Catherine Rupp – North Central Region

Catherine Rupp exemplifies years of dedicated service to Canine Companions. Catherine became a Canine Companions volunteer in 2009 as a volunteer puppy raiser in Chicago, Illinois. She joined the Greater Chicagoland Volunteer Chapter, stepping into the role of chapter president in the most populous city in the North Central Region. As part of her work with the Chicagoland Chapter, she joined a national board member and staff to create a relationship with The Peninsula, the hotel host for Haute Dog Chicago.
A few years ago, Catherine and her husband left the hustle and bustle of the city of Chicago, but Catherine continued volunteering with Canine Companions in the Wisconsin Group. During the Chapter Refresh, she became one of our founding leaders of the Great Lakes Volunteer Chapter. The Great Lakes Chapter presents perhaps the most unique situation of the North Central chapters, spanning Lake Michigan to serve both Michigan and Wisconsin. She has been a star in this unusual role, fostering leadership and communication skills among her fellow Great Lakes leaders on the other side of the lake.

While some leaders may distance themselves from day-to-day tasks, Catherine works tirelessly coordinating presentations and conducting presentations herself. In 2022, under her leadership, the Wisconsin volunteers led 60 outreach events, reaching more than 1,600 guests, and raising more than $16,000 for Canine Companions. She and her team increased outreach and collected donations at farmers markets, schools, corporations, veteran organizations, and sheriff’s offices, inspiring at least two facility dog applicants so far. Strategically, the bulk of their efforts pursued existing volunteer organizations, like Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Catherine even joined her local GFWC, where her seventh Canine Companions puppy, Oshi, became a bit of a mascot. 

In addition to her duties as Great Lakes Chapter Leader and Canine Companions presenter, Catherine found time to join the Outreach Committee in 2021. The Outreach Committee, led by North Central Region Director of Philanthropy Nancy Whetstone, includes volunteers across our 14-state region who plan and conduct outreach activities to raise funds, increase awareness and stimulate our applicant and volunteer pool. This year, Catherine stepped into the role of Outreach Committee Chair using her Canine Companions experience, leadership and organization skills to provide a grounding force with volunteers who are often further away from chapter centers and at risk of feeling disconnected. And as an early adopter of technology tools, she has been a cheerleader for her teammates to pick up and utilize new tools, like VolunteerHub and Canine Community.

Congratulations, Catherine, and we thank you for your generosity and support for Canine Companions and our communities. 
Image of a woman holding flowers next to a canine companions logo sign