Volunteer of the Month – June 2017

Frankie

With the sun shining (sort of), our volunteers are looking forward to a busy June as we head straight into kitten season! We appreciate how hard our volunteers work to ensure each kitty lives the best life they can, and this month we’d like to celebrate Yana Sabanskis, our Volunteer of the Month!

Yana became involved with VOKRA around eight years ago when she worked at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. There, she was familiarized with the faces of VOKRA – Karen and Maria – through their regular visits to restock supplies. She took the opportunity to understand our non-profit organization and the way we work to continuously provide the best care for kitties. Yana helped out with recycling and other odds and ends and, when our new Operations Centre opened in 2015, she continued recycling twice a week. Along with helping out at our Centre, Yana adopted from VOKRA and also fostered several cats, in which she has made strong, yet adorable memories with.

“The first kitty I adopted from VOKRA was Sammi, an 11-year old pure bred Chocolate Himalayan,” explains Yana. “He adapted very quickly to my other cat, Molly, who I had found in an alley in the West End. After Molly suddenly died, I was asked if I could possibly foster a semi-feral 2-year old. I was up to the task and took on Tommy. He really was a challenge, living in the bathroom for about a month. I slowly introduced him to Sammi by taking food and Sammi into the bathroom and leaving them together. Sammi was very docile and performed a miracle so, about a week later, Tommy followed Sammi out of the bathroom and stayed with him wherever he went!”

After Sammi passed away, Yana took in little Paula, a geriatric kitty found in an alley in the Downtown Eastside. “She was an absolute joy to welcome in our home,” said Yana. “She slept on my shoulder and only ever wanted to be loved. She was with us for almost six months before she fell asleep one night and didn’t wake again.”

The next cat that came into their home was Frankie, an 18-year old geriatric kitty who came in from the cold and needed a home. “He joined us for two years until he died,” remembers Yana. “He was so grateful to be inside and insisted on sleeping in my lap, on my shoulder or on my head. He was a large cat and would not compromise his needs, so I accepted him doing whatever he wanted.”

Yana goes on to say, “When Frankie passed away, Tommy decided I was his new pet and we’re now bonded, so much so that he sleeps on me at night! During the day he is elusive, but at night he is a cuddle monster!”

Yana has helped VOKRA in so many ways and her connection with all the furballs she cares for is one we admire. We can’t thank her enough and are happy and appreciative to have such a wonderful, kind-hearted person in our organization. You’re the best, Yana!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

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

Why Pairs Are Purrrfect!

You may remember Cauliflower, our veggie queen and proud mama of six adorable kittens. As kitten season is now underway, we thought we’d provide an update on the veggie patch kittens – Kale, Parsnip, Cabbage, Courgette, Broccoli and Brussel Sprout – and explain why we think it’s so important to adopt in pairs. All the veggie patch kittens were adopted in pairs, allowing further kitten-to-kitten interaction and playtime to help them develop important social skills.

Kale & Parsnip

Magnus and Bjorn

Kale and Parsnip, now Magnus and Bjorn, are prime examples of how kittens help each other develop social skills. For example, Magnus has shown Bjorn the simple way to get more pets: climb all over the humans. In return, Bjorn confidently showed Magnus their new food was delicious when it became time to change their eating habits. The two lean on each other during kittenhood, being the strength to the other’s weakness.

Another advantage of adopting two kittens is they can entertain themselves when humans aren’t around. As Bjorn tends to be more independent, he’ll entertain himself with a toy mouse for a while before playing around with Magnus. When the fun and games end, there’s always a cuddle session!

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Magnus and Bjorn enjoying a cuddle session

In general, Magnus and Bjorn have grown much since the first day they were adopted. They’re both around 8 pounds each, but Bjorn’s closer to 9! They’ve both been neutered and Magnus has had his congenital abdominal hernia repaired. Bjorn’s also developed into a strong, silent type, which is a change from the rambunctious kitty he was at his foster home! He’s smart to assess a situation and make a calculated decision before acting, whether it’s pouncing on his brother or jumping into the nearest lap. Magnus continues to be the fool-hearted, fearless kitten he always was. They’re both so loving and are always longing for never-ending belly rubs!

