Volunteer of the Month – September 2019

With Walk for the Kitties coming up, we’re grateful for all our volunteers who make everything we do possible. This September, we’d like to celebrate foster coordinator Diane Atkinson as our Volunteer of the Month

Here Diane tell us in her own words how she became involved with VOKRA:

I first started volunteering for VOKRA many years ago at the Petsmart Adoption Centre in North Vancouver doing cat care. During my shift I was responsible for cleaning litter boxes, as well as feeding and playing with the kitties who were housed in kitty pods. Sometimes potential adopters would visit. There was lots to learn and at one of my first shifts I forgot to replace a litterbox in one of the pods…oops! The volunteer coordinator was not impressed!

Eventually VOKRA moved out of Petsmart and that ended my volunteer job there. After I retired, I started up again with VOKRA a few years ago as a foster coordinator. During most of my career I worked in Youth Justice with teenagers. This didn’t seem much different…instead of placing teenagers in foster homes and youth centres I started placing kitties in foster homes!

The foster coordinator volunteer job is pretty intense and seems to never end…and summers with all the moms and kittens is a crazy time! I have learned so much about caring for kitties and I am still learning! I seem to have a soft spot for kitties with health problems and senior kitties who get surrendered and love to see them do well in foster homes. I could not do this job without support from many people..this includes the obvious:  Karen, Cassie, Maria, Andrea, Mickey and my fellow foster coordinators, as we’ll as my fellow volunteers on VOKRA’s many other teams, including Surrenders, Ops Reception, Adoptions, Bios, Drivers, Vaccinations, Photos, Papers, Media … too many to name but you know who you are! And of course the wonderful fosters who take in rescue kitties and patiently give them happy homes!

Chilko, Diane’s daughter’s VOKRA kitty

My first cat, Maya, was a shy black cat from a North Van rescue agency. My daughter adopted a black cat, Chilko, from VOKRA He’s a sweet boy but hates other cats with a passion! My present cat, Max, a tuxedo, came from an ad in the paper from someone who was selling kittens out of their trailer park home out in the Fraser Valley. Sixteen years later, he’s successfully living with hyperthyroidism and congestive heart failure, doing his best to finance his vet’s future retirement!

There have been many memorable kitties I’ve had in some of my foster homes, the most recent was a mom and five kittens who were abandoned on a street corner and are now doing so well. It’s gratifying to see the hard-to-adopt kitties like Jeff (age 13 with kidney disease and hyperthyroidism) find their forever homes! And to see super scared cats finally relax, learn to trust their people and blossom in foster care! And I love that sick and injured street cats are given medical care and a chance of a better life!

THANK YOU so much Diane for all the time and effort you put into ensuring our foster parents get the support they need. Your attention and guidance go a long way towards helping the cats in VOKRA’s care.

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!

VOKRA is always in need of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – August 2019

Summertime’s in full swing, which means our Operations Centre is busier than usual. With cats and kittens going in and out and foster’s stopping by to get supplies, there’s always something to do and our reception team is on top of it!

This month we’re celebrating Margot Kubale, a volunteer who’s been part of our Ops reception team since September of 2017. Here Margot tells us in her own words how she became involved with VOKRA.

You see I first heard of Vokra when I adopted a cat in January of 2006. Here’s the story of how that happened:

I had been without a cat for about nine months because the last of my two cats had passed away in March 2005. I was in no rush to adopt another cat but then met Karen Duncan, VOKRA co-founder, at a craft fair about two weeks before. I almost didn’t make it to the fair and 10 minutes or so before closing time noticed the VOKRA sign to a separate room from the crafts. I walked in and was greeted by Karen with a “Hello, would you like a cat?”.

The last thing I expected was to find a cat at a craft fair. Karen let me hold the big, full grown fluffy orange cat who was very affectionate and in need of a one cat home. I was reluctant to adopt so I opted to foster him in case things didn’t work out. He came home with me that same day and I renamed him Rusty in keeping with my personal traditional of naming red cats with a name that starts with the letter “R”.

Two weeks later I had guests for Christmas for dinner,  five adults and three children, all in a small one bedroom apartment. I was very surprised that Rusty spent no time hiding under the bed and chose be amongst the guests and do a meet and greet of all the adults sitting on the L-shaped couch. He just went from one to the next saying “hello”. It was just like a salesperson would do a meet and greet and I’d never seen a cat do that. He was not intimidated by all the people.

