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'For the small animals who have no voice.'

Kimberly's Story

Through the gray, foggy air, the green boughs of a gigantic Christmas wreath could be seen adorning a red barn just off of Midway Road. Christmas music filled the farmyard air, hot chocolate flowed and children tossed balls as adults hovered around a campfire.

Inside the barn, children pet purring kittens as chickens clucked behind a wire wall. Outside the barn, a Scottish Highland calf ran toward its mother to nurse as visitors watched and tossed oranges and apples to the long-haired cows. Miniature snowmen built by children popped up in the yard around the farmhouse. Teenage boys drove four-wheelers pulling children on sleds.

The event on Kathy and Tim Resberg's farm near Adolph was billed as the First Annual Winter Wonderland Event to support Kimberly's Cats and Dogs Foundation.

Kimberly is the late Kimberly Omer-Holland, who worked at Animal Allies as a fundraising events manager. "Animal Allies was her dream job," her mother, Kathy Gannucci-Resberg, told the Budgeteer.

"Kimberly loved animals," said her father, Tim Resberg. "They were her passion." His eyes teared up as he recalled his daughter. "Ever since she was little she had kittens and rabbits. She was just a kindhearted person."

Omer-Holland died of a brain aneurysm on Sept. 26 at age 40. She was a 1992 graduate of Denfeld High School.

"It's still tough to talk about it," said Tim Resberg.

She had worked at Animals Allies since February of 2012. In August of this year she married Scott Omer of Carlton.

On her LinkedIn account, Holland listed her duties at Animal Allies as including the Fur Ball, a dinner and auction and the Walk for Animals event, as well as mini fundraisers during the year. "I am blessed to love my job and know that I make a difference in a pet and human's life every day," she wrote.

Pat Castellano is the education coordinator at Animal Allies. "Kim was a very dear friend and co-worker," Castellano said. "I was thrilled when she came to work for Animal Allies because I knew how passionate she was about her work and her community."

Holland's mother, Gannucci-Resberg, owned The Italian Market on Central Avenue in Spirit Valley, which later became Gannucci's Italian Market. Holland represented her mother's business at the West Duluth Business Club meetings.*

That's how Kristin Ridgewell meet Holland. Ridgewell was the executive director of the West Duluth Development Corporation. Kim was the coordinator of the Miss West Duluth pageant and the Spirit Valley Parade for years, said Ridgewell.

As a former Miss Duluth (1992), Holland had first-hand experience in mentoring the girls. "She inspired them to be role models for other young girls to volunteer and take pride in their West Duluth community," Ridgewell said.

"She had a smile that would light up the grayest day," Ridgewell said. "And she was hugs and kisses around animals."

Amy Miller is the communications and marketing manager for Animal Allies. Miller said that Holland was involved with Animal Allies for many years, first as a volunteer and then as fundraising events manager. "She particularly cared for those animals with special needs," said Miller. "One, Gnome, was a favorite of Kim's. He was a diabetic who was at the shelter for quite some time before being adopted. Those animals that were diabetic, hyperthyroid, older, etc. always had a special place in Kim's heart."

"Her saying was that she was giving a voice for those who had no voice," said Gannucci-Resberg. "We're turning our farm into a sanctuary for cats, dogs and horses or any animals from the shelter. We want to be their back yard."

The family is in the process of registering the foundation with the State of Minnesota as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit

About 80 people participated in the Winter Wonderland event. "The snow was perfect ... This gave us a time to test our wings," Gannucci-Resberg said about the new foundation. "Now we have a history."

Gannucci-Resberg said they want to be able to care for animals when Animal Allies is dealing with hoarding situations. Kimberley's Cats and Dogs will not be a location for the general public to drop off animals, but will be available to assist Animal Allies when that facility has more animals than it can handle.

She said one woman offered donate a cat, but the foundations needs funds, not animals.

"The day she died, we decided to start this foundation," Gannucci-Resberg said. "I had to do something to keep her passion and kindness alive ... her love."

The foundation has a Facebook page, Kimberly's Cats and Dogs. Donations may be sent to 3646 Midway Rd., Hermantown, 55810. Checks must be made out to Kimberley's Cats and Dogs. The foundation's phone number is (218) 348-KIM5, or (218) 348-5465.