People ask me if it’s hard to not want to bring home all the animals when I volunteer. I explain that it’s not difficult at all, because I know they are all being well cared for until they find a home.
How long have you been volunteering with PAWS Chicago? What originally drew you to the organization?
I have been volunteering at PAWS for about 6 years. What originally drew me to PAWS was my love of animals and wanting to get involved in volunteerism in the city. We had just moved from Naperville where we raised our children. I had always volunteered at their schools and sports/dance teams. So, I missed not being involved in something I was passionate about. \
It didn’t hurt that my first neighbor when we moved to the city was longtime PAWS volunteer! He came over to introduce himself (and solicit a donation for PAWS!) and we just got to talking and the rest is history!
Which PAWS Chicago programs/areas do you volunteer in and why?
I am a Dog Town L3 volunteer, but I have taken on other responsibilities at PAWS as well. I have volunteered at PAWS fundraising events such as the Beach Party and Fur Ball. I do corporate group and school group presentations. I do media events for PAWS. I also serve on the Volunteer Board. I also love volunteering at Angels with Tails events!
Do you have a favorite experience or memory from your time volunteering?
Wow, it’s so hard to pick a favorite memory! Any time I see a dog that I’ve shown go to their furever home, it’s a good memory. But one of my favorite adoptions happened at the Country Lake Shake Festival in 2017. One of the country stars, Michael Ray, adopted a PAWS dog. He named her Wrigley because he’s a huge Cubs fan. It’s been fun keeping up with Wrigley’s adventures on his tour bus on Instagram! He also started Wrigley Cares, a charity where people attending his concerts can donate pet supplies to go to a local shelter. So, we really started something and now he’s paying it forward! See photos from Lake Shake below.
Another memory, just as important, was when I joined a group of PAWS volunteers to clear out a puppy mill in rural Illinois. It was an eye-opening experience. You can read about puppy mills or see one on TV, but until you experience it first hand, you can’t imagine the sights and smells involved and what these poor dogs have gone through. I feel privileged to have worked with such dedicated people to save as many animals as we possibly could.
What motivates you to continue volunteering with PAWS Chicago?
I don’t need much motivation to continue volunteering at PAWS. I enjoy the camaraderie with my fellow volunteers and PAWS employees. People ask me if it’s hard to not want to bring home all the animals when I volunteer. I explain that it’s not difficult at all, because I know they are all being well cared for until they find a home. We work very hard at making sure they all find the right home!
Do you have any advice for someone who is considering becoming a volunteer?
Whenever I do a visiting volunteer corporate group, I ask that if they enjoyed the experience, they consider joining us volunteering at PAWS. I also encourage the school age children to do family service or join us volunteering when they are old enough. It’s amazing how many new volunteers we get from these experiences! I also talk about TEAM PAWS and fostering opportunities. There’s something for everyone at PAWS!
Tammy with Michael Ray and Wrigley at LakeShake 2017