Volunteers of the Month single view | PAWS Chicago

Richard Chen

What originally drew you to PAWS Chicago?  
I was drawn to PAWS Chicago because I was looking for a local animal shelter to volunteer at and heard great things about PAWS and its No Kill mission.  I’ve now been a volunteer for over two-and-a-half years.

Do you have a primary focus when you volunteer?

Though I spend most of my time as a Kitty City Level 2 Volunteer, I also spend a fair amount of time doing photography of adoptable animals and for special events.

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

The story of Rocky is always the one that stands out in my mind.  Rocky was a stray who was hurt while trying to stay warm by hiding in a car’s engine compartment.  Not only was he injured when he was found, but it turned out he was FIV+.  PAWS Chicago was able to give Rocky the medical treatment he needed for his injuries and Rocky wound up finding a forever home! 

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

I work as an IT consultant for a company based out of Chicago.  The job requires me to be an effective team member by communicating well with colleagues, being willing to help others as needed, and doing my fair share of the work.  The same things that are expected of me as a member of a project team are also expected of me as a member of the PAWS volunteer team in order for PAWS to be successful.


My consulting position also requires that I am able to communicate with clients in order to figure out their needs and expectations so that I can find a IT solution that’s right for the client.  Similarly, communicating with visitors to Kitty City about their needs and expectations is also vital when matching them with the right cat for them.


Why do you volunteer for PAWS Chicago? 

I volunteer for PAWS Chicago in large part because I believe in PAWS Chicago’s No Kill mission.  I also volunteer because I enjoy working with my fellow volunteers who work hard and make every volunteer shift fun.


The biggest reason I volunteer at PAWS Chicago, however, is because I enjoy seeing a favorite cat go home.  It’s a bit bittersweet saying goodbye to a cat you’ve become familiar with and have come to love, but knowing that the cat will be in a loving home more than makes up for having to say farewell.

Do you have any pets at home?

I adopted Chelsea Handler, a tortoiseshell cat, just about two years ago from PAWS Chicago.  I was supposed to only be a foster parent, but I turned into a failed foster instead only a few weeks in. I also adopted/rescued Kitze, a black long-haired cat, from the street in Chicago about four years ago.

Have you participated in any PAWS Chicago special events?

I have volunteered for three years running at the PAWS Chicago Fur Ball as a photographer.  I’ve also helped do photography at Angels with Tails, as well as at other events.

What value has volunteering at PAWS Chicago brought you? 

Volunteering at PAWS Chicago has brought a lot of happiness into my life because I get to see these amazing cats (and dogs) find loving homes to spend their lives in.  I also get to be part of an amazing volunteer team that makes it all possible, and I’m lucky to be able to work with so many amazing folks at PAWS.


If anybody out there is thinking about volunteering at PAWS, whether in a more behind-the-scenes role or working with the public, I’d encourage you to sign up.  Watching all of these cats and dogs go into loving homes and knowing you had a hand in making that possible will be more than worth the work you put in.