What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?
Back in 2011 a friend suggested I join the Professional Board since I loved animals. I was new to the city and looking for ways to meet new people, and after doing some research on PAWS I knew it was a perfect fit. I’ve been on both the Professional Board and Team PAWS since 2011, and a volunteer since 2012.
Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?
I spend most of my time in Dog Town as Level 3. I love working with the dogs who are in need a bit more training, as well as taking them on Fun Runs. Once a month I try and get to 26th Street and help out wherever needed, and I’ve even dabbled in fostering! To date I’ve fostered 33 animals, 32 kittens and 1 dog. I’m also a mentor to new volunteers at the Adoption Center and to new members of Team PAWS.
Is there one favorite experience or fondest memory/animal story that has stood out or touched your heart during your time as a volunteer at PAWS Chicago?
My absolute favorite memory was running in the 2012 marathon to support Team PAWS. I had on my singlet and ran with a fellow Team PAWS member, and for 26.2 miles we had people cheering “Go Team PAWS”, “Thank you for saving animals”, “my dog is from PAWS!” and so much more. At the end of the race I was more tired from acknowledging all the supporters who were cheering me on than I was from the actual race! Marathons are tough, but knowing that with all the fundraising we did that animals were saved, and that it was so supported in the community, it was just the best feeling ever!
How does what do you do for a career apply to what you do as a volunteer?
My career in marketing definitely helps out with my volunteer work, being able to “market” our furry friends and the mission of PAWS to help drive in donations and spread awareness on all the great things PAWS has accomplished.
Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? What do you enjoy the most about your experiences a volunteer?
The main reason I volunteer at PAWS is to see that red bandana put on a smiling pup or kitten. I know that that animal is going to bring a lifetime of happiness to that person/family, and I’m so excited for all the adventures ahead for that animal in their new forever home. It is very rewarding to know that fundraising for Team PAWS goes directly to saving an animal’s life, then seeing an animal begin that new life is the cherry on top. I’m fortunate to see many sides of PAWS – from intake at 26th to fostering to the adoption center, but fundraising is where it all begins.
Do you have any PAWS Chicago alumni pets - or any other pets - at home?
I’m a proud member of the PAWS Failed Foster club. After fostering many litters of cats, one snowy January I picked up one single kitten who was in desperate need of socialization, love and a warm place to stay. She was super skiddish at first, not trusting me or my resident feline Riggs, a 12 year old Calico rescued from a shelter in South Carolina. She slowly warmed her way up to us, and I knew very quickly that I could not part with her. Today, Ms. B (short for her PAWS name Mrs. Buttersworth) is best friends with Riggs and has come a long way from the scared kitten I first met - she’s spunky, curious, and affectionate and a joy to have in my home.
Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events that supports animals?
Over the years I’ve volunteered and/or attended most of the PAWS special events – marathons, half marathons, Animal Magnetism, Fur Ball, social events like fundraisers and fun runs. I guess the one big thing I haven’t done is go to the Beach Party, I guess I’ll have to do that this year!
What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you? Anything else you'd like to share regarding your experiences as a PAWS Chicago volunteer?
I had no idea how much of an impact PAWS would have on my life and my time in Chicago when I started volunteering 5 years ago. The more I learned about the organization the more I wanted to get involved! I love being able to give back to the community and truly making a difference, and of course doing that by saving animals! As the saying goes, saving one animal will not change the world, but for that one animal, the world will forever change. I think about that in all that I do for PAWS because the work doesn’t end. There are always more animals to save, and I plan on continuing volunteering, fundraising, and doing anything I can to help for years to come.