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A pet food pantry was largely unheard of when Animal House Project got its start in 2010, aiming to keep pets at home and out of shelters by providing donated pet food and pet care services.

Today, Animal House Project has donated more than 3.5 million pounds of food, and more than 200 organizations doing similar work have opened nationwide. As a pioneer in the industry, Animal House Project helps those organizations with paperwork and guidance to find a niche in the nonprofit world.

MaryBeth Yannessa has led Animal House Project as its president since 2013.

“When I first joined Animal House Project, I was president of a construction company but quickly learned (that) to lead a volunteer organization takes a whole different set of skills than leading paid employees,” Yannessa said. “Their motivations are different, there has to (be) buy-in on the mission statement and have the passion and drive to make a difference in the communities that we serve. But, as with my company, I would never ask a volunteer or an employee to do something that I myself would not do. That is why my favorite saying is ‘There is no I in team.’”

The nonprofit was founded by Nina Frangieh, who ran a no-kill shelter and surveyed those who were surrendering their pets. She found the cost of food and veterinary care were too much for some, prompting them to turn over their pets to the shelter. Animal House Project was born to address that problem and keep pets in homes where they were loved and wanted.

Animal House Project plans to add new initiatives, including a spay/neuter program and low-cost veterinary grants to cover nonemergency pet treatments, in addition to helping smaller rescues with food and, when necessary, placing at-risk pups into loving homes.

Yannessa has won numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2013 Pennsylvania SmartCEO Brava Award; the 2007 Presidential Business Leadership Council Award; the 2006 Presidential Business Leadership Council Award; the 2005 Ronald Reagan National Award; the 2003 National Businesswoman of the Year Award; the 2007–2008 Woman of Excellence Award from NAPEW and many more.

Yannessa was one of the founders and subsequent chairperson for the American Cancer Society “Bark for Life” signature event, for which she served from 2007 to 2010. During her tenure, the Pottstown Bark for Life group raised over $300,000 and more than $2 million for the American Cancer Society. Yannessa also served on the Executive Committee for the Pottstown Relay for Life from 2007 to 2009. She is a past member of the Pottstown Rotary Club.


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