GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — The estate of two beloved volunteers has donated $6 million to the Animal Humane Society — the largest donation in its 144-year history.

The donation comes from the estate of Steve Nordberg and Betsy McDonald, who were longtime volunteers before their deaths in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

From 2014 to 2019, they’ve been too busy, volunteering more than 2,000 hours, impressing everyone they meet, like Sally Thornton – AHS’ senior gift manager.

“They were just a great couple. They were pretty quiet, they were very passionate about the job,” Thornton said. “They were always sending socialization photos of the babies, and they did for many years.”

Lisa Bonds, director of advancement for AHS, said the majority of the donation will go to the new St. Paul facility.

“My reaction to hearing the amount is oh my god, that’s fabulous news!” said Bonds.

The Animal Humane Society says people’s relationships with animals have changed dramatically in recent years, which means they too need to change and look to the future.

“We see ourselves as leading the way not just as an animal sanctuary, but as an animal experience,” Bonds said.

Think grass for cats, agility training, a pet food rack, yoga for cats, and even possibly an amphitheater for dogs and their owners.

“We will help people and their pets in every aspect to improve veterinary services, more space for human investigations,” Bonds said.

For the purpose of keeping pets and their owners together. That’s what they say Steve and Betsy would have wanted.

“I think they would like their donation to have such a huge impact on the new facility,” Thornton said.

The Animal Humane Society hopes to dedicate the new St. Paul facility in 2024 and open the following year.

This month alone, the organization helped rescue 47 cats from a car to a rest area during extreme heat.

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