What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
Like many people who have a special place in their hearts for animals, I was curious about PAWS Chicago for quite some time. When I lived in Lincoln Park, I always checked out the ‘Angels with Tails’ events in the neighborhood but was afraid that being around animals without loving homes would be too much for my heart to bear. Now, I tell our guests how gratifying it is and that volunteers receive so much more then we could ever possibly give. I encourage people all the time to try it because there are so many ways you can share your time, talents and treasures!
I have been a volunteer since August 2010. I have a huge heart for all animals but my place is in Kitty City. Although being unemployed is awful, it has been a blessing to me in ways I never imagined. I spend many hours at PAWS, knowing that once I find the right teaching position, I will have to cut back on something I consider part of my life’s purpose. Volunteering at PAWS is a special experience in an exceptional environment. In all of my work and other volunteer experiences, there have been very few environments where I can honestly say, make you feel motivated to give as much as you can and you feel great about what you are doing.
Is there a favorite experience or fondest memory that has stood out or touched your heart during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
One of the first of many “favorite cats” I fell in love with is a big orange and white FIV positive cat named Big Tuna. It took everything in me to remain hopeful that he would get adopted because of his health issue. Whenever I spent time with him, he would lie in my arms on his back, put his front paws around my neck and give me kisses! He was eventually adopted and although I still miss him, I learned through him that there is a potential match for every cat or dog at PAWS. As volunteers, knowing an animal’s personality and needs, combined with establishing a personable rapport with our guests, will hopefully amount to meeting the needs of both, through an adoption-our ultimate goal.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago?
People often tell me how great I am for volunteering at PAWS. I always respond with, “Are you kidding! I’m the fortunate one. I receive so much more then I could possibly give.” I have volunteered for every shift – from early morning where we do some serious cleaning and get to spend quality time with the cats and the great and supportive staff, to weekends when we are super busy. Every shift has its own rewards and I’ve always felt great about whatever I’ve done. There’s a place and a way for each of us to give in the most comfortable and suitable way.
Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?
Right now I have two cats, who each found me! Avila (9) found me at a church called St. Teresa of Avila. Pretty (16) is a Himalayan who everyone said was soooo pretty, and so that became her name. I am sure there will come a time when I will adopt from PAWS – I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the FIV cats.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?
I have been a cheerleader at the “Run for Their Lives,” worked a few shifts at the most recent Adopt-A-Thon, and sold raffle tickets at this year’s Fur Ball. The ball was amazing!
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is that the culture of any environment, work or volunteer, is crucial to my success. I was motivated to take on more responsibilities because I found through being at PAWS, that I feel good about myself, needed, appreciated and productive. In a leadership role, I want others to have the same experience. Now, if only I could now find a job that values and upholds the same principles, I would be complete!