Laura Raikes – President / Founder
Since Laura was a young girl she would help her dad in farming and started rescuing all kinds of animals from bats to dogs, cats and even bottle feeding goats and lambs. One of the rescued cats was Igor who had only one eye after an attack by a crow. He is still a much-loved family pet back home in Wales.After moving to Mexico her cat Coco was run over, as many of the drivers in Mexico see cats as a pest and make no attempt to avoid them if they see them on the road. Laura decided she wanted to help address the problem of too many stray cats in Mexico, which leads them to be cruelly treated. A week after Coco's death, Laura heard a distressed kitten in the jungle. She rescued him and named him Rambo. Ever since that first kitten rescue, Laura has continued her work rescuing kittens and spaying/neutering feral cats in an effort to help the animal population in the Riviera Maya. Each kitten that is rescued is in dedication to her very own lost pet, Coco. Also working on reducing the population, Laura began a spay and neuter clinic working with Kelley Anthony and veterinarian Claudia Lewy to spay and neuter feral cats, rescued kittens, and pets whose owners simply couldn't afford to sterilize their cats. Laura realized more needed to be done and asked for support from more vets. Before long, seven vets in Playa were volunteering in the spay/neuter program for cats organized by Laura. As the support grew for the project, Laura began to meet many other dedicated volunteers and saw the need and opportunity for something bigger. Therefore, in dedication to Coco, Coco's Cat Rescue was created.
Ebon Bouri and Jenny Pill
Ebon Bouri and Jenny Pill are both from the UK. They met while studying Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and have now been together for over fifteen years. They came to Playa del Carmen in 2009, where they were involved with the first meetings of Cocos Cat Rescue (now Cocos Animal Welfare).
Ebon and Jenny have travelled all over Central America, but love the Yucatan most of all, and are now based in Puerto Morelos. They have run several unconventional businesses together, including a software export company and a not-for-profit creative arts company. They are currently co-writing children's fiction, alongside being a contemporary dancer (Jenny), and providing computer services (Ebon). They are good at being resourceful and innovative, and hope to bring these skills to Cocos.
Ebon and Jenny have rescued cats and dogs, volunteered with spay/neuter clinics, and have helped to socialise kittens. They are honoured to be involved with Cocos Animal Welfare, and will do their best to aid and support Cocos' strategies and programmes.
Lorraine Reynolds is originally from Montreal, Canada and is now enjoying life in the Riviera Maya with her husband, JP, five cats and two dogs.
After attending Pratt Institute in NYC as a Fine Arts major, Lorraine worked 35 years in the airline industry as a flight attendant for Air Canada. During those years she also represented her colleagues as a Union officer, in both elected and appointed positions. Along with flying duties, her Union responsibilities over the years included contract negotiations, arbitrations, seniority mergers and generally protecting the rights of individual coworkers.
Since her retirement in 2012, Lorraine has continued to use her acquired skills by volunteering at Cocos Animal Welfare, helping with fundraisers, feeding scores of visiting vets and volunteers, and promoting CAW to the community, all combined with a little salsa dancing for fun. She is now looking forward to contributing further to CAW having accepted a position on their Board of Directors. Lorraine can be found on Facebook or contacted through CAW at Lorraine@cocosanimalwelfare.org.
Sherry StevensBorn and raised in Evansville, Indiana, Sherry studied Interior Design, Graphics and Marketing at the University of Kentucky and competed in Championship level equestrian events. Upon graduation, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia to begin her own mail order company, Scintilla, representing designers and craftsmen of artisan lighting, home décor and jewelry. Looking for a change of lifestyle, Sherry moved to Playa del Carmen in 2001 where she co-owns a web based travel planning company and works as a Real Estate Advisor in the Riviera Maya. Sherry has always been passionate about animals and dedicates herself to supporting local animal efforts. When she arrived in Playa del Carmen in 2001, the street animal crisis was heartbreaking. Luckily, in 2001 she read a small article in a National Geographic magazine about YARF. Yucatan Animal Rescue Foundation. She got involved right away. The next year YARF dismantled and ViDAS was born. She soon became the Playa del Carmen organizer for the annual ViDAS clinic, and has never looked back. She sits as an local advisor on ViDAS board of Directors. When Coco's Cat Rescue A.C. was born in March of 2009, (Now Coco's Animal Welfare, A.C., NGO) she became involved immediately. Sherry's commitment, goals and connection to the local community where Coco's and ViDAS does their work, makes her a helpful addition to both organizations boards.
Maureen and her husband Joe are part-time residents in Playa del Carmen. Maureen has been involved with Coco’s since it was just an idea. She assists with fostering, promoting special events, fundraising, financial records assistance, grant writing, online auction management, and chaperoning dogs to the US.
Back in Chicago, Maureen works with Special Needs children and adults at the Chicago Park District. She also volunteers with the Animal Welfare League, cleaning, caring for, and promoting adoptions for dogs and cats at Petco stores.
Maureen & Joe’s family Alicia, Jim & their Mexican-born grandchildren, Leila and Frankie reside in Playa full time. Maureen & Joe have two dogs, Betsy & Belle (a former Mexican street pup). They have also supported & cared for a feral cat colony at their home in Playa.del Carmen for 8 years.
Sherwood AndersSherwood Anders has been an animal lover her entire life. She got her first dog when she was a year old, and rescued her first cat at age six. Growing up, she wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian, but followed a path into advertising, marketing and fundraising instead. She and her husband Bob first visited the Riviera Maya in 1996, and returned in 2001 and discovered Akumal during a snorkel trip. It was love at first sight and they bought a condo there in 2003. Since 2007, they have been dividing their time between Akumal and California, driving over 3,000 miles each way with their dogs, whom they call Beachmutts. Sherwood had rescued a stray dog from her neighborhood in San Francisco, named Missy, and has adopted five beachmutts from the area – Mr. Cejas, Bella, Solavina, Mambo and Marysol - and four cats. She has also fostered numerous dogs and cats and kittens and even an iguana. She began volunteering with VIDAS in 2005 and has participated in numerous spay/neuter clinics, as well as with several animal organizations in the area, including escorting several dogs to the US to their forever homes. Sherwood’s love of animals, the Riviera Maya and her background in marketing and fundraisingare now combined to allow her to follow all of her passions at one time with Coco’s Animal Welfare. She and Bob currently share their homes with three beachmutts – Bella, Mambo and Marysol – and four junglecats – Miska, Juba, Peanut and Mango. Sherwood recently established BeachmuttS.org, a 501c3 non profit organization in California. Its mission is to raise awareness and education of animal welfare and care, assist animal rescue efforts in the US and Mexico, and work to combine the causes in the two countries.