Volunteering is a Family Affair for Zoo Board President
Tom, wife Kira, Jungle Jack Hanna, and son Brayden
Painting fences, taking photos, setting up events, cleaning buildings and repainting bathroom floors—it’s all in a day’s work for Henry Vilas Zoological board president Tom Dott. A philanthropist jack-of-all-trades, Dott also occasionally sidelines as Henry the lion on zoo grounds.
No matter the job, Dott fills the role with enthusiasm. With his wife Kira and son Brayden, Dott has made volunteering a constant in his life in the belief of giving back to the community.
Henry Vilas Zoo holds special meaning for Dott because it’s a place his family can both enjoy and support—they’ve spent countless hours over the past ten years visiting and volunteering. Nestled on the near west side among quaint neighborhoods, parks and the picturesque Lake Wingra, the zoo is a city gem that contributes to the high quality of life his family enjoys by living here. “It’s a special place not only to our family but to the greater community.” And Dott doesn’t just want to keep it that way, he wants to improve it, which is why he and his family are working on a new goal to assist the free-admission Henry Vilas Zoo: building an Animal Health Center.
A surprise to many, the zoo has functioned without an onsite animal hospital for as long as its been in existence—more than 100 years. Currently, the veterinarian treats the zoo’s over 600 animals in a small room in the administration office. The desire to enrich the community and sustain the zoo’s free programming has led Dott to his latest volunteer role as fundraiser for the new animal hospital. Along with his family, he’s promoting the zoo’s 6th Annual Grand Gala to raise funds for the building and the increased educational opportunities the animal hospital will provide for zoo-goers.
Dott uses every day as an opportunity to enrich the city of Madison. “By being involved in at the zoo we are making investments in the community that will insure this quality of life for generations to come.”
Besides the tremendous work he does at the zoo, Dott and his family are Mary Cornelia Bradley Donor Society Ambassadors for the American Family Children’s Hospital and together received the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award in 2010 from the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Madison.
Dott is also a vocal advocate of volunteering, encouraging other people to become involved. “There are so many different ways that people can volunteer at the zoo that it makes it a wonderful opportunity because there is something for everyone.”
Henry Vilas Zoo’s 6th Annual Merrill Lynch Grand Gala is Friday, May 11, 2012 from 5:30-10p at the Madison Concourse Hotel. Proceeds from the event will support a new Animal Health Center at Henry Vilas Zoo. Tickets and more information are available online. Visit vilaszoo.org to learn more.