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Student Spending Time Giving Back

Autumn Fleming We’re familiar with the saying that cats have nine lives. Sometimes though, they need help in making sure they can have their best life. Autumn Fleming has been spending her time giving back to the community through her volunteer efforts with Salem’s Community Cats (SCC). Autumn is a student at Salem Central School District, and will begin her junior year when school resumes.

SCC was organized in the fall of 2019 by Darlene Phillips after she learned there was a group of stray cats living behind the Salem Tavern. Though the tavern owner and other residents had been providing food to cats for years, some of the cats had medical conditions, and there was the inevitable issue of population control. After discussing the long-term welfare of the cats with the tavern owner, SCC began trapping the cats and getting them spayed and neutered.

Members of the community made donations to help with SCC’s efforts, and within four months 34 cats were rescued, which included being TNR’d (trapped, neutered and returned).  Sixteen of the 34 felines were kittens who were saved and adopted.

 Darlene Phillips then reached out to the community for assistance in early 2020. Initially, there were 11 like-minded individuals who met in February to learn how they could help. As of March 2020, there are 18 dedicated volunteers ready to feed, trap, transport, care, foster, and do whatever is necessary to give the community cats a better life.

Autumn Fleming was one of the first volunteers to step up.  “Autumn has proven herself to be an invaluable member of our team. She and her mother, Tina have volunteered countless hours to the care of several community cats needing housing and fostering. This included a pregnant female cat who has since given birth to her litter of kittens,” stated Debra Myers, Vice President of Salem’s Community Cats.  Autumn has spent hours caring for the mom and her kittens, as well as several other cats who needed temporary fostering in order to receive medical care and be rehomed. 


SCC’s very first adoption was a cat named Buster, who was cared for by Autumn and her mother. Without Autumn’s assistance and continued love, Buster would have perished on the street. Instead, he is residing with a retired teacher where he is enjoying his new life of love, safety, and comfort.

“It is our great pleasure to have Autumn as a part of our team. She continuously works to help the voiceless, and cares for the unwanted and abandoned. She truly exemplifies Salem pride,” stated Debra Myers.


You can learn more about Salem’s Community Cats by visiting or Facebook under Salem's Community Cats.