Volunteer of the Month – May 2018

The May sunshine is shining a spotlight on our Volunteer of the Month, Nicole Neifert!

Nicole has been described as “The Original VOKRA Surrey Volunteer”. For more than 10 years she’s spent countless hours helping to get homeless and abandoned cats off the streets.

“I first met Nicole in 2008 when I started trapping for VOKRA,” said fellow volunteer Mona Boucher. “She was dropping off a cat she had trapped at the vet hospital.  Back in those days we didn’t have a postop space so feral cats were set up in kennels at trapping sites to recover from spay/neuter before being released.”

Eventually Nicole built an insulated and heated shed in her backyard to house cats recovering from spays/neuters and a host of other ailments and injuries.

Amy, Hans & Itty are just a few of the cats in Nicole’s life.

“Many times we’ve had cats stacked to the ceiling after a night or several nights of trapping and she never complains,” says Mona. “Over the years hundreds and hundreds of cats and kittens have come through her shed.”

As Nicole has a veterinary background, she’s a natural fit to care for the frailest, injured and sick cats trapped in Surrey. She’s seen miraculous recoveries and a fair share of heartbreak, but over and over again she puts her heart on the line to care for the cats in the greatest need.

Although Nicole doesn’t trap much these days, from time-to-time stray cats in need of help find their way to her yard.  She’s also quick to respond when there’s a cat in distress – up a tree or caught in a space where they can’t get out.

“Like most of us involved with VOKRA, a few cats have stolen Nicole’s heart and moved into her home,” said Mona. “Some of them are still with her today and some of them have crossed the rainbow bridge. She cares for her own cats and the rescued cats while simultaneously working and caring for her husband and two children. She’s an inspiration.”

In Nicole’s own words, “Everyday little things are done and add up to huge changes. Colonies fixed and fed, homeless strays warm in a bed again, lots of full bellies and raising the care and awareness of owned and stray cats. I’ve entered abandoned houses and left with cats and fish, I have dug up the dirt under concrete stairs to get an injured kitty, stood below a tree and prayed for the tree guy and the cat, a friend got stuck in a recycling bin while helping me get some kittens that had fell in, loaded my car to the bump stops with free cat donations, driven thousands of kilometers, scooped millions of poops, and cleaned just as many kennels. All of these things have accumulated to amazing changes in so many lives, including my own. It is an honor to be recognized but it is a gift to be part of VOKRA. I’ve been supported by so many amazing ladies.”

“I’ve learned so much from Nicole over the years and I look forward to many more years and many, many more kitty lives changed for the better,” said Mona. “Nicole is simply awesome!”

We couldn’t agree more! THANK YOU so much Nicole for your dedication. VOKRA was built through the hard work of volunteers just like you and we can’t thank you enough.

As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of you!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Brody and Bojangles’ Happy Tail Ending

Brody’s a special kitty who was born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH), a neurological condition that results in walking and balance problems. While he has trouble getting around on his own, he loves cuddles and is a happy-go-lucky kitty. Although Brody also suffers from poor eyesight, he’s otherwise healthy and enjoys the life of a pampered housecat like any other. He particularly loves the company of other cats and dogs so we knew he would make a great buddy to an existing pet in a family.

After two of her cats passed away from old age, Dolores decided it was time to again open her home to a cat in need and to find a friend for her other two female cats. She found Brody on VOKRA’s website and thought he would make the perfect companion for her “girls”, Nugget and Doodles. Then, several years after Brody came home with Dolores, she adopted Bojangles, another kitty with CH.

Brody adores having Bojangles in his life, as do Nugget and Doodles. Thank you Dolores for opening up your home to not one but two special needs kitties!

Would you like to share your Happy Tail? Email us at communications@vokra.ca.

Come run with us on June 24!

On June 24, Team VOKRA will be participating in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon and 5k run/walk and we want you to join us. It might not change your life, but your support will definitely help change the lives of the more than 1,400 kitties we rescue each year.

Kitties like Timmy, a handsome gentleman cat who came to VOKRA way back in 2012 after being rescued from a shelter. Timmy’s diabetic which means he needs a shot of insulin twice a day to stay healthy. It’s very difficult to find someone willing to take on a kitty with health issues, so at some shelters cats like Timmy are often deemed “unadoptable” and end up being euthanized. At VOKRA, they believe every kitty deserves a chance at a happy, healthy life so Timmy will stay with them for as long as it takes for him to find the purrfect forever home.

Whether they’re kittens or adults, feral or tame, healthy or sick – VOKRA provides them all with the best care we can. But this does come at a cost.

