About Us: The Story of Almost There Foster Care

GERI HORMEL
GERI HORMELATFC Founder
Geri has always had a big place in her heart for animals. Growing up, she was the girl with too many pets to count – dogs, cats, goats, pigs, horses, and donkeys.
Geri joined the animal rescue world at 16 and it didn’t take her long to learn about fostering (aka taking home a bundle of adorable under-aged puppies!). She started walking kenneled dogs, worked in adoptions, and later enrolled in the Emergency Animal Medical Technician training program at the Arizona Humane Society, allowing her to become a volunteer in their Second Chance Hospital where she continued to learn about the medical side of the rescue world with hands-on experience.
Over the years, Geri gained invaluable experience in volunteer work and fostering with several different organizations including The Arizona Humane Society, Arizona Animal Welfare League, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control, Halo Animal Rescue, and more. She knew she wanted to find a bigger way to help, so she asked these organizations to tell her their most important needs. The answer, hands down, was space. Particularly space for large-breed pregnant dogs that require a lot of room and care. That was when Almost There Foster Care was born.
ANNIE VERDERAME
ANNIE VERDERAMESocial Media Guru
Annie heads our social media department, showcasing our adoptable pups each and every day. When Annie isn’t playing with the dogs, taking photos, and posting to Instagram, she is a full-time Pilates teacher, and owns a studio here in Phoenix. It is because of Pilates that Annie met our founder,
Geri, and expressed her interest in being involved with ATFC.
Annie grew up with dogs her entire life, and currently has two rescues of her own (one of which she adopted from ATFC!). She volunteers at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control with ProjectPAL and OneLove Arizona, and has volunteered with Arizona Small Dog Rescue in the past.
Her passion is to spread the word about the importance of spay/neuter while advocating for, supporting, and loving as many homeless animals as she can.
SHIRLEY SILVA
SHIRLEY SILVAATFC Business Admin
Shirley started working for the late Geordie Hormel at the Village Recorder in the accounting department in 1986 and has worked for the Hormel family ever since, even relocating to Phoenix with her husband David after Geordie moved his family here.
Shirley has more than 40 years of accounting and business experience, and has played a vital role helping to structure ATFC from the moment Geri announced her idea to start a rescue foundation. Shirley continues to use her accounting and business talents to oversee ATFC. Coming to work is more fun than ever with all the pups around, and Shirley loves to get her “daily dose of Vitamin P” visiting all those adorable pups and their mamas.
Shirley has been married to her David for 40 years and they are proud of their of their only child, Daniel, who is 23 years old and a talented drummer. Shirley also enjoys a spiritually rich life and is well known for the guiding role she plays with all who know her. Animals have always been an important part of her life, and her family has two sweet dogs, Petey and Guiness, and a tank full of fish.
MELISSA
MELISSAATFC Chief Puppy Caretaker
When Melissa joined Almost There Foster Care she never imagined the opportunity would become such a big part of her life. She thought she would just take care of a couple of litters, no problem. But she realized very early on that it would become a dangerous job – she couldn’t help but fall in love with all of our doggie guests and she wanted to adopt each and every one!
Luckily, Melissa is responsible for primary care-taking and setting up most of our ATFC Meet n’ Greets, where she enjoys the opportunity to meet the great families our fur babies get to join. Melissa feels it is a privilege to work with rescued animals, the wonderful individuals who are adopting, and a great team at ATFC.
Melissa lives nearby with her husband Louis, their 4-year-old son Aaron and a newbie in the cooker, due very soon!
RACHEL STERN
RACHEL STERNAdmin & Puppy Expert
Rachel has worked for the Hormel family for over 5 years and with ATFC since it began. She developed her love for all things furry early on while hanging out on her relative’s farm in the mid-west where she fed pigs, rode horses, was a dog sledding handler, and pet sitter. Now she is loving her own two fur babies, Ramsey and Skye. Whether it’s bringing small injured birds to the wildlife rescue, saving lizards from predators, or assisting in puppy births, Rachel will never turn down a chance to help out.
She grew up in the midwest and has resided in Arizona almost 20 years. With two decades in accounting/administrative positions, she now helps administratively. But she loves to jump in daily for hands-on care of our dogs and is obsessed with snapping that ‘perfect’ pup pic that will melt the hearts of potential adopters.
SAMANTHA NIETO
SAMANTHA NIETOATFC Photographer
Sammy started photographing our fur balls from the very beginning of ATFC, but for now she far away, pursuing an MFA at Lesley University in Boston, MA. But whenever Sammy visits Phoenix, where she was raised, she just can’t stay away. Besides visiting family and friends, she always pops in for a puppy fix and somehow finds the time to shoot, edit and leave us with a batch of her fantastic, creative photos for social media.
Sammy has volunteered her time to the Arizona Animal Welfare League, Pittie Me Rescue, and The Arizona Humane Society. She has experience working with animals, which includes overseeing the birth of 10 puppies!
She and her family could not resist the doggie cuteness that surrounds ATFC, and they have adopted two adorable pit bull puppies from ATFC, Cookie and Frida.

Our Mission Statement

ATFC is dedicated to providing loving care and a comfortable space to homeless dogs in need as we search to find their forever homes.
ATFC specializes in large-breed pregnant dogs and their pups who need time and space to grow and become socialized. Our dogs have significant social time with adults, children and other dogs, and we provide them with training. ATFC is determined to give you all the information we know about our dogs so we can help find the perfect match for you. All of our dogs are altered, microchipped, and up-to-date on vaccines prior to adoption.
ATFC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and receives no tax or government funding. We do not sell, rent, or share our supporter information with any other organizations or third parties.



Our Supporters

It’s true, it really does take a village! Lucky for us, we have support from numerous local entities including, but not limited to:

Winquist Studios

All of our wonderful volunteers!

Happy Tails

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