One of the last things Ed Vanorden's wife said to him before she passed away was to take care of their dogs.
The Hopatcong resident said those words resonated with him, and thought to himself, "I can do more than that."
And that's just what he did.
About a year later in June 2011, Vanorden met with resident Wendy Ciardi, and the two saw a need to help local animals, and created the Hopatcong Pound Project, where they raise money for animals and their supplies.
One of the first things they thought of was to revamp the Hopatcong Pound and add in more space for the stray animals, which Animal Control Officer Dale Sloat said they have been trying to do for years.
Through fundraisers and donations throughout the community, the duo raised over $30,000 to build a brand new building for the pound, which officially went up on Oct. 11.
Vanorden said he wanted the building to honor his wife, Kelly, and he gave the very first donation in her name.
From the instant he saw the pound for the first time last year, he had a vision for a new building.
"I could have either made a donation and walked away, or become part of something that is extremely necessary and much bigger," he said.
The new building is the first step in the renovations. The pound has been using the same building for its 55 years, and Sloat said it's hard for more than three people to move around in it because of its narrow halls and all of the animals.
Currently there are over 30 cats and 1 dog, but Sloat said the dogs come in and out, and get adopted much quicker than the cats.
The new building is adjacent to the existing one, and will be used mostly to house the cats. There will also be a room for people to play with dogs or cats they're interested in adopting, and an office space.
"That area will be made nice, more efficient, and clean," Ciardi said. "The cats need more space."
The existing building will also be redone once the new buidling is completed.
Ciardi said the pound will also become a resource for people to get pet food, and will start helping with microchipping, rabie shots, and spaying and neutering the animals.
Right now the building is still empty, and has to go through a number of inspections, and have framing and electrical work done. Vanorden and Ciardi said they won't know when they can start using the building until the inspections are complete.
For now, Vanorden and Ciardi are planning to have an open house so residents can see where all of their time and money went. The building, which cost about $18,000 for the foundation and $12,000 for the structure, was done through fundraising events put together by Vanorden and Ciardi and donations from residents.