Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Gift to Animals

One month ago, our CEO, Nancy, got a phone call from a man in our community named Andi. A leave of absence from work meant he had a lot of free time on his hands--and Andi is not one to sit idly by. He wanted to help in some way--was there any volunteer work he could do for HSCC? Scooping poop, even?

Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our shelter. We're fortunate to have an active volunteer force of 250--and we depend on each and every one of these folks! Just to give you an idea, last year, the number of hours logged by volunteers equaled nine full-time staff positions. Can you imagine how much would NOT have been done without that help?

At the moment Andi called, we happened to have a very pressing need for administrative help. We had a huge data entry project--hours and hours of work--that needed to be tackled. Lucky for us, Andi was game.

Three weeks later, Andi finished that project. He asked if he could be of service in any other ways. Could he ever! Andi hauled sand for one of our dog yards. He organized our retail inventory. He accompanied our humane investigator on a couple of cruelty calls. He chased down an escaped dog. He replaced a faucet, repaired dog kennels and disinfected cat rooms. And last Friday, when one of our staffers witnessed two men escaping on bikes after breaking into another staffer's car, Andi was out the door like a shot. He swung on to his own bicycle and chased those guys through the urban wilds behind our shelter. Unfortunately, they got away, but Andi didn't give up looking for an hour in the cold rain.

Over the last month, we have all become incredibly fond of Andi. In fact, we wish we could find a way to keep him around permanently! His good nature, humility, and sense of humor keep us all in high spirits--and the fact that no task is beneath him makes us all want to chip in a little harder!

Andi helping us keep our records up to date!

Of course, Andi couldn't escape without adopting an animal. Last Friday, he adopted a kitten who's now leading a wonderful life as the bosom buddy of Andi's doting daughter.

We asked Andi if he would share a bit about his experience volunteering for HSCC. Here's what he had to say:

A gift.

I was looking to give my time to an organization that works for the greater good in our community. The personal void I was trying to fill was the internal call to ‘give back’--it is something that has been so much a part of my life since childhood. What better place to turn than the Humane Society of Chittenden County? I knew that they have a well organized volunteer program and over the years I have had many positive interactions with the staff for a number of reasons. My daughter had once even attended Camp Paw-Paw and found it most rewarding.

I first made a call to the newly appointed CEO, Nancy Cathcart, a well respected community leader. After a warm and pleasant greeting, Nancy invited me to the ‘animal kingdom.’ It was then that I met the rest of the team and began to learn what goes into making the Humane Society of Chittenden County a true success story. Their pride, caring, dedication and energy exudes true professionalism. But most importantly, the animals that come into their care are treated as if their own!

In the weeks that I have spent at HSCC I have been afforded several rewarding tasks. Not one I could rate better or worse than the next. I knew in my heart that the work I was doing allowed the experts to focus on what they do best. I have helped with things such as data entry to track gift giving, decontamination of the isolation rooms, kennel repairs, plumbing, and humane investigations. I even tried my hand at rounding up a fast moving fugitive chihuahua that made it off the premises for just a few minutes.    

I have heard the stories of animal abuse and neglect that some of these pets have endured. It tugs at your heartstrings. On the flip side, I have seen the flow of volunteers that come daily to help with the chores; I have seen the line of people waiting patiently for the adoption center to open; I have seen the eyes light up when someone makes that special connection with a pet who has been waiting for a loving home; I have seen the generosity from those around the corner to those from as far away as London; and finally I am witness to the love and affection the staff has afforded these animals while in their care. Truly amazing!

I myself finally made the move to adopt! I have a beautiful, patient and equally energetic kitten my daughter and I have named “Sonny” in memory of my dad who absolutely adored cats.  

I have had the unbelievable good fortune to have spent the last couple of weeks with some of the finest and most dedicated individuals that truly believe in the work they do. They should be proud. I am and I take my hat off to each of them. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for giving these animals a second chance! 
This has been a memorable experience for me and the friendships that have been forged will be most cherished. My time with the Humane Society of Chittenden County has been a gift.

Andi L. Higbee.

Andi, we couldn't ask more of a volunteer! You've been a gift to the animals.

Sonny in Andi's home

1 comment:

Paula said...

Way to go, Andi!! You are a good man, and this community is fortunate to have you. Best wishes for your return to work :)