Volunteer of the Month – November 2018

As the last rays of autumn sunshine give way to the rains of winter, we always know things will be bright at VOKRA because of our hundreds of dedicated volunteers. This November we’re celebrating Grace Cullen, a volunteer who shares her love with the kitties who need it most.

Grace has been caring for stray cats for at least the past 15 years in South Vancouver. She took in Niko, who had a damaged leg, Kit Kat, who’d been hit by a car and lost an eye and several others with varying illnesses and injuries. Luckily, she has a large house with several rooms so she can isolate a cat when needed.

Up until recently, Grace had five of her own cats and was also feeding strays in the neighbourhood. After feeding a stray she named Zozo for two years, she was finally able to catch him when he became very ill, and brought him to VOKRA where he’s been in our care for the past several months.

Grace was introduced to VOKRA by a friend and started helping out with the recycling. Grace was visiting Zozo daily and started visiting other cat residents who needed some TLC. She’s developed a special relationship with Tinka, who has a variety of issues, but runs to the door when she sees Grace arrive. They discuss philosophy and world issues together, as well as play string and have treats.

Grace has a special affinity with all animals and, when visiting the cats at our Operations Centre, she purposefully takes on those who need extra attention; besides Tinka, there’s Carmine and Ben, Scotty and Dancer and many others.

THANK YOU Grace for all the love you show the kitties, both indoors and outdoors. We know they love you just as much as we do!

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

Goodbye Spring

Spring has come and gone, but the memories remain…

Little Spring, the kitten we’ve been telling you about, has very sadly passed away. Her short life, and her close friendship with bestie Hamburgler, were a heart warming inspiration to us all, say many VOKRA volunteers.

“The most amazing thing about Spring was that her spirit was super strong even though her body was so very frail,” says VOKRA volunteer Susan, who spent a good deal of time with this little kitten. “In her short life she taught us to focus on the positive, make the most of what we have and love unconditionally.”

Spring was born with an inoperable genetic defect, a portosystemic liver shunt, a disorder in which a cat’s blood supply bypasses the liver, leading to increased toxins in the blood. Most kittens with this condition die within weeks of birth, so Spring’s relatively long life (she was 5 months when she passed) is an amazing tribute to VOKRA’s good care.

At first, volunteers at VOKRA’s Operations Centre weren’t sure how long this tiny kitten would be around. At a few weeks of age, Spring wasn’t thriving. She crouched in her cage, too nauseous to nibble on her food or even nudge the hands of volunteers who reached in to pet her cute self.

After a vet visit or two, she seemed to recover and our volunteers made a momentous decision. Another adorable feline had just been rescued from life on Vancouver’s streets. This cat, named Hamburgler as he was found hiding under a McDonald’s dumpster, was paired with Spring.

Spring and Hamburgler

At first, Spring was hesitant. Following some much-needed treatments, Hamburgler had become a happy rambunctious kittie, always wanting to play. He pounced on the little kitten, delighted to spot a new playmate.

But Spring soon learned to give as good as she got. On her healthy days, she and her new bestie chased each other around. On not so good days, Hamburgler began to help his friend, supporting her through her struggles.

Susan tells how he used to help make sure Spring was getting all the attentions she needed. “I was encouraging Spring to eat by getting her to lick food from my finger. It was a bit messy so when we were finished, Hammy rushed over and gave her face a good clean!”

Hamburgler even provided comfort on Spring’s worst days, when her health problems necessitated trips to the vet.

Hamburger in his new furever home

“When Spring travelled to the vet she would cry in the car,” says Susan. “But when Hammy started to accompany her in a shared carrier she was quiet and comforted. He even accompanied her on her last journey and groomed her beforehand to ensure she was respectable before they left!”

Hamburgler now has his own happy ending. He’s been adopted by VOKRA volunteer Leanne, who kindly waited to collect her new companion until Spring was no longer in need and then rushed in so Hamburgler would not have to spend a night alone in the pod he and Spring shared.

Leanne says Hamburgler is settling well into his new home, “He’s playing and giving me all the love and licks of affection.”

Spring’s fighting spirit, and her connection with Hamburgler, will linger in our minds for a long time.

