Singer donates afternoon for a good cause

Thanks to Shanna for this article!

August 20, 2002

Matchbox twenty lead singer Rob Thomas and his wife, Marisol, spent Sunday at Pets Alive in Middletown.
By Sandy Tomcho
Times Herald-Record

It's not every day a rock star volunteers to corral chickens.

Rob Thomas, lead singer of rock band matchbox twenty, and his wife, model Marisol Maldonado, spent Sunday afternoon grooming horses and petting dogs at Middletown's Pets Alive. The no-kill animal sanctuary takes in neglected, abused and abandoned domestic and farm animals.

The Thomases donated their time as part of a charity auction.

Schoolteacher Sarah Martinez of Weehawken, N.J., was the winner, and spent $3,250 to spend the day volunteering with the Thomases. Martinez heard about Pets Alive through matchbox twenty's Web site,

"I was interested in volunteering, plus I've always been a great fan of the band, so I cleaned up today," Martinez said. "It's my fourth time here, and today I've been here since noon. He's awesome, and now I know he's a great person. He's amazing."

The Thomases are also putting together a calendar featuring pictures of them working with and caring for the animals.

"He's a genuine human being," said Sara Whalen, director of Pets Alive. "He's doing a calendar for us that's coming out in November and we have reservations for 364 so far."

"We started brainstorming with Sara about what we could do," Thomas said. "Then we incorporated the auction with the calendar, and it turned out great."

Matchbox twenty has sold a total of 15 million copies of its albums, "Mad Season" and "Yourself or Someone Like You," since 1996. Thomas co-wrote and sang Santana's 1999 chart-topping hit "Smooth," for which he won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. He met his wife on the set of the song's video.

The couple found the sanctuary in December while surfing the Internet for a worthwhile charity to which they could donate the band's first touring van.

"I'm so happy here. I'd been looking for a shelter closer to home, a no-kill shelter, and there was something about Sara's Web site and note that convinced us," Maldonado said. "She truly cares."

Martinez has previously volunteered at Pets Alive, but this afternoon was definitely special.

"I got him to talk to one of my friends on the phone and I was taping it and he was waving at the camera saying, 'Hi, I'm talking to you,'" Martinez said. "Oh, God. It's been the most incredible day."

Maldonado said she and Thomas plan to spend more time at Pets Alive during the fall, when they aren't traveling as much.

"It brings so much joy to our lives. We want to come at least once a month because we feel fulfilled when we leave," Maldonado said. "I've worked with animals my whole life and I've never seen them so happy."

For more information about Pets Alive, or if you're interested in buying a calendar, visit or e-mail or call 386-9738.