2022 VBSPCA Compassion Award Recipients: Tonya & Rob Deveau
There are animal people, and then there are Tonya and Rob Deveau. When asked what role animals play in her life, Tonya is quick to explain, “the biggest role! Animals are the whole reason I started my business.”
The Deveaus are the family behind My Vegan Sweet Tooth, the all-vegan Virginia Beach bakery they opened in 2010. You’ll find their mission plainly stated on their website: to help animals while providing delicious vegan treats. All tips from customers go directly to five local animal charities including the Virginia Beach SPCA. Their continued generosity is being honored with the 2022 Compassion Award, which will be presented to Tonya and Rob at our Wags and Whiskers Gala on Saturday, April 2, 2022.
Being named the recipients of the Compassion Award came as a shock to Tonya. “I’m just trying to help the helpless any way I can,” she explains. “I can’t stand to think there are animals who need help and go without.”
In addition to their financial contributions, Tonya and Rob’s support of the VBSPCA spans more than two decades. Tonya began volunteering 23 years ago, donating her time to perform a variety of tasks including wildlife transport and cleaning the cat cabins at a local PetSmart that houses adoptable VBSPCA felines. As a couple, Tonya and Rob have fostered countless kittens for the VBSPCA. They’ve adopted plenty of our felines as well, including the six cats they currently have at home.
“Tonya has always had a heart for animals, and it just kind of grows on you,” says Rob. “To see her care for cats and bring them into the house… it’s kind of rewarding.”
The financial donations the Deveaus make to our shelter are directed to provide veterinary care for animals that have more extensive medical needs. By covering those costs, the animals have a better chance at finding a home: the animals get the care they so desperately need without adding large costs to their adoption fees.
Their philanthropy model – to divert all tips to local animal charities – inspires a sense of compassion in our community, a core component of the VBSPCA mission. It’s not only the customers who act compassionately by giving, but the employees of My Vegan Sweet Tooth as well. “When I hire them, they know they’re not getting tips,” says Tonya. “They’re there for the right reasons.”
The Deveaus have passed their compassion for animals to their two children as well. “I have a lot of great memories [at the VBSPCA], but I think my proudest was when my daughter became old enough to volunteer and was at the shelter for several years,” says Tonya. As for Rob’s fondest memories, he has enjoyed the many foster kittens they have welcomed over the years. “It’s been fun,” he says. “It really warms your heart to help those little things that need a home.”
“Animals give so much unconditional love. They make me incredibly happy, and helping them in any way I can is really rewarding.” – Tonya Deveau