Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Amelia Mutso

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  

I had done a lot of research on Chicago animal rescue organizations before adopting our cats and PAWS was the clear leader in making Chicago a No Kill community. After adopting, and seeing the wonderful resources for animals, amazing volunteers, and extensive community outreach that PAWS did, I wanted to get more involved. My husband and I started fostering kittens for PAWS in the spring of 2010, and then when the opportunity came about this fall to help in the development office, I jumped at the opportunity. I have always enjoyed these kinds of administrative responsibilities and knew it was a way that I could give more back to PAWS Chicago.


Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

I’m currently volunteering in the development office, helping with sorting and processing of gift information (as well as various other tasks). I’ve also been a cat foster volunteer for the past few years and had around 30 kittens stay with us over that time.


Is there a favorite experience that has stood out during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?

I think two instances stick out for me. First of all, one of our first group of foster kittens consisted of two rowdy boys and a runt-sized little girl named Dia. As Dia seemed to always have been beaten out by her brothers for food before, she was quite food-aggressive when she first arrived. Over the time we had her you could see her blossoming and realizing that she didn’t have to ‘claim’ her food anymore as there would always be enough. Seeing her drastic change from a growly runt kitten to a very happy, and snuggly one who would insist on taking a nap on us after each meal, was very rewarding.


The second instance I wasn’t involved with, but seeing Red finally find his forever home after being at PAWS for so long really touched me. While everyone at PAWS loved him, it was time for him to have his own family.


How does what do you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?

I recently finished my PhD in Neuroscience at Northwestern University, studying the effects of chronic pain on the hippocampus, and am now doing some freelance academic writing and editing while looking for science administration jobs here in Chicago. Working in the development office allows me to see immediate results from my work, which is a very nice break from the lab or writing where results can easily take days or weeks! Also, the PhD process has further developed my strong organizational skills, which allow me to work particularly quickly and efficiently when processing gift information at PAWS. I really enjoy the development office and hope I can keep volunteering with them! 


Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?  

I volunteer because each one of us that does help PAWS reach toward its ultimate goal of a No Kill Chicago. One of the best parts of volunteering, besides the adorable cats and dogs, is getting to know the wonderful people who work for PAWS full-time and dedicate all of their time to the success of the organization. All of those that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know are fantastic individuals and highly-motivated.

Do you have any pets at home?

Yes! Our two cats, Calvin and Paisley, are both PAWS alumni. We adopted them in August of 2008 and now we can’t imagine our life without them! They were a bonded pair that had been returned since their previous owner couldn’t take care of them anymore. Originally Calvin’s name was Dirks and came in through a PAWS volunteer that rescued him as a kitten when he had fallen down a storm drain and was stuck. Hearing how dedicated the volunteer was to saving him was simply another example of how wonderful PAWS is. Calvin and Paisley are now the most friendly, spoiled, and playful 6 year old cats because of the dedication of PAWS.


What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you? 

Volunteering at PAWS has continued to strengthen my values of generosity and kindness towards others (including animals), particularly as I am constantly surrounded by individuals who share these core values.