In a final message about Spring, VOKRA co-founder Maria had this to say: “No matter what cards you are dealt, you can walk through life with kindness and love.”

Hamburgler says goodbye to Spring

The Great Grocery Stock Up is Back!

Right now when you stock up on grocery cards from Safeway, Save-on-Foods, Nesters Market and Stong’s VOKRA gets a higher percentage of the profits. 

These profits can really add up fast! Last year with the help of our fosters and volunteers we raised more than $3,800 which we used to buy things like cat food, litter and flea medicine.

We need to bulk buy the gift cards in order to get this higher return and that’s where you come in. We need you to order your Safeway*, Save-on-Foods**, Nesters Market and Stong’s cards by November 9.

  • Safeway cards are available in $25, $50, $100 or $250
  • Save-On-Foods and Nesters cards are available in $25, $50 or $100
  • Stong’s cards are available in $100 or $250
  • Order now – but you don’t need to pay until November 9 (We’ll even take a post-dated cheque for November 9!)
  • The cards will be delivered in late mid-November in time for the holiday season.

This is a limited time offer so be sure to place your order by November 9 by emailing vokragiftcards@gmail.com and let the gift card team know what you’d like. They’ll confirm your order and contact you to arrange payment and delivery. Want to know more about our gift card program? Click here.

You can help us reach our goal of $40,000 in sales. That’s a profit of more than $3,000 for VOKRA kitties!

*Safeway gift cards can be used at Sobeys, Foodland, FreshCo, Thriftyfoods, Lawtons & Needs.

**Save-On-Foods cards can be used at PriceSmart, Overwaitea and Cooper’s Foods.

2018 Board of Directors Election

VOKRA will be holding its 2018 Annual General Meeting on October 18 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Anyone can attend our AGM, however in order to vote you need to become a society member. Membership is only $10 and is a great way to show your support for VOKRA.

2018 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 18
7 to 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:15 p.m.)
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1573 – 18 Avenue E., Vancouver
RSVP & BECOME A SOCIETY MEMBER

Members will receive a full agenda package, but briefly, the points to be covered will be:

  • Minutes of the Previous AGM, October 19, 2017
  • Presentation: 2017 – 2018 in Review
  • Treasurer’s Report: 2017 Financial Statements
  • Motion to set membership fee post October AGM
  • Motions to change the bylaws to align with the new Societies Act
  • Election of board members
  • Thank you to the outgoing board
  • New business
  • Meeting adjourned

We have asked people to indicate whether or not they will be attending the meeting so we can get a rough idea of the number of people who will show up. People intending to run for Board positions must be present for both the nomination and the acceptance of the nomination. Under BC Society Act bylaws, no proxies are permitted.

At the AGM we will be electing six new members of the board of directors to serve a two-year term until 2020. Board membership is a leadership position within VOKRA that guides the organization to achieve its mission. Directors act in a position of trust for the community and are responsible for the effective governance of our organization.

Current board members seeking re-election:

Karen Duncan

Karen, along with Maria Soroski, founded VOKRA in 1999 with a mission to care for kittens that needed around the clock bottle feeding and treatment. With assistance and training from Dr. Brondwin at Arbutus West Animal Clinic, they were able to make their dream a reality and things grew from there. Over the years, Karen has seen VOKRA expand with ever growing teams of people who organize and share the work.  She’s thrilled the organization now has the Operations Centre, which has enough space to allow for safely housing incoming cats, storage and all of VOKRA’s volunteers. She’s also proud of VOKRA’s TNR program that has effectively eliminated the endless flow of tiny kittens from Vancouver streets.

Karen Kohfeld

Karen was elected to the board in 2016 and currently serves as secretary. She’s been involved with VOKRA for more than eight years as a foster, helping at events and the Operations Centre, as well as serving on the Medical Research team. Additionally, she’s encouraged her daughter’s participation in small ways (fundraising through a lemonade stand.) and helped to set up an outreach activity at her daughter’s school. With Karen’s background in science and research, she thinks systematically about problems and operations and approaches issues with an open mind.