Want to see more Magnus and Bjorn? You can follow them on Instagram here.

Cabbage & Courgette

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Bailey and Guinness

Cabbage and Courgette, now Guinness and Bailey, have grown into extremely playful kittens that like to ride the floor sweeper while the humans dust the floor!

The two kitties spend most of the day with each other, cleaning each other when taking a break from chasing one another all over the house. Having another kitty around means they can help clean each other’s ears and head, areas somewhat difficult to reach. The two are able to entertain each other and themselves, but prove to be very social when they’re guests around.

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Bailey and Guinness demonstrate their love

As for what they’re up to these days, Guinness has been neutered, but Bailey has a small heart murmur so her family are awaiting test results before she goes in for surgery. The two kitties enjoy sitting at the front window, watching the birds and bugs fly outside. They’re obsessed with the numerous toy mice they have, especially the ones that rattle. They’ve been a wonderful addition to the family and they’re “parents” say it’s been amazing watching them grow and learn from each other.

Broccoli & Brussel Sprout

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Broccoli and Brussel Sprout

Broccoli and Brussel Sprout are the best of friends. While play fighting has become a pastime, they also find entertainment with the kids of the house. They don’t mind being carried around and Brussel Sprout has even slipped on a pink dress without any sign of being bothered!

As kittens, they respect each other’s space, but Broccoli is clearly the boss, acting like a wise, older brother (well he is two weeks older!). They clearly love each other and are always in the same room. When one meows the other is sure to come running! They both love their treats and food and Brussel Sprout has proven to be the fastest eater of the furball kingdom!

 

George and Broccoli

In other news, Broccoli and Brussel Sprout have both been neutered and didn’t even need to wear cones of shame! They both bounced right back. Broccoli’s in love with the resident Airedale of the house, George. They cuddle in George’s bed and are constantly licking each other – call it instant friendship, if you will. However, Brussel Sprout is not a very big fan of George. The two cannot be left to their own devices together as George can’t understand why Brussel Sprout doesn’t want to be friends. He’s been on the receiving end of many of Brussel Sprout’s jaguar-like swats. So the patient introduction continues and once they find some common ground, everything’ll be golden!

The kittens have been an amazing addition to the family. While Brussel Sprout is a little naughtier and keeps the humans on their toes, they wouldn’t change a thing. Watching the kids bond with their dog and kittens is the sweetest thing one could ever hope for. Unconditional love from a pet is the best.

You can follow Broccoli and Brussel Sprout’s adventure on Instagram here.

Brussel Sprout and Broccoli love their people

As kitten season continues, we want to urge those wanting to adopt to adopt in pairs. The veggie patch kittens’ stories are examples of how advantageous, beneficial and sweet it can be to have two furballs in a household. Our mission at VOKRA is to ensure all kitties get the furever home they deserve, and you can help by adopting in pairs to give them not only a loving home, but a lifelong best friend at their side.

Click here to learn more about adopting through VOKRA.

Byron’s Happy Tail Ending

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Byron came into VOKRA’s care after he was found as a stray in an industrial park. Street life was starting to take its toll on him – he had some battle scars that were likely caused from run-ins with other animals. However, a tough life on the streets didn’t dampen Byron’s affectionate and playful nature.

Even though he was in good health, it was discovered Byron was feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) positive. Byron’s diagnosis didn’t affect his overall health, but it did mean he couldn’t go to a home with another cat.

Byron’s second chance came when his future adopter, Rebecca, decided it was time for a kitty to come into her life.

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“I’ve wanted to adopt a cat for a couple of years. I always had kitties growing up and I missed having a cat around. My best friend introduced me to VOKRA when she adopted her kitty, Penelope,” said Rebecca. “My friend suggested I check out Byron’s page on the website. He was a guy she and her boyfriend had wanted to meet before they adopted Penelope.”

After reading about Byron’s background and biography online, Rebecca knew this was a kitty she wanted to meet. “I thought he might be a guy who could do with some stability and some pampering,” she said.

