Help us care for our shelter animals until they find their forever homes...



Sammie's Friends Board of Directors

Cheryl Wicks, President and Curt Romander, Vice President, and Treasurer

Beloved Sammie made such a powerful impact on Cheryl and Curt that they wanted to give back to the animal community by creating a non-profit dedicated to caring for and saving the lives of less fortunate animals. Starting in 2001 they made it their mission to completely change the lives of as many animals as they could. In that one year alone, they had created a volunteer program at the Nevada County Animal Shelter, and had spent over $30,000 of their own money to provide medical treatment for the animals that would otherwise be euthanized.  In 2004 they received non-profit status for Sammie's Friends so they could raise money to provide for medical care of the shelter animals.  In 2005 they expanded the program to provide medical care for animals in the community belonging to low income people who needed help to provide for their animals.

After Sammie's passing in 2007, they decided to make an even bigger impact to keep his spirit alive, and what better way to do so then run the shelter. They began the long journey and entered into negotiations with the county. In July of 2010, all of Curt and Cheryl's hard work had paid off and they signed a contract and began operating the Nevada County Animal Shelter.  Since that day in March of 2001, Cheryl and Curt and all that has become known as Sammie's Friends has saved the lives of 25,000 animals.  100's if not 1000's have joined in to help through volunteering, donating, providing goods, writing grants and planning events.   It's awesome and totally amazing.

In 2017 alone Sammie's Friends has provided medical treatment for more than 2,800 animals, and the euthanasia rate at the shelter is less than 1%! When they are not putting in countless hours saving the lives of under privileged animals, you can find these two enjoying time together,along with their 2-year-old pittie, Chula (Chu Chu for short).

Suesan Larsen, Secretary

Suesan moved to Nevada County 18 years ago, relocating from the San Diego area.   Suesan obtained her Nursing degree from the Southwestern College in San Diego; she worked as an RN for 18 years.  Suesan then switched to veterinary medicine completing her course work  through Purdue University.   She worked as a  Registered Veterinary Technician at Mother Lode Veterinary Hospital in Grass Valley for 12 years.  After a short work break Suesan now works at AJA Video Systems in Grass Valley in the tech world.  Animal welfare is still an extremely important part of her life, and says, "Helping them is like a ministry to me".  I am proud to be part of the board of Sammie's Friends".  She is an avid runner, enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with her family  2 kids (grown) 1 grandchild and a very supportive husband. Her pets consist of 3 dogs, Lilly, Jack and Annie, 5 cats, Brie, Hope, Middy,  Angel, and Helen, one horse Khrista, and don't forget  the fish!

Jon Peek, D.V.M, Board Member

Originally from Claremont Dr. Peek graduated from the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. After leaving a multi-animal practice as an Equine Veterinarian, Dr. Peek started working for Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital in 1967. From 1975 until 2008 Dr. Peek owned and ran the hospital.  He has been a CVMA member since 1966, CVMA president in 2001-02 and was a CVMA board member for eight years. Dr.Peek was also chair of the CVMA House of Delegates and has served on 20 CVMA committees or task forces, including the Agriculture Committee, Disaster Preparedness Committee, Finance Committee, Legislative Committee, and the Certified Veterinary Assistant Committee. He not only serves on the Board for Sammie's Friends but also on the Board for the Western Sierra Medical Clinic. In his spare time Dr. Peek loves spending time in the great outdoors on his kayak, traveling and exploring new beers, and spending time with his two chihuahuas, Roxie and Lucy and his wife, Leslie, a Registered Veterinary Technician.

As the governing body of a nonprofit, the board of directors or board of trustees fulfills a variety of roles and responsibilities. Among its many duties, the board: Oversees the financial operations of the organization. Maintains the legal and ethical standing of the organization and its staff.


Michelle Seary, Board Member

Michelle retired after 30 years as a chemist and splits her time between Grass Valley and the Bay Area.  She is passionate about animal welfare, especially spay/neuter assistance for companion animals and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs for community cats.  Michelle is currently the feline spay/neuter coordinator for Sammie’s Friends and continues to be active with TNR around Nevada County.  Michelle and her husband enjoy outdoor activities and music, and share their home with a few formerly homeless felines.

Miranda Leach, Board Member

Miranda Leach aka "Mandy" started her career in Animal Health in 2006 through the 49er R.O.P. program. She worked with Veterinarians Dr. Ron Rosner and Dr. Denny Nolet at Pine Creek Veterinary hospital starting as a kennel assistant at 18, cleaning kennels and walking the dogs. She quickly progressed to an enthusiastic and compassionate veterinary technicians assistant for the next 8 years.  During this same time Miranda attended Sierra College majoring in English and History and volunteered with many of our local animal rescue organizations. In 2014 Miranda took an internship with MWI Animal Health assisting veterinary professionals and MWI Territory Managers in California, Nevada, and Utah. Miranda is currently working with MWI Animal Health as a Territory Manager helping Veterinarians create healthier futures from the Sacramento area up to Redding Ca and doing relief work on the weekends at Pine Creek Veterinary Clinic when she can. Sammie's Friends has always been an organization that she has worked closely with and has been proud of advocating for.  Miranda is looking forward to what she can bring to our organization as a board member with her years of experience in animal health and business combined. She and her Fiancé Jon Viola live in Grass Valley with their adopted one eyed cat Corona and their rescued dog Leighton and are planning their wedding for the end of this summer in July while Miranda finishes her B.A. in business.

Rita Stevens, Board Member

After a long career in the Bay Area as a Broadcast Journalist in Radio and Television, I moved with my husband Michael into a home we built in Cascade Shores, Nevada City.  He was officially retired, but I guess I couldn’t shake the news business out of my system and ended up working as News Director and Morning News Anchor at the local station KNCO.  I was there for 18 years, from 1999 until 2017  before I finally retired.  The best part about my job was the daily interviews that I got to do with local people. That’s where I met Cheryl Wicks and became familiar with Sammie’s Friends. I also adopted my dog (I named him Sam)  from the shelter. To this day he is still my best friend and walking buddy and brings me joy every day. After I retired it just seemed natural that I should work with Sammie’s Friends and help Cheryl and Curt continue to do the good work they have accomplished, and I consider it an honor to be a member of  the Board of Directors for Sammie’s Friends.


Sammie Shar-pei

March 31, 1991 - February 23, 2007

The inspiration for Sammie's Friends, a non-profit founded by Cheryl Wicks and Curt Romander to provide medical care for the animals at the Nevada County Animal Shelter.

Because of this amazing creature many animals' lives have been saved in this community. We, the animals and humans alike, are fortunate to have had him touch our lives.

Read more about Sammie and how he inspired his parents to save the lives of thousands of pets... CLICK HERE!

Sammie’s Friends Vision

A safe and caring place for neglected, abandoned, and abused animals to be cared for and rehabilitated, when necessary, and adopted as quickly as possible into loving homes.

Sammie’s Friends Organizational Values

~ Commitment for doing the best things for the animals

~ Sound fiscal policy

~ Commitment to excellence in everything we do

~ Respect for all -animals, volunteers staff and the public

~ A high value placed on safety for the animals,

     volunteers, staff and the public

~ Open and honest communication, focused on mutual

     problem solving and follow-up

~ An open collaborative management style

~ Strong commitment to teamwork