Helen Savkovic

Helen has been involved with animal rescue since 2005 when she went down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. After returning home, she became involved with a local rescue where she worked on the campaign to ban the sale of puppies in Richmond pet stores and organized their entry in the Pepsi Challenge where they won $25,000. Helen strongly believes in the cause of animal welfare and the no-kill philosophy and brings a wealth of knowledge to VOKRA.

New candidates seeking election:

Ann Peters

Ann is a project management professional with 30+ years experience in business and a longtime supporter of VOKRA. She has a background in business administration, project and change management and has provided management consulting support to major Canadian companies, Crown corporations and private and public sector organizations. Ann was a volunteer executive director to a non-profit environmental education organization from 2000 to 2015 and still actively volunteers with the charity.

Ann has a strong financial analysis background, has extensive experience managing large demanding projects and an excellent track record for getting things completed on time and on budget. She also has excellent operational and human resources management experience and has provided contract senior management support to various organizations moving through change. Ann has provided support in the design and delivery of policy, process and procedure documentation for large to medium sized organization which provided much needed structure to organizations facing change.

Lea Tkatch

Lea has a deep seated love for all animals and is especially passionate about kitties. Over the past two years, she’s fostered more than 35 cats and kittens and also volunteers weekly doing cat care at our Operations Centre. Through her professional life, Lea has extensive experience working as a career  administrator with a focus on office management, executive support, human resources and recruiting, and project and events management.

Lea’s core strengths include being resourceful, detail oriented and diplomatic. She has excellent organizational and leadership abilities that are complimented by a positive attitude, a tireless work ethic and a love of all things feline.

David West

David’s the proud cat dad to three VOKRA kitties and has been volunteering as a foster, driver and receptionist since 2016. David, along with his wife Pat, were named as the VOKRA Volunteers of the Month for December 2017. Prior to his involvement with VOKRA, David spent more than 20 years as a Sail Canada Instructor Evaluator and served on the Learn to Cruise Committee of the Canadian Yachting Association. David also has extensive management experience after spending 15 years as the operations manager for Canada’s largest pleasure craft charter company.

Piper’s Happy Tail

Piper (formerly Sasha) is now singing a happier tune. This little cat had a rough start to her life but luckily she’s found a home, thanks to VOKRA and her adoptive kitty-mom.

Piper and her siblings were found in a ditch, covered with fleas and lesions from the fungal skin infection ringworm. It was VOKRA and vets who stepped in to help, said Eeva Wanders, who adopted six-month old Piper.

At first, the newly healthy Piper was very shy and VOKRA recommended a quiet home for this little kitty. At Eeva’s, it didn’t take long for Piper to come out of her shell. “For all [Piper’s] shyness, she took to me quickly and on the second night she jumped into my lap,” Eeva marveled. “The next morning I woke to her lying on my stomach.”

Eeva herself was delighted to meet Piper. Having lived with cats all her life, Eeva suddenly found herself alone and lonely after the death of her beloved Cairo. “I missed him terribly,” she said. “And I knew only a cat could help.”

Happily, Piper was there to fill this cat-shaped hole. Eeva says that even Piper’s markings seemed fortuitous. “I had hoped to find a silver tabby with a pink nose as I had one growing up. Lo and behold, there she was!”

Now, after six years together, Eeva and Piper are still very much enjoying each other’s company. The formerly shy Piper is “quite comfortable and curious of people and is keen to sniff their hair or ears,” said Eeva. “She LOVES to play and investigate boxes and paper bags. She loves her grey mouse, her felted braids and milk jug rings.  And she plays fetch…but only when she wants to.”

“She truly is an amazing and special cat,” Eeva said, “I’m glad to be owned by her.”

We’re glad, too, that Piper and Eeva have found each other and that Piper now has a forever home where she can be happy!

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

Volunteer of the Month – October 2018

Paul with Spitfire

October’s the month of Thanksgiving and we couldn’t be more thankful for all of our volunteers. Without the hundreds of individuals who give thousands of hours of their time each month, VOKRA, quite simply, wouldn’t exist. One of those volunteer is our Volunteer of the Month October – Paul Breland.

