Volunteer of the Month – July 2017

Dania with one of her kitties, Mouse

On the heels of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, we’d like to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month for July, Dania Sheldon!

Dania discovered VOKRA when she rescued a cat who had been abandoned in a burning apartment; the humans had an illegal grow-op and left her there when an electrical fire started. She thought the cat might like company, so she looked online for options. It seemed to her VOKRA was a good fit as the foster system seemed a much better approach to cats’ welfare than the shelter model. Dania also had previous experience of caring for unweaned orphaned kittens. She has been volunteering with VOKRA since 2005, when she adopted her first three bottle-feeders who had been discovered in a bag in a dumpster.

With Maximus and Thumbelina

Before moving to Gabriola Island, Dania was involved in the day-to-day running of VOKRA as the operations manager. She was in charge of many tasks, such as cat care, bringing kitties to new foster homes, picking up and delivering supplies, fundraising and developing publications such as our Mewsletter and annual VOKRA calendar. Since moving to Gabriola, she’s continued with the calendar through to the 2017 issue, along with facilitating and coordinating the adoptions of VOKRA cats who require safe indoor/outdoor homes that can be found on Gabriola. Dania also represents VOKRA on the Rescue Roundtable, which is a coalition of no-kill rescue groups in  southern BC, sharing education, experience and contacts to achieve the best possible outcomes for animals in need.

“My favourite part of volunteering is spending one-on-one time with cats, particularly those who are shy, frightened, semi-feral or otherwise in need of particular consideration and care,” says Dania. “There is nothing more absorbing, for me, than being entirely focused upon another being and trying to provide whatever will soothe their anxiety. If this means sitting in a room for hours at a time, pretending not to notice a cat while s/he assesses me, I’m up for it. What’s more amazing than the feeling you experience when a once terrified, wary cat decides to trust you? Nothing. That’s the best.”

We’re grateful for all the hard work Dania has put into volunteering with our organization for the past 12 years. She’s helped VOKRA grow and improved the lives of countless kittens and cats. A favourite story that has stuck with her is told below by Dania:

“A little male tabby kitten had been born with his rear left leg significantly shorter than the others. He required ongoing physio, as he also had some spinal deformity either due to or concurrent with the stunted limb. Given his need for indefinite specialized care, it could have been difficult to find him a home, but a family in which the parents were physios heard about him and were interested. As it happened, their boy had a similar condition with one of his legs. His name was Keegan, and he fell in love with this kitten, whom he named Keegan. VOKRA received a note from the mum, who said that this little cat had completely transformed her son’s life; his whole demeanour had changed now that he’d found his buddy, whom he talked to and hung out with all the time and kept up to date on daily events.”

With Lua, a kitty who survived a spinal cord injury. Dania’s written a book about Lua and you can learn all about it here

We thank Dania for helping with the rescue and rehabilitation of cats for the past 12 years and we’re sure the kitties she has saved thank her too.

“There would be no VOKRA if Dania had not stuck with me in my basement in 2005,” say Karen Duncan, co-founder of VOKRA. “We were pretty well done, overwhelmed by the numbers coming in. It was only through her determination and ability to get things sorted and written that we were able to pull through. We were sure we pulled it off with our wonderful glass magic wands which we zipped out every time we ran into a new impossible problem, waving them with desperate hope to find answers. We shared so many tears and much hysterical laughter over this time, and have been great friends ever since.”

Karen sums up our gratitude to Dania pretty well, so we just want to acknowledge and give thanks for every single ounce of work Dania has put into this organization. You have helped VOKRA take off and we couldn’t be happier to have you on our team!

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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