You don’t have to be an athlete to join. And few on our team have ever fundraised before either (you only need to commit to raising a minimum of $50). All you need is a love of cats. This love is what unites us as a team and carries us all over the finish line!

It’s super easy to get started. To join Team VOKRA simply click here to register. And, as a bonus, each team member is entitled to a special preferred rate. To get the preferred rate be sure to enter one of the following PIN codes:

Half-Marathon discount code: 18VOKRA21K
5K discount code: 18VOKRA5K

Once you’re registered you’ll receive a link to your personal fundraising page so you can get started right away. And to help ensure you achieve your goal, Team VOKRA will provide you with a motivational emails to help you fundraise. We’ll also invite you to join the Team VOKRA Facebook group so you can connect with your fellow team members. So there’s no excuses! Sign up today and join Team VOKRA!

Be sure to reserve your Team VOKRA spot as soon as possible so you don’t miss out!

Don’t want to run? You can still help when you sponsor Team VOKRA today!

It Takes a Clowder*

*Clowder = a group or cluster of cats.

When Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski founded VOKRA back in 2000 it was headquartered in the basement of Karen’s Victorian home in Kitsilano. The plan was to care for very young, mostly bottle-fed kittens and, as often happens, things didn’t go according to plan.

Karen & Maria with longtime volunteer Shelley

Back in the day, VOKRA had a “staff” of approximately 10 volunteers and averaged 150 rescues a year. By 2008, that number had increased to 800 cats and kittens and in 2014 that number jumped to more than 1,800. After finding loving homes for thousands of cats and kittens it was about time VOKRA moved out of Karen’s basement and got a new home of its own. So in 2014 we opened our Operations Centre.

Since opening the Operations Centre (a.k.a. Ops), VOKRA has been very lucky to have an amazing amount of truly dedicated volunteers join us and help save the lives of cats and kittens.

Volunteers at our Ops making sure kittens are flea-free

Today, VOKRA currently has more than 400 volunteers working hard either behind the scenes or at Ops. We also have more than 550 foster homes, currently fostering or available to foster.

Just at our Operations Centre alone, there are an average of 168 volunteers a week! Here’s a quick snapshot of what it takes to make Ops tick:

  • Cat Care, Operations Support and Maintenance – 125+ shifts per week.
  • Medical Team – 17 volunteers
  • Reception – 20+ shifts per week

Our Operations Centre is also very busy with a large number of fosters who pick up food/supplies/medications for their foster kitties.

There are also hundreds of VOKRA volunteers “behind the scenes” who make things happen. We currenlty have 261+ volunteers on 48 teams, including:

Our event volunteers are always out in the community

Volunteer Recruitment- Adoption Counsellors – Adoption Contracts – Foster Coordinators – New Foster – Homes Interviewers – Kitty Health Checks – Medical Research – Foster Kitty Vaccination – Cat Behaviourism – Monitoring Health in Foster Care – Post Adoption Health Support – Vet Lab Reports – Fundraising – Events – Volunteer Committee – Communications – Photography – Kitty Biographers – Finance – IT – Database Administration – Foster Website – Trapping – Barn Placement – Drivers – Southlands Barn (where elderly feral cats and disabled kitties live) – and more!!!!

There never seems to be a shortage of cats to rescue

Sometimes it seems like we’re all chasing our tails trying to keep up – we’ve grown in leaps and bounds and, at times, are still going through growing pains. But we’re all here for one thing – the kitties.

Thank you to each and every one of our special volunteers who are a member of the VOKRA clowder. We wouldn’t exist without your dedication and support. Each and every one of you make a difference in the lives of kitties each day.

We’re always looking for new volunteers! If you’re interested in volunteering, visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

You Can Be A Hero Every Month!

Timmy’s a handsome gentleman cat who came to us way back in 2012 after being rescued from a shelter.

Timmy’s diabetic which means he needs a shot of insulin twice a day to stay healthy. It’s very difficult to find someone willing to take on a kitty with health issues, so at some shelters cats like Timmy are often deemed “unadoptable” and end up being euthanized.

At VOKRA we believe every kitty deserves a chance at a happy, healthy life. Whether they’re kittens or adults, feral or tame, healthy or sick – we provide them all with the best care we can. But this does come at a cost.

If you’d like to help, the easiest way for you to provide steady support for the kitties in our care is by joining our monthly giving program.

By choosing to give a monthly gift to VOKRA, you’re providing consistent, reliable resources to help us handle any situation – whether it’s a kitten needing emergency medical care, a cat requiring insulin or a feral tom in need of a neuter.