Paul began volunteering with VOKRA in the spring of 2013 and, since that time, he’s fostered 16 litters, including 15 moms and 67 kittens.

Paul started volunteering after being sent a link to a webcam run by a kitten foster for Purrfect Pals in Seattle. After watching him foster a mom and kittens for a while, Paul thought it looked like fun and there was no reason why he couldn’t do it.

“I had been going through my own kind of midlife crisis at the time, wondering what I was doing with my life besides working and playing PC games,” said Paul. “Helping kittens is a way to do something more meaningful with my spare time.”

As a foster of moms plus their kittens, Paul’s main focus is ensuring the kittens grow up to be healthy, friendly and well-trained. If the kittens are around a week old when they arrive, it’s mostly a matter of making sure mom is well-fed and her litter scooped. As the kittens grow, Paul gets them used to being around people and being handled. He watches for any sign of ill health and weighs them frequently to ensure they’re going in the right direction. At around five weeks old Paul helps transition them to eating wet food and using the litterbox. As they near adoption age, he then submits pictures and bios for the website and answers questions when potential adopters come to view them.

“Obviously, my favourite part of volunteering is getting to sit in a room surrounded by kittens!”, said Paul. “But aside from that, the best part is seeing how happy the adopters are when they pick up their new furry friends. Many have left in tears they’re so happy to be adding a new family member (or two or three).”

It’s hard for Paul to pick a favourite story out of so many, but when pressed he said fostering the “Shovel Kittens” is one of the best. “They were discovered on a cold, rainy November day when their mom was trying to shelter them under a shovel leaning against a house,” explains Paul. “When they came into my care, they were really hissy and didn’t like attention at all. But after weeks of socialisation and handling (and a bit of reverse psychology!), they discovered they loved attention and became purring lap kitties.”

It’s even more difficult to pick a favourite kitty out of the 82 he’s fostered so far, but Paul must go with Hurricane and Spitfire, two kittens he just adopted from his most recent litter as company for his 10-year-old girl kitty. Outside of family bias, one kitty who stands out is Dusty, adopted by a couple of Paul’s friends earlier this year. He’s a friendly little black floofball who became a little brother to another VOKRA kitty. He helped fill the void of a departed kitty and has become a huge part of their lives.

“Another one of my favourites is Elle, a dilute torbie who was over-the-top friendly and loved being held,” adds Paul. “She also went to a family who was having some tough times and immediately lifted everyone’s spirits.”

THANK YOU Paul for all the time, effort and love you put into ensuring all the moms and kittens in your care are set up for success! We can’t wait to hear more stories from the next 16 litters!

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’s always in need of volunteers and fosters. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer or vokra.ca/fostering.

Here Kitty Kitty! 

The rains have arrived and it’s time for all kitties to come in out of the cold. Here at the VOKRA, we work hard everyday to make sure cats who have no place to go have a roof over their head when the weather takes a turn.

Until recently, if you called “here Kitty Kitty” at our Operations Centre you’d have probably been talking to a single cat, an elderly gentleman named (you guessed it) Kitty Kitty.

This poor guy wouldn’t come running in answer though, as he has several age-related conditions that affect his mobility. He’s hyperglycemic and has arthritis in the lower part of his spine. When Kitty Kitty first came to VOKRA he couldn’t walk very well and our volunteers were concerned he was in a lot of pain. Everyone worked hard to find Kitty Kitty the right meds to help him move more comfortably.

Unfortunately, to make matters worse, Kitty Kitty started out not too relaxed in his temporary home and he had a tendency to nip. But after some medical care, and lots of cuddles and chin scratches from the team at Ops, Kitty Kitty started feeling much better. He’s still not the most agile of kitties, but he’s getting around and any volunteer or visitor who came to the back room where Kitty Kitty was staying was sure to be greeted by hopeful eyes and a little paw reaching out.

After Kitty Kitty’s temporary stay, he’s happier and healthier and has now moved on to a new home. Everyone will miss this super senior, but we’re glad we were able to ensure Kitty Kitty stayed warm, dry and loved while he was waiting for a permanent situation to come along.

If you’d like to help us help more kitties like Kitty Kitty, please donate today at www.givetovokra.ca.