Editor’s Note: Dr. Larry McAfee volunteers at a community event in 2016
There comes a time in life when no matter how generous you are able to be with your wealth, giving your time and talent is equally, or maybe even more, impactful. Dr. Larry McAfee is there and can articulate exactly why he spends so much time volunteering for various causes even after retirement.
“What’s really strong in my mind is that being 70 years old – I want to stay young, especially in my mind. I want to stay active and engaged. It’s better than sitting around with the TV remote all day,” he said. “They have done a lot of studies that show if you socialize and stay in touch with people, you live longer.”
Aside from swimming five days a week at the YMCA to keep himself, as he puts it, “aging with grace and dignity,” McAfee – whose father founded McAfee Animal Hospital in Valparaiso in 1922 – volunteers his time and expertise by sitting on various local boards, and participating in fundraising events that McAfee Animal Hospital hosts.
McAfee retired from the vet practice after 40 years of serving the community but is proud of the culture that all three generations of McAfee veterinarians have instilled there. The act of giving back to the community is part of their daily practice, as the hospital hosts blood drives and fundraisers for multiple animal-related causes throughout the county.
At this point, though, McAfee finds that the giving of his time is most impactful and rewarding.
He was born and raised in Porter County and feels a strong pull to ensure the preservation of certain aspects of it for future generations. Things like farmland, animal habitats, and historical areas.
“I have set two main goals as I age in Porter County. One – animals, all things great and small, of course. The other big one for me is the environment,” McAfee said.
He remains a founding board member of two animal-related causes close to his heart: The Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory Board and the Porter County Animal Welfare Board.
“The Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory Board is all about wild animals. We were formed to protect them in Porter County and to educate people,” he said.
As the county continues to develop and grow residentially, wildlife habitat diminishes or changes.
“If you have a raccoon in your garbage can, what do you do? If you find a hawk with a broken wing, what do you do? Our purpose is to educate on how to coexist with wild animals,” he said.
Citizens can learn more about that by visiting their website.
The Porter County Animal Welfare Board supports the efforts of the Porter County Animal Shelter – a no-kill facility that is likely the only shelter in Northwest Indiana that regularly makes intake and outcome data available to the public online. The transparency is important for public education.
When it comes to the environment, McAfee thinks about two other important things in his life: his heritage and his grandkids.
“I’m on the Porter County Parks Foundation board because I care about our outdoor spaces. I’ve got grandkids and I’d like them to be able to see farm animals, learn how milk comes out of a cow, and how eggs come from chickens,” he said with a smile in his voice. “I want to protect whatever land we have left in Porter County.”
McAfee has been involved with several groups over the years that have tried to positively influence and plan for land use in the county.
He also is a member of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society. While McAfee appreciates the rich history of the valley serving as a crossroads for Indians and animals who made homes in or near the rivers and marshes, he especially has a penchant for the Baum’s Bridge area.
“I had a German aunt who was born in 1921 unexpectedly at Baum’s Bridge Inn,” he reminisced. “My Oma and Opa were in Chicago, and traveled down there to visit and, well, the baby decided to come, so they had her there.”
McAfee has been recognized over the decades for his community involvement (he’s partial to the causes of the Porter County United Way because, he says, the organization touches every person in some way), but says he does what he does not for recognition. And while it’s nice to stay active to stay young, he has other reasons for giving back.
“Porter County and Valparaiso have obviously been really good to me, so it feels good to give back. When you’ve been blessed with a good business, you just make sure to give back when you can.”
To read more about McAfee’s recognitions and accomplishments (not the least of which is the Sagamore of the Wabash – Indiana’s highest honor), visit the Valpo.Life articles over the years here https://valpo.life/?s=larry+mcafee
For more information about McAfee Animal Hospital, their services, giveback events, and doctors, visit https://mcafeeah.com/.