A few weeks later Karen called to see how it was going. I told her how Rusty had been with my Christmas guests and that I’d decided to adopt him. He turned out to be the best cat ever!!!   He was my wonderful four-footed furry friend until he passed in February of 2017. Shortly after that I decided to put in an application to volunteer with VOKRA in memory of Rusty and to give back for receiving such a wonderful cat.

Margot and fellow reception volunteer Dave providing some TLC

I’m very much enjoying my time volunteering in reception and there is no shortage of stuff to do. It’s interesting to talk to the various people that walk in and I like making up the variety boxes for the fosters, printing labels and signs on the computer and keeping the reception area as tidy as possible, and, if it’s slow, helping out with laundry.

One of the things I’ve learned to do better is how to put a cat into a carrier. When it gets busy at Ops I have sometimes helped out with putting the cat’s into a carrier when they’re ready to go out to foster. I remember Keegan was so eager to get out the kennel that he walked right into the carrier without even any kibble inducement! That was fun… loading him so easily.

I also like combing cats and removing their mats if they are calm enough to allow that. I was able to do that once at Ops. In April of this year there was a fluffy black cat in need of a little TLC.  He was very mellow and let Dave, who does reception on the same day as I do, hold him so I could cut out some mats. With a little teamwork we got the job done.

THANK YOU so much Margot for all the time and energy you put into helping out everyone at VOKRA. We very much appreciate your dedication!

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!

VOKRA is always in need of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Will You Walk for Jeff?

Jeff’s a real gentleman and a sweet purr monster.

When Jeff arrived at VOKRA in 2017 he was hungry, thin and dirty. Even though he had a tattoo, the information wasn’t up-to-date so we have no idea what happened to him or how long he’d been on the streets.

During his initial vet check-up it was discovered Jeff’s hyperthyroid, which partly explains why he was so skinny. In order to keep his thyroid in check Jeff needs medication twice a day and periodic visits to the vet to check his levels.

Then, during another one of Jeff’s vet visits, he was diagnosed with kidney disease so he now gets sub-q fluids twice a week and a B-12 shot once a week. (And, for good measure, he’s a picky eater.) Whew! Despite all this, Jeff’s foster mom describes him as “an easy cat who loves cuddles and scratches under the chin or behind his ears”.

It’s very difficult to find someone willing to take on a kitty with health issues, so at some shelters cats like Jeff 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.

Cats like Jeff are just one of the thousands of reasons why we Walk for the Kitties.

Each year, VOKRA rescues more than 1,400 homeless cats and kittens from around the Lower Mainland. Unlike many other animal rescue groups, VOKRA is a volunteer-driven, no-kill organization. Our work is made possible through the generous support of volunteers, adopters and people like you.

Without your support we wouldn’t be able to afford to rescue cats like Jeff.

Please help us help kitties like Jeff this September 15 by joining us for Walk for the Kitties, presented by FirstMate.

Eventbrite - VOKRA Walk for the Kitties 2018

Walk for the Kitties is our largest fundraising event of the year. This 5k fun walk takes place at Jericho Beach and all funds raised go directly towards supporting our rescue efforts. Learn more here.

Can’t make it on September 15? You can still donate today! 

 

Volunteer of the Month – July 2019

It’s summertime which means there’s no shortage of work for our volunteers. With more than 450 cats and kittens “in-stock” everyone’s being kept very busy. This month we’re celebrating one of our volunteers who never has a shortage of tasks on her plate – Glynda Summers.

Glynda has been a steadfast volunteer with VOKRA for 12 years and has been involved in many different capacities. Currently she’s instrumental in managing our post adoption follow-up survey process and ensuring the information goes where it needs to. Glynda has a wealth of VOKRA history stored in her brain and is invaluable to all of us.

Here Glynda tells us in her own words how and why she got involved with VOKRA:

I went to a foster’s home to meet Othello in September 2007 after seeing him on Petfinder. When I arrived, the foster, Dania, had just received two little foster kittens and Othello was with those kittens.  We sat on her living room floor and watched the kittens scampering around. I decided to adopt Othello but I didn’t have the heart to take him away from the two wee kittens. So I ended up adopting all three of them – something unusual back in 2007 as not many people were adopting three cats at the same time back then. So I adopted Othello (a.k.a. Tellie), Tess and Violet on September 21, 2007.

