Our Directors


Syd Banch, Founder & Director of Fundraising

While looking to add a dog to her family in 1998, a relative told Syd to rescue a dog. She started calling local vets and asking if there were rescues in her area as she was looking for a Golden Retriever. After a few calls, Syd was given the information to the Rescue – Club Pet Adoption. She went out to look at dogs and they did not have one, but said they would call if one came in. In a week or two, they called and she went back. It was love at first sight with Toby. After seeing the dogs in the shelter and talking to the owner of the rescue, her heart melted knowing there were so many dogs people didn't want. From that day forward, Syd began fundraising and doing events to educate people on the over population of animals in the area. Almost 20 years later, Helping PAWS continues to raise funds for rescues all across the country through online auctions on Facebook. Syd’s dog family includes Falcora, Louise, Petey, Lacy (foster fail), Ottis (hospice foster), and Allie (her most recent foster failure).

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Cari Harris, Director of Finance

Cari had a passion for helping animals at a very young age,  but her heart has always been drawn to helping those in need. Cari had volunteered at shelter here and there as a young teen but really found her calling in 2014 when she starting regularly volunteering at a local Humane Society. That is where she was introduced to other animal rescues and found Helping Paws. She began volunteering with Helping Paws in 2016 and became the Treasurer in 2017. Cari loves to foster but doesn't do well as she has already foster failed twice! Right now she has two pups, Barley, a German Shepherd Mix, and Boscoe, a boxer and Helping Paws Alum! Her husband Matt also supports her passion for rescue and helps with events, transports, and other odd jobs when needed! They have two children, Matthew Jr and Charlie, both love animals, love doing rescue stuff with her, and she hopes one day they will have the passion she does to help animals in need. Cari is proud to be a part of the Helping Paws family and is so excited to see us grow! 


Cheyenne hunter, medical coordinator

Bio coming soon...


Lucy koss, foster coordinator

Bio coming soon...


Melissa Albano-barth, event coordinator

Melissa is the Director of Events and Volunteer Coordinator for Helping Paws, and has been involved with the rescue for 5 years.  A native of Ft. Wayne, IN and a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, Melissa grew up in a home full of animals. 

Event planning for philanthropic organizations has always been of special interest to her, and her experience includes managing large scale charity and social events for an entertainment company based in Los Angeles, CA. Working as the Director of Events allows Melissa to reach out to local business owners for financial and in-kind support, giving her the opportunity to share the mission of Helping Paws.

Melissa's particular areas of interest in animal welfare include rescue, transporting, and advocating to improve the quality of life for those animals outside of the shelter system. A firm believer in the importance of Spay and Neuter, she believes that educating the community and working closely with other animal welfare organizations throughout the city is crucial in the fight to end the unnecessary euthanasia of companion animals. 

In 2001, she officially adopted her first foster kitty named Gabby, and has been adding to her family ever since. Melissa and her husband Jason are local business owners, and live in Indianapolis with their two rescue dogs and two rescue cats: Sonny, Bailey, Charley and Halley.



Missy Patton, Public Relations Specialist

 Missy Patton is the Public Relations Specialist for Helping Paws. She is also part of the fundraising and events teams. Missy dedicates her life to animal welfare with a special spot in her heart for senior dogs. When she’s not volunteering with Helping Paws, you will find her at her full time job. Missy is the Director of Marketing and Philanthropy for Spay-Neuter Services of Indiana.

Missy has been a Helping Paws supporter for several years, but she became an active volunteer just two short years ago. She finds joy and fulfillment by helping animals in need. Missy states that she not only enjoys rescuing dogs and cats, but she’s blessed to do so among her best friends.

The “Patton Pack” consists of 5 senior pups, two of which are Helping Paws “foster failures” Chesney, Faith, Pacer, Iggy and Indy are so loved!


lee Sprong, adoption coordinator