XENIA, Ohio – As Coconut and Chloe purr loudly, they slowly walk the front counter, with their tails up, to greet you as you walk through the doors at 4 Paws for Ability. A warm smile and a friendly “Hi there!” projects from behind two pacing kitties, as Julie Bowen looks up over her silver-framed spectacles—she is crunching numbers and typing furiously on her computer’s keyboard.
With no relation to Hollywood’s Modern Family actress, this Julie Bowen does a lot of star-quality work right here in Xenia. A volunteer since July 2010, she is one of the reasons that 4 Paws for Ability runs as smoothly as it does.
Between two and three times a week, she creates dog food and volunteer hours logs, files vet records, and of course holds puppies and “entertains the office cats,” she said.
“Julie is awesome—always here, reliable,” that is, when she’s not feeding the cats treats, said 4 Paws for Ability Executive Director Karen Shirk with a chuckle. “We would have a lot more work without her, that’s for sure.”
But the 65-year-old is used to working hard, she said she has worked all her life, most recently in the Human Resources department at Greene Oaks. But before she came to Dayton, she was an officer in the Air Force for 13 years, working in computers and technology. After living in nine states, three foreign countries
and having 31 different mailing addresses, Bowen has made her roots for the past 18 years in the neighboring city of Fairborn.
The distinguished, silver-haired volunteer has a lot in common with the dogs at 4 Paws… although she is modest about saying so herself. They both started their lives never really calling one place their home—learning all they needed to from several different people, ultimately to do good—moving from place to place, until they found where they were needed the most. For the dogs it’s with their child. For Bowen, it seems to be here at 4 Paws.
Bowen, who is originally from Michigan, has been married twice but has no children, well… except for Chloe, she said with a smile.
“I love being around the critters,” she said about volunteering at 4 Paws. So it’s a good thing she is a “cat person” because her most frequent desk visitors are two felines. And for her, that’s the best part—that, and the dogs who serve as more than just a companion to those who need them.
“[It’s] nice to know they’re doing something that will help folks,” she said. “And they seem so grateful and emotional.”