Tellie, Tess and Violet

While Dania and I were sitting on her living room floor, she and I found out a bit about each and she brought me into VOKRA because of my business skills. She thought I would be able to help out with a database and I started doing data entries of cat bios and uploading photos. So that was my start with VOKRA. Hard to believe it’s close to 12 years now! I helped set up bio icons, font sizing, featuring cats on our website, organization charts, so many different things as our website and database developed and grew over the years. Then, in 2010, I started doing newspaper submissions for VOKRA adoptable cats in several local newspapers and today I still handle the cat bios that are sent to the North Shore News. These ads result in many adoptions and also help promote VOKRA.

All of Glenda’s cats

In 2016 I was asked to help with Post Adoption Follow-up Surveys for all our adopted cats. Originally, I had simply copied the current section from the Google spreadsheet containing the responses into an Excel spreadsheet . And then, once again, I developed a Microsoft Access database into which I upload the adopters’ responses. I can review the responses in the database, send requests to appropriate vets for any information that is missing (ie tattoo numbers, spay/neuter dates, etc) and keep track of when they send this in, notify Adopter Support of any issues the adopter may have, update information in the database and keep track of all this information. It makes it so much easier to check the adopter responses and monitor follow-up and recording. So I have added a lot of “geek” to the thank you survey follow-up process. But that’s me. A geek with seven cats!

I think that covers a good bit of what I have done for VOKRA as a volunteer over the last 12 years, a lot of which is in the “background” and not actually touching the cats. And I am very thankful for taking my touch-typing class in high school many, MANY years back so I can type around various cats in my lap while I do all of this.

THANK YOU Glynda for all your years of dedication and efforts on behalf of the kitties at VOKRA. We’re privileged and honoured to have you as a volunteer and couldn’t be more grateful!
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!

VOKRA is always in need of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Aryan’s Purrfect Presentation

Earlier this year, the students of Mrs. Kim’s grade 5 class at Westcot Elementary School were each tasked with doing a presentation about a charity of their choice, with the winner of the competition receiving a donation to give to their charity.

Aryan chose VOKRA and he paid a visit to our Operations Centre to interview co-founders Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski. Aryan asked lots of thoughtful questions and got to learn all about how VOKRA was founded and the work we do today. He also got to meet several of the kitties in our care and documented his visit with many photos.

Aryan took everything he learnt from Karen and Maria and created a wonderful presentation highlighting the stories of several of the cats he met or heard about.

We’re thrilled to report all of Aryan’s hard work paid off and he won the competition! We’re very proud of him and grateful he chose to learn about our organization. Congratulations Aryan!

 

Volunteers of the Month – June 2019

June is Adopt-A-Cat month so now’s a great time to celebrate our Foster Fail team! What’s a foster fail you ask? Well it really isn’t a fail at all! It’s the term we fondly use when a foster falls in love with their foster cat so much they decide to adopt. They may “fail” at fostering, but every adoption’s a win!

This month we’re honouring Antoniya Hristova and Chie Okumura. When a foster “fails” they step in and to do all the paperwork, etc. that’s involved in the adoption process.

Here Antoniya tells us in her own words why she volunteers with VOKRA:

I’ve grown up with cats. While still living in Bulgaria I rescued and found homes for several stray cats. When I moved to Vancouver, I searched online to see if I could continue helping cats and stumbled upon VOKRA. I started fostering in December 2016 and have had the pleasure to share my home with 10 fosters so far. I’ve learned a lot more about cats and especially how to interact with timid or semi-feral cats. I love that I have support and access to wisdom about feline care through VOKRA.

Every foster manages to surprise me with his/her uniqueness. One pair of fosters, Mike and Trixie, stayed with us for almost a year as they’re senior cats (10 and 12 years at the time) and very shy. It took Trixie five months to start trusting me and my partner and to admit she actually very much likes to be petted. After two unsuccessful viewings a young couple showed up and gave them a chance (although they barely saw them during the viewing). We became friends with their adopters and were pleased to see how Mike and Trixie (now named Kimchi and Sushi) blossomed into even bigger love bugs and became a lot more confident. There’s nothing more fulfilling and rewarding than seeing this positive change and knowing you had your share in it.

In July 2017 I started doing foster fail interviews which gave me the opportunity to meet the lovely and devoted Chie. It also give me the opportunity to get a glimpse of the vast numbers of cats that have access to VOKRA care.