One donation a month really adds up to a big difference in the life of a cat. Here’s the lifesaving difference you can make:


Will you help a kitty today by joining our monthly giving program?

Donations are processed automatically on the same day each month which helps you budget monthly and annually. And you can change, pause or stop your donation at any time by simply contacting us.

You can also make a one-time gift when you click here.

Timmy’s patiently waiting for a forever home. If you’re interested, you can learn more about him here. Thank you to Angela McConnell for Timmy’s portraits!

 

Daisy’s Happy Tail Ending

Daisy’s a black beauty with cerebellar hypoplasia, which means she has a “wobbly walk” and a tendency to fall down, but otherwise is just like other cats. She enjoys the company of people, whether being brushed, pet or just relaxing on the couch. Despite her gentle nature, Daisy spent the first three and half years of her life in foster homes.

Trace is a cat lover who always had cats in the family home growing up. After receiving a promotion at work, she decided the perfect way to celebrate was to open up her home to a special needs cat. Trace arranged to meet Daisy in her foster home after viewing her profile on our website. During the visit, “Daisy leaned into me to steady herself and let me pet her,” said Trace. “I knew then that I wanted to take her home.”

Although shy at first, with time and patience Daisy slowly learned to trust Trace and embrace her new life as a pampered housecat. She loves playing with cloth measuring tapes and clean, empty pill bottles. Trace thinks Daisy likes the way the bottles move in unpredictable ways – just like her! She also loves sleeping in Trace’s lap or leaning her head on her palm with at least one foot on her person. “I think she feels safe that way,” Trace said. “It’s very cute.”

Daisy’s wobbly mechanics sometimes make mealtimes messy. Like a good cat mom, Trace keeps an eye on her so she doesn’t fall into her food. As a writer Trace spends several hours a day working on her computer, which makes Daisy a little jealous! She’s a vocal cat and not shy about voicing her displeasure at not being the center of attention.

We’re so glad Daisy was able to find such a doting, patient guardian in Trace. Thank you for opening up your home to a special needs kitty.

Trace said it best when she told us, “I like to think the universe was waiting for us to find each other. I love my new fur roommate.”

Would you like to share your Happy Tail? Email us at communications@vokra.ca.

Volunteer of the Month – April 2018

April showers may bring flowers, but they also bring us our Volunteer of the Month, Cynthia Reed!

Cynthia first started volunteering with VOKRA back in the summer of 2010 when we were still headquartered in co-founder Karen’s basement. Since then she’s witnessed the amazing growth of the organization and our move into a shiny new Operations Centre.

Within Cynthia’s first week of volunteering Karen, one of our master persuaders, had also talked her into fostering two small feral kittens.

“It was the height of kitten season and Karen’s basement was overflowing with kitties needing a home,” explains Cynthia. “How could I say no to Karen?”

Like many fosters, Cynthia “foster failed” on her first try and became a pet parent to fur-babies Tony and Cleo, who will be eight years old this month.

Cynthia has many memories of kitties she’s fallen in love with during her time volunteering with VOKRA. One of the cats who will stay in her heart forever is Chance the Wobbler, a cat with mobility issues who lived at Karen’s for a long time.

Jorge is patiently waiting for a new foster to come along

There’s also Charlie, who lived at Ops after being diagnosed with cancer, and Jorge, a sweet senior who is patiently waiting at the Centre for a new foster home. And there’s also Beamer, a blind and deaf kitten who Cynthia spent many hours playing with when he first arrived.

“There are way too many to count them all,” said Cynthia. “Everyone is special.”

Since VOKRA moved into our Operations Center, Cynthia has spent most of her cat care time in the T-N-R room.

“My experience with feral cats has been very rewarding and I have certainly learned a lot from (co-founder) Maria when helping her with some the wilder cats,” Cynthia explains. “I have done my best to adopt Maria’s calm and patient nature with the cats and now I look forward to caring for those ‘terrible’ cats other people might be afraid to approach.”

Cynthia goes on to say, “Being with VOKRA for so many years has given me the opportunity to work with and get to know some great people and I have been able to pass on what I have learned by mentoring several new volunteers.”

Volunteering for VOKRA has been a fantastic experience and I hope to be around for many years to come.

Cynthia  Reed

Thank you so much Cynthia for all your dedication to the kitties and the many, many hours you’ve spent volunteering. We truly appreciate your support and also hope you’ll be around for many years to come!

As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of you!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.