Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Karen Livaich

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago? 

I started volunteering at PAWS Chicago a little over seven years ago when my good friend and fellow volunteer Jeanne Durley asked me if I would be interested in volunteering with her.  It sounded to me that this would be a great and rewarding experience, and I can truly say it has been. My love for dogs and not having one at the time also played a major role. I would be helping the animals, and getting a doggy fix as well.


Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

Currently I volunteer for the special events such as; Angel with Tails, The Beach Party, Run for Their Lives, and the Fur Ball. Earlier years I volunteered for the Sunday Adoption Events at Oak Brook Bloomingdales and sometimes at Dog Town.


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

My fondest memory was actually my first volunteer assignment as a dog handler at the Oak Brook Bloomingdales Adoption Event.  I was handling a beautiful Pointer named Spencer. He was such a loving and well-behaved dog that I immediately became attached to him. A couple and their young son on their way home from vacation happened to stop at Oak Brook for lunch and saw the PAWS van parked outside of Bloomingdales. They came into the store to see what was going on and were looking at the dogs available for adoption. As I was speaking with the mother, Spencer laid his head on her foot and it was all great news from then on. The family spent some time with Spencer and decided that he belonged in their family. As the parents were being interviewed their son was talking with Spencer telling him that he is happy that he is going to be his friend and that he can sleep with him every night on the bed. I saw happiness in both their eyes, and the little boy saw tears in my eyes. Suddenly the little boy asked, “Are you crying?” I said, “No,” he said, “Yes you are” and then I told him I was crying because I was so happy to know that Spencer was getting a home and he a best friend.


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

I work in healthcare for Advocate Trinity Hospital as a Manager of the Scheduling and Registration departments. In my role I meet many different people who come to the hospital for care. There are many times that I sit with the patients and talk in hope that I can make them feel relaxed and ease their anxiety. The dogs’ need the same type of love and attention and being able to connect with them and show them that we do care helps them adjust.


Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

I volunteer because I believe in what PAWS stands for. I always knew there were so many homeless pets that needed a home but never really knew how bad the problem was. Knowing how many animals are saved each year because of what we do is so rewarding. When I work the special events I get to meet so many wonderful people who like me opened their door for a dog who needed a home.  Hearing all the touching stories on how their pet found them is what makes what I do worthwhile.


Do you have any pets at home?

I do not have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets of my own but I do have a beautiful six-year-old Saint Bernard named Bella who I adopted from the Illinois Saint Bernard Rescue. Now Bella has a few good furry friends from PAWS Chicago and her best friend is Kaia a black Cocker mix who she spends all her free time with.


Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events that supports animals?

I volunteer for Angelswith Tails, The Beach Party, Run For Their Lives, and the Fur Ball. I also use to volunteer at the Sunday adoption events at Bloomingdales in Oak Brook.  Somewhere down the line I would love to attend one of these great events as a participant.


What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you?  

Volunteering at PAWS has been such a rewarding experience for me. I have learned so much from everyone and have made some great friends along the way (human and furry). This is a great organization to be involved with.