By Kim Keith
I used to know all of the dogs and cats names and personalities, and would spend time with them every day. I saw the dogs and cats more than my co-workers or family. Now, when a volunteer mentions a new puppy’s name I have to walk down to the kennels to learn more about the dog they are talking about. Today, I have a more administrative role, which was really upsetting to me at first, because I missed the animals. But when I think about it, I realize that by cultivating volunteer relationships, I’m seeing to it that the animals have more walks, love, and time than I ever could, when I was just one individual working with them. I also have the opportunity to meet, and work with, so many lovely, compassionate people who never fail to lift my spirits and warm my heart.
Sometimes the work is tedious: data entry, email replies, pulling stats; but most of the time, it’s a lot of fun. Our volunteers are some of the kindest people you will ever meet in your life. They never fail to amaze me with their unwavering generosity, and commitment to the animals in our care.
This past Christmas, a teen volunteer, Kevin, decided that he wanted to raise money for Bideawee. He took a neighbor with him, and went around to the homes in his neighborhood to sing Christmas carols, and collect donations for Bideawee. He let us know that he’d be coming in to volunteer on Christmas Eve, which was a huge gift in itself, but the donation was a complete surprise. When he told me how he collected the money, it made me tear up! It was so thoughtful and generous, and will always stay with me.
Another Volunteer, Jen, took it upon herself to bring in a basket of fancy soaps for the bathrooms. She included a card in the basket that said “Dear Bideawee Human Friends, Just a little something to let you know how much I enjoy being a part of the gang. Love, Jen”. It was such a sweet gesture, and it went a long way. Jen is an amazing volunteer! She volunteers her time every Saturday morning to take care of the cats, she runs a ‘Teen Group’ where she supervises our minor volunteers, and she even works with a Bideawee Pet Therapy Volunteer, Tom, and his sweet greyhounds, as a part of Bideawee’s Reading to Dogs program. We are incredibly grateful to have her on our team, and she clearly enjoys the experience just as much.
I have a million stories like these – Donna bringing hot soup for all the staff and volunteers on a cold winter day; Melissa walking through the snow after a storm to help take care of the animals; Pete giving up his weekends to do building repairs at the Adoption Center and Animal Hospital. Our volunteers don’t only give their time to work with the animals, they do wonderful, caring things all the time for the entire Bideawee team, and I feel exceptionally lucky to be working alongside them.