Byron and Rebecca hit it off and he soon found himself in a new forever home. Thanks to his amazing foster dad Bill, who brought his toys and cat things to Rebecca’s home, Byron settled in quickly and was king of the castle before long.

happytails3.png“Now that he’s settled in, it turns out he’s a bit of a chatterer,” said Rebecca. “He really makes [my husband and I] laugh. He does this thing where he takes your hand between his paws and draws it under his head to use as a pillow. He’s so funny when he’s hungry, which is basically always. I haven’t had to set my alarm once since he settled in. He wakes us up at the literal break of dawn every morning. He doesn’t let up until one of us gets up and gets his breakfast.”

Besides watching the clock for mealtimes, Byron has discovered his people make wonderful places to sleep on. He also has a love/hate relationship with his favourite catnip toy (he beats it around then cuddles with it when he naps).

We’re so glad Byron found a safe and happy place to call home. Thank you to Rebecca and her husband for giving a second chance to this wonderful cat.

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

Post written by Kim Cormack

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Kitten season is off to a record start!

This beautiful girl is April and she’s the proud mama of 10 healthy kittens. Yes, 10 kittens! This is the first time in VOKRA history a mama has successful delivered 10 healthy babies.

Each year during kitten season more than 900 kittens are born in our care. And if April’s litter is any indication, this season will be no different. As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we can’t support this many kittens without the help of people like you.

Kittens in our care have a chance at a happy, safe and healthy life. With so many kittens, April isn’t able to care for them all on her own. She simply doesn’t have enough milk to support this many babies and, if she would have given birth on the street, it’s certain some of them would not be alive today.

Thankfully we were able to rescue April in time and she gave birth in a safe space. Her foster mom Brenda is ensuring all the kittens get enough to eat through bottle feeding so everyone’s thriving.

Between the cost of special kitten formula and supplements, nursing kits and medical care we anticipate the cost to support each of these kittens is more than $150. That adds up to more than $1,500 just for this litter alone.

Will you help us today?

Your support today will help us buy extra food and litter, and will also pay for veterinary care and medication.

Please donate today to help save kittens like April’s.

A special thank you to Laureen Stokes for taking the photos of April and her family!

Volunteer of the Month – May 2017

April showers bring May flowers…right? While it has been a rainy April we’re sure hoping for the sun to shine for everyone in May! But at VOKRA we’re lucky because we get sunshine everyday from all our lovely volunteers and it’s time to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month – Marlene Smith!

Marlene has always been a cat lover, having been involved with several cat rescue organizations. She joined the VOKRA volunteer team more than four years ago at an adoption event. She fostered a few cats here and there for a couple months, but decided not to continue due to her resident cats being less than amused by the lack of attention they were receiving. However, over the years she’s picked up short-term fostering again until longer term fosters can be found in Surrey or Vancouver.

Working from home, Marlene takes on many tasks at VOKRA. She enters health and medical information of kitties into our database, handles calendar distribution in Surrey and organizes community and fundraising events. As well, Marlene assists with the collection of donations, preparing tax receipts and documenting payments for online auctions. The volunteering doesn’t stop there! Marlene has also administrated and reported on two spay/neuter grants for VOKRA in Surrey.

“It was a learning experience and brought me in contact with people from many walks of life,” says Marlene. “This involved speaking with cat owners, setting up vet appointments and driving to and from vets to meet surgery times when an owner didn’t have transportation. In addition, I was trying to find carriers, washing carriers and delivering carriers for transport to and from the vet.”

Marlene truly is a hard worker, helping with emergency pick-ups and driving calls for injured cats or kittens that need a fast trip to the vet or our Operations Centre – no speeding tickets so far! She also prepares adoption papers in Surrey and meets with adopters. It’s a great way to meet people and share the information VOKRA provides during the adoption process.

Marlene is happy to volunteer with VOKRA, along with all the great volunteers who are associated with our organization. We too are over the moon to have Marlene as one of our volunteers. So, this month, we’re celebrating Marlene Smith as our wonderful Volunteer of the Month! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to VOKRA!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

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

Calling all graphic designers!

