Skip to main content

Mountain Home Magazine

It's All About Second Chances

February is ideal chili weather in the Twin Tiers, but February weather is not so great if you are a dog or a cat without a home. During the annual Wellsboro Winter Celebration, chili fans will have an opportunity to help animals in need, sample an eclectic assortment of chilies, and have a chance to win a basket full of chocolate-themed goodies.

How does that all work? Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries is again hosting the “Chili with a Chance for Chocolate” slice of the Winter Celebration on Saturday, February 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. That businesses up and down Main Street. Tasters purchase a chili-tasting passport, the proceeds of which bene t Second Chance. That passport, which is just five dollars, and can be purchased in advance from the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce and at Penn Oak Realty on the day of the event, allows them to sample each culinary masterpiece being offered at all of the participating businesses. The passport also serves as a voting ballot, with check boxes for the tasters to select their top three favorite chili creations. 

For the sweet end of this gastronomic affair, each chili merchant location will have a basket of chocolate treats just waiting to be won—and every passport holder may enter into each location’s basket drawing. The event will culminate in the drawing of the chocolate basket winners, and the announcement of which chilies were deemed, by popular vote, as the favorites.

Funded exclusively through donations, and staffed entirely by volunteers, Second Chance is the realization of a dream that began for Sue Cook in 2000, when she and her daughter volunteered at Best Friends animal shelter in Utah. She decided, after two seasons of volunteering out West, to actively pursue the creation of a similar organization of her own. She brought her ambitions home to Tioga County, where some animal- loving friends who shared her vision collaborated to rescue stray and abandoned companion animals. Eventually, the organization received a gift of land for a home base. A variety of ongoing fund-raisers, coupled with monetary bequests from local philanthropists who believed in Sue’s dream, at long last facilitated construction of the Heading Home Center on 725 Gee Road in Middlebury Township. Second Chance officially opened the doors of its new building in September of 2016.

Inside the bright and warm Heading Home Center, Sue and Jim Howe welcome visitors. Cats of all sizes lounge in one of two furnished cat colony rooms, while kittens and new mothers enjoy solitude in the nursery. Dogs stay in individual kennels with radiant heated floors. They have access to the outdoors, and volunteers walk and play with them several times a day. Above the interior walls, a wire tunnel catwalk spans a portion of the building’s framework, allowing cats to freely wander atop the wall.

Jim, who is the current president of Second Chance, explains a concept mosaic sketched on the wall near the front door. Donors sponsor or adopt small memorial tiles, he says. Once enough tiles have been adopted, they will be set in place to reveal an eight-foot by eight-foot “Voices Mural.”

Stray and abandoned animals brought to the shelter are checked for health and temperament, and treated accordingly. Prospective and lost pets are photographed and featured on the group’s Facebook page, as well as on

Besides taking in wayward or abandoned pets, Second Chance offers several assistance programs designed to help keep pets in their homes. Dog licenses are for sale at Heading Home, and the organization provides educational outreach programs and an annual low-cost rabies clinic. Second Chance relies solely on the community for donations, so involvement with the public is vital to them. Sue and Jim and everyone in the Second Chance family welcome guests to the Heading Home Center, and are always looking for volunteers of all kinds to work with the animals and help with building projects and fundraisers. Their vision is to make a difference for animals—and all life—through example, advocacy, and outreach.

So how do you like your chili? How about with a side of chocolate and a chance to help the animals? 

Explore Elmira 2024
Explore Corning 2024
Experience Bradford County 2024
Explore Wellsboro, Fall/Winter 2023-2024