Volunteer of the Month – April 2016

CharisWe’re kicking off National Volunteer Week by introducing you to our Volunteer of the Month for April – Charis Kalesnikoff!

Charis has been volunteering with VOKRA since 2012. However, well before she came across our organization she frequently volunteered at various animal shelters doing cat care. Several years ago, Charis started researching cat behavior, prompting her to spend extra time observing and interacting with cats who were having trouble adjusting. Conducting this research and being alongside cats made Charis long to work with a positive, supportive organization that’s able to address the unique needs of all cats and help to make them “adoptable”. Valerie, whom she was acquainted with at other shelters, encouraged Charis to volunteer with VOKRA.

As a VOKRA volunteer, Charis cares for the cats as best as she can. She drives, delivers, traps, helps find lost cats, and just about anything that she can do to help. Soon, she realized that although VOKRA wanted to save as many kittens and cats as they could, costs were an issue. Charis then became an active fundraising volunteer. She helps with various events such as Walk for the Kitties, attends information and adoption events around the Lower Mainland and works hard selling our calendars and gift cards.


Charis (r) and Valerie spread the word about VOKRA at a recent event at VanCity

The main fundraising activity Charis participates in is the gift card program. Here she tells us how it all started:

“One night at a VOKRA meeting, I asked Karen about a handful of gift cards sitting in a box that were for sale but not being bought,” explained Charis. “I told Karen I would try to sell the cards and give it a one year trial. The first month we made a profit of a pitiful $25 – hardly enough to contribute to vet bills, food, litter, etc. The rest is history. Our gift card program is alive and well, and we now have a hardworking Gift Card Team of five volunteers.”

All Charis’ effort and long hours are because she believe in the work VOKRA does and because she loves cats.


At first Webster wasn’t so sure about being indoors

“My favourite rescue story is of a cat that I called Webster,” said Charis. “His journey that year with me and several VOKRA volunteers is representative of how meaningful the work of rescuing cats is for all of us. This young, handsome and clever cat had survived a winter in a rundown, deserted cabin. It was due for demolition very soon, so he would have no shelter. He was beside a busy highway close to a coyote den and searching for food during the night. It took me a month to trap him and he was terrified, but not aggressive. Once I took him to VOKRA, we questioned whether he would ever be able to live inside a home and trust humans. Thankfully nobody would give up on him.”


Webster well adjusted and happy today

Charis goes on to say, “Webster was a challenge, but was eventually fostered by Becky (from Confident Cats) when no other foster volunteer could be found to work with him. He’s the signature cat on Becky’s workshop photo teaching us how to help shy and fearful cats. This lucky boy has been living in a wonderful forever home for over a year now. His owners send updates which tell us he is healthy, happy, spoiled and adored by his adopted family. I miss him but love that he is safe and loved.”

Charis is clearly dedicated to VOKRA and all the work we do. She’s an incredible asset to our organization and we’re lucky to have her do all the work she does. Thank you, Charis! You’ve been with us for more than four years and we look forward to many more… and more stories too!

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.

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