www.icanthrive.org.