Habeb to receive Governor’s Service Award

Creatied group that helps community cats

Kandi Habeb, the founder of the Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program, will be honored today with a Governor’s Service Award. The presentation will be made at a ceremony in the West Virginia Culture Center. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — A Parkersburg woman who created a non-profit group to help community cats will be honored today with a Governor’s Service Award.

Kandi Habeb 15 years ago created the Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program.

Habeb will receive the Governor’s Service Award during a presentation at 6:30 p.m. in the Culture Center at the state Capitol grounds in Charleston. Habeb said the award shows the group’s work is appreciated.

“It does, to be acknowledged after 15 years,” she said.

The Governor’s Service Award was created in 1995 under former Gov. Gaston Caperton. The awards recognize individuals, families and organizations for dedication to volunteerism and community service in West Virginia.

Cats and kittens wait in humane traps and carriers to be spayed or neutered or to be vaccinated. Forty-five cats were sterilized and vaccinated that day through the Save a Kitty Feral Cat Program created by Kandi Habeb, who will be honored today with a Governor’s Service Award. (Photo Provided)

Habeb will receive an award in the Adult Category.

She retired from Blue Cross Blue Shield and decided she wanted to do something to help cats.

“I said I wanted to do something for animals,” Habeb said.

She created Save a Kitty to address the issue of feral cats. Since its creation, the organization has spayed or neutered more than 6,800 cats in the community, with more than 1,000 expected to be treated this year.

Habeb has been involved in grant writing and fundraising to finance the procedures on the cats. From 20 to 50 volunteers help, depending on the event, she said.

Discouraging, however, is people will hunt and kill the cats or dispose of the kittens, she said. Not only wrong, it is illegal, Habeb said.

“I feel like there are better alternatives and people need to understand it is against the law,” Habeb said.

Habeb was nominated by Rose Wilson, a member of the Save a Kitty board of directors.

Volunteer West Virginia, which administers the Governor’s Service Awards, said Habeb was inspired to start the program after seeing a cat eating food out of a dumpster. She has helped develop community cat legislation and train shelters and groups around the state establish their own spay and neuter programs.

“Every community needs a cat advocate like Kandi,” Volunteer West Virginia said in a release.

Other 2018 recipients of the Governor’s Service Awards by category are:

∫ Youth: Kiara Stevens, Wellsburg

∫ Adult: Melodee B. Price, Elkins

∫ Senior: Jo Ann Harman, Lahmansville; Kenneth Springer, Hillsboro

∫ Family: The Ash Family, Clarksburg

∫ Lifetime Achievement: Paula Osborne, Berkeley Springs

∫ Organization: Tri-State Literacy Council, Huntington; Faith In Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley, Charleston; Elkins Welcome Depot Center, Elkins; Rotary Clubs of Martinsburg and Shepherdstown

Volunteer West Virginia is part of the state Department of Arts, Culture and History and is the state’s Commission for National and Community Service.