Volunteer of the Month – November 2019

This November we’re celebrating vaccination team member Giselle Lightle as our Volunteer of the Month.

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

I’m a kitten vaccinator and have the scars to prove it….

Several years ago I took early retirement from a career in nursing and was wondering what to do with myself that was worthwhile and left me time to do all the other things I’d been looking forward to. A friend suggested training an assistance dog which seemed like a lovely idea. I spent more than two years training an absolutely wonderful lab but it took up every waking moment of my time. As much as I enjoyed the experience it was just way too much of a commitment. It did, however, confirm that I wanted to be involved with animals in some capacity. I’ve had and adored cats all of my life so started looking into cat rescues.

Giselle’s vaccination set-up

Around that time VOKRA was looking for volunteer vaccinators and with my background in nursing it seemed ideal, so I applied and was accepted.  Getting to visit and vaccinate fluffy little kittens seemed like the perfect job.

I was trained by Karen at Ops and turned loose. Technically the process is simple: I receive a request form from my vaccinations coordinator with information about the kittens needing vaccine, I coordinate a time with the foster for the visit, drive out to their home with all my supplies, vaccinate the kittens and finally report back to my coordinator that the kittens were done.

In the beginning, it turned out there were few little fluffy, purring bundles of joy and more hissy, spitty little demons with needle-sharp bits flying in every direction. I simply hadn’t anticipated that even teeny, tiny kittens can be ferocious (I’m looking at YOU, Skittles!) and they might not want to be vaccinated. I had to become good at doing kitty burritos and scarf wraps. Fosters and I had to learn how to best restrain little ones so they could be safely vaccinated without traumatizing the kittens or ourselves.  Eventually I learned to do it without any blood being shed.

Giselle’s rescue Bengal and her two hooligan children

Fortunately, the majority of the kittens I see are indeed the roly poly little