And here Chie tells us why she’s a VOKRA volunteer:

Joining VOKRA was one of the best things I’ve done since moving to Canada in 1989. I’ve loved cats all my life and thought I knew them well, but I was wrong! I learned a lot more about kitties, thanks to VOKRA. It’s an amazing organization where all volunteers do their parts. There are volunteers for everything – trappers, medical care, the adoption team, cat care, drivers, fosters, foster coordinators, the finance team and event coordinators, to name just a few. We all work hard for one mission – to end cat homelessness.

Chie’s daughter Kiara with her prom date

Our family started fostering with VOKRA in January 2016 after we lost my 19-year-old kitty, Hana, who we had had since she was one. She was a cranky, quick-tempered but quietly loving kitty and the whole family took her loss very hard. The house felt empty without a cat’s presence, but we didn’t feel ready to adopt a new kitty so soon after her loss. This is what led us to fostering with VOKRA, where we could help cats in need while still giving us time to mourn Hana. I’m the primary caregiver, while my daughter takes the role of socializing with the kitties (a.k.a. having fun!) and my husband is the designated driver. Within a year, we had fostered 30 kitties… At one time, we had one mom who gave birth to seven babies in my bedroom, plus four older kittens upstairs = 12 kitties in our house! That was so much fun! And in January 2017, one of VOKRA’s amazing trappers, Janet, trapped a tabby cat from a snowy industrial area and, a few days later, her only surviving kitten was also rescued. Within two weeks, we foster failed and they were named Kinako and Anko (both are Japanese sweets).

Kinako and Anko when they first arrived at VOKRA

What’s a foster fail? Well, you’re supposed to adopt out your foster cats, instead you fail to do so and keep them forever! We say it’s one of the best failures you’ve done!

People often ask me how I can possibly let go of my adorable foster kitties. I think I set my mind firmly to get them ready to find their forever home when I foster. We still foster kittens from time to time as my kitties are okay with kittens, but not adult cats. I must admit fostering is addictive – I’m now learning from another foster, Andrea, how to bottle-feed babies so I can do that full-time when I retire.

Kinako and Anko today

After my own foster fail, I started taking a role in with the Foster Fail team. I thank Sharyn, who used to do everything by herself, for established what we do today. Now Antoniya and I work together as a team. Together we have done roughly 250 adoptions in the last two years. Through working together, we became pretty close despite of our age gap and cultural difference – in fact we’ve learned we have quite a few things in common, beside loving cats!

A lot of foster fails are kitties who have medical/behaviour issues or are too old and stay with fosters for longer periods as many people consider them “un-adoptable”. It’s heart-warming to learn that someone’s unwanted cat can be loved and treasured by someone, and he/she decides to give the kitty a forever home.  Although we do all processes electronically and I never meet the kitty or adopter, those special ones stay in my heart. One of them is Beamer, who was blind, deaf and had mobility issues. And even though Beamer is no longer with us, his short life was made better when he was adopted by his fosters Jen and Andrew.

I also do in-person adoption contract 1-2 times a week, through which I meet adopters and go through the contract and payment. It’s so nice to see happy and excited adopters, hear their stories of cats and share my knowledge with them. I get so emotional when senior cats or cats with medical needs are adopted I have to hide my happy tears in public.

I look forward to meeting more adorable kitties, great volunteers and adopters though VOKRA.

WOW! Thank you so much to Antoniya and Chie for all your dedication to VOKRA! We’re so fortunate and grateful to have volunteers like you who care so much for the kitties.

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!

VOKRA is always in need of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

The Kittens Are Here!

When sweet Saturna arrived at our Operations Centre she was very pregnant.

Barely out of kitten-hood herself, Saturna soon became a mom to eight gorgeous babies. But eight mouths is a lot to feed, and some of the kittens were much smaller than their siblings, so bottle-feeding was in order.

With some extra TLC, all the kittens survived and are thriving today!

Each year we rescue more than 100 moms, just like Saturna. 

Not to mention all the kittens – last year alone we rescued more than 750 kittens, and we’re sure this year will be no exception. As a volunteer-driven non-profit, we wouldn’t be able to save all of these babies without your help.

All the cats and kittens in our care have a chance at a happy, safe and healthy life. Mama cats are worry free and their kittens will grown up without a care in the world.

Will you help us today?

Your support today will help pay for the cost of rescuing more than 100 moms and 750 kittens each year, including food, litter and medical care.

This kitten season, please give to help ensure families like Saturna’s are safe.

P.S. – By becoming a monthly donor you can show your support for the cats and kittens at VOKRA all year long. Just $10 pays for one kitten to be vaccinated and $25 pays for a flat of canned food. Will you chip in and help today?