MHAA was incorporated in 1979 and began as a foster care organization. Founders Ruth Valenti and Essie Dabrusin were champions of abused and homeless animals in the city of Newburgh. These amazing senior citizens often compromised their own safety to rescue dogs and cats left behind by tenants in less than safe situations and then lovingly took them into their homes. Veterinary expenses and basic needs were funded out of the pockets of these guardian angels and their close friends.
In the late 1980’s, it became apparent that the tremendous demand for safe housing for these animals required a permanent facility. Fundraising efforts were tripled and local sponsors were found. The city of Beacon gave the Animal Rescue Foundation land atop an old sewage treatment plant and MHAA was invited to build a structure over an existing greenhouse on the property. In May 1990, MHAA opened its doors with only 15 feline residents, a bare bones staff of volunteers, a few dollars in the bank, and a vision to find homes for all cats.
Ruth and Essie devoted countless hours to ensure the success of the shelter and developed a strong volunteer base to run and fund their efforts. Essie passed away in 1994 after decades of selfless dedication to animals. As a tribute to her remarkable legacy, the shelter name was changed to Mid Hudson Animal Aid Essie Dabrusin Cat Sanctuary.
Here’s a picture of the original structure upon which the sanctuary was built
And here’s 2014!