Each year VOKRA produces and sells a calendar to raise money for the kitties. The time has now come to refresh the design and we’re looking for a volunteer designer/design firm to be our redesign partner. As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we can’t afford design costs, but our partner will be remunerated by having their name on the calendar as our design partner, free sponsorship on one of the calendar months for one year, lots of purrs from our cats in need of homes and hugs from our volunteers and cat adopters.

Goals:

  • Fundraising! Last year we raised $15,000 and we’re looking to grow this each year.
  • Brand messaging – To tell our story through the kitties featured each month on the calendar.
  • Building community – Providing adopters an opportunity to see their kitties in the calendar and introducing new people to VOKRA.

Process:

We’re looking for expressions of interest based on the below criteria. We’ll choose one partner who will then provide us with three design options to choose from. There are no design requirements as part of the expression of interest. Expressions of interest are due by May 1, 2017.

Please include the following in your response:

  • Information about your background and relevant experience
  • Any calendar design experience, including pictures of such designs (otherwise, please provide pictures of similar elements in designs you have worked on)
  • Information about your volunteer experiences, if any
  • A short paragraph about why you’d like to volunteer on this assignment for VOKRA

Redesign Criteria:

  • Functionality is key. In previous years we’ve sold calendar date squares to people so they can see their adopted cats in the calendar. This has been a challenge as end users are then unable to write on the calendar because the dates squares are full. As such, the new design should leave the dates squares open.
  • Please think outside the (litter) box. We’re open to any design format that meets the redesign criteria. This includes overall size and shape.
  • A look and feel that fits with VOKRA’s mission statement and personality (see below).
  • The calendar must include space for a feature cat photo each month, along with their brief story (approx. 2–3 lines) in a prominent way as part of each month’s calendar page. We’d like the story to be incorporated as part of the picture.
  • Thought should be put into how a sponsor’s logo can be incorporated into each month.
  • As we’d like to continue to offer adopters the opportunity to see their kitties in the calendar, we envision the ability to incorporate 5 -6 small photos into each month. This should be taken into account in the overall design.
  • Format and design: We’re flexible and open to suggestions.

For any questions or further discussion on this RFP, please contact Majid Khoury at 604-725-5892 or strategy@majidkhoury.com

Electronic submissions are preferred and can be emailed to strategy@majidkhoury.com by May 1, 2017.

Learn more about VOKRA on our website at vokra.ca or visit our Facebook page.


VOKRA’s mission is to end cat overpopulation and homelessness. We rescue, heal, then place cats—first in our network of foster homes, then in carefully matched, loving, forever homes. We are a passionate, volunteer-driven charity with extensive cat care experience. We believe that no-kill is the only responsible approach, that Trap Neuter Return works and that cats are AWESOME!

Key messaging to support the positioning:

  • No-kill policy
  • 100% volunteer-driven
  • All donations go to cat care
  • Cats live in foster homes, not cages
  • TNR program to reduce feral cat populations
  • Operated by experts on cats and cat health
  • Stringent policies and procedures related to the health and nutrition of cats in the care of VOKRA fosters
  • Stringent policies and procedures for accepting the right adopters who align with VOKRA’s love, protection, and respect for the adopted cats
  • Volunteers have a wealth of information and best practices on cats’ health, nutrition and behavioural issues

VOKRA personality to set the tone of branding/marketing/communications look and feel:

Professional, trustworthy, compassionate, caring, knowledgeable, organized, yet loveable and playful, like a cat.

 

 

 

Come run with us on June 25!

On June 25, 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 Tortilla. After her owner passed away the person she ended up with wanted to have her euthanized. Thankfully the vet refused and we were called to take her in. Tortilla’s around 15 years old and when she arrived at our Operations Centre she was covered in fleas and lice and needed a medical check-up to investigate a lump on her chest (which thankfully turned out to be nothing). Without VOKRA Tortilla would be dead.

Today Tortilla is recovering from her ordeal in foster care and will soon be looking for her new forever home. Unfortunately Tortilla’s story is not uncommon and kitties like her wouldn’t be saved without the help of everyone at VOKRA and donors like you.

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: 17VOKRA21K
5K discount code: 17VOKRA5K

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!