South Valley Personality: Meet Cynthia Stocker

Cynthia Stocker

If I had to use one word to describe Morgan Hill resident (and Santa Clara County social worker) Cynthia Stocker, it would be “passionate.” Or “dedicated.” Or “energetic.” Well, OK, let’s forget that idea because one word doesn’t do justice to this animated, community-engaged woman.
In our modern culture, the term “do-gooder” could convey a somewhat negative connotation. And that’s too bad because it is certainly good what Cynthia does. She’s clearly morally motivated to work for the betterment of her community.
Cynthia first came to my attention through one of her passions, which is helping rid the avenue into our neighborhood of its roadside trash. Cynthia volunteers for the city’s Litter Abatement Program and motorists frequently see Cynthia, her Jeep parked at the side of the road, flashers blinking, wearing her bright orange safety jacket, picking up debris (some, as she suggests, too nasty to mention). Once she fills her bag, she sorts through the trash she’s gathered, separating the recyclables.
The section of road where Cynthia works is not without hazards; she cleans up busy East Dunne Avenue as it curves into the hills on Morgan Hill’s east side. Although she is nimble and sure-footed, it’s hard to not worry about her safety.
Cynthia was a pivotal force in getting the city to install “No Littering” signs in the area. She loves where she lives, and it’s important to her that our neighborhoods are clean and beautiful.
“It’s everybody’s backyard,” she said.
Cynthia is passionate about ridding the streets of litter, working piecemeal at various “hotspots” via 20-minute stints whenever she can find time.
But it’s her love for stray and feral cats that really stirs her.
Now for me, an admitted “dog person”—I’m a sucker for the big old, sloppy affection of canines—I nevertheless found myself swept into the plight of these stray and feral felines, especially as colder weather approaches. Cynthia’s enthusiasm is contagious, and the hundreds of cats who wander under the radar, staying alive by the sheer power of their instincts, are fortunate to have a group of dedicated folks endeavoring to shelter and preserve the lives of these homeless strays.
For 13 years, Cynthia has been an independent volunteer with Morgan Hill’s nonprofit organization Town Cats. The organization works to restore to health and find homes for displaced cats, adopting out 632 cats and kittens in 2013, according to its website, towncats.org.
A typical day for Cynthia begins by feeding her “critters.” Monday through Friday she brings food and water to five colonies of cats located around the city. A colony, Cynthia explained, may consist of anywhere from two to 20 cats. On weekends, her workload increases as she fills in for other volunteers.
When an animal needs to be humanely trapped, Cynthia and her rescuing partner, Keye Luke, a city librarian in San Jose, set out at night with a metal cage, a good supply of bath towels and some tasty sardines for their four-legged prey. Placing small pieces of sardines outside the cage and more inside, they wait in the car for the subject feral cat to appear. Once the animal steps inside the crate, which has been well-lined with newspaper, the trap’s door swings shut.
Cynthia and Keye launch into action, covering the cage with towels—“Most cats REALLY freak out,” Cynthia said—deposit the cage into the car and away they go. The next morning the cat is delivered to the Humane Society of Silicon Valley where the cat is spayed or neutered, de-wormed, rid of fleas, administered vaccines and given a thorough exam. Cats are micro-chipped as well as getting an ear notch identifying them as cats that have been treated.
Cynthia’s husband and their Airedale, Russell, are fine with her passion. For her birthday, Cynthia even threw a fundraiser, raising some $7,000 in support for Town Cats.
“There is so much to be done,” Cynthia said leaning across the table at the local coffee place where we met. “I’ll do this until I take my last breath.”
I have no doubt she means it.

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