BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Home is not always where you were born or where your family is from. Sometimes you can be thousands of miles from family and feel more ‘at home’ than you ever imagined possible. Michael Povey is home, despite being born and raised in England. Michael and his wife, Stephanie, proudly call Mena home.
Michael spent his childhood in England, but after joining the Air Force for 12 years, Michael traveled and saw a lot of the world. After the Air Force, Michael worked in the space industry as a parts equipment manager. His job took him across Europe, including a ten year stint in Germany. He lived in Scotland and London as well. Thirty years ago, Michael moved to the States, much in part to his job. “I was working in the space industry and had large companies that were my customers all over the world. I had received an opportunity to come to America to work and I jumped on it,” remembers Michael.
When he arrived in the States, Michael knew that it wouldn’t be for a brief time, but he wanted to make it his home. With this desire in mind, he moved forward with the process of becoming an American citizen. “I was really blessed because I was working for a company that had an immigration lawyer and they assisted me in getting the green card and then I applied for citizenship.” Michael wanted to be here and wanted to be a part of everything that comes with being a citizen of the United States, “I wanted to be able to vote, as human beings we can’t complain with what is going on if we don’t let our voices be heard,” says Michael.
Currently, Michael serves as the Humane Society of the Ouachitas [HSO] President. Michael loves dogs and caring for them, but this wasn’t always the case. “I used to be scared stiff of dogs. I helped a milk man on his milk round and every Saturday we went to this housing estate. Each time, at the edge of the estate, this Jack Russell was waiting for me and as soon as my foot touched the ground, he started barking at me,” recalls Michael laughing. His love for dogs actually came from Stephanie, an avid dog lover herself. In his words, Stephanie was the dog nut at first, not himself. “When we first started seeing each other, she had 9 rescue dogs in her apartment. In order to see if I was ‘the one’ she gave me the Doberman test. She had a Doberman at the time and so we sat on the couch, me on one end, she on the other, and the dog in between us,” says Michael smiling.
When Michael and Stephanie got married they were living in Los Angeles and he was looking to retire soon. Through much looking their eyes fell on Mena, “Stephanie and her dad had looked for an investment opportunity and had looked in Mena before. The more we looked the more we wanted to be here.” Although he has traveled the world and seen more than most, Michael says Mena is home. “At last glance I had traveled to 47 of the states, I flew over 3 million miles with American while working, but Mena is home. Home is where you hang your hat,” says Michael. After moving to the area, Michael and Stephanie were really impressed with the way of life and the caring people. “People have really opened their hearts to us here and we feel that we have been shown a lot of hospitality.”
Although Michael does have an accent that most people recognize around town, most recognize him because of his involvement with the HSO. On any given day somebody can see Michael around town in truck delivering or picking up dogs, or he can be found at local businesses for pet adoptions. He loves his work with the HSO and believes that it serves a good cause, “There are a lot of cases of neglect and cruelty and we have the opportunity to help bring these dogs in, take care of them temporarily, and then help them find a permanent home. It is very rewarding,” says Michael proudly. The HSO has recently come into partnership with another no-kill shelter in Wisconsin and they have been transporting 70-90 dogs a month over the last couple of months. “We are thankful for our partnership. There is such a desire to adopt dogs there and we can help them while they help us get permanent homes.” Recently at an adoption their partner hosted, they adopted 100 dogs out in less than a couple of hours!
Along with his current service to the HSO, Michael is involved with bringing smiles to the community with a couple of his own dogs. “Each Wednesday I take a couple of my dogs to the local nursing homes and assisted living centers for pet therapy. Many of the people don’t get many visitors and so this is a way to cheer them up.” Wednesdays are a very popular time at these facilities, one of the facilities in particular has a fan club. “Each Wednesday that I get there they are waiting out in the lobby for us. I can’t hardly get inside without them coming to see the dogs. It’s a great feeling,” Michael says. In addition to his service at HSO, Michael is also an advocate for CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocate]. When he isn’t busy with his dogs, Michael travels to Fort Smith to play in a bowling league.
Mena may not be where Michael is from, but his smile and warm personality make anybody feel like he has been here his entire life. “We love it here. People know me and care, you’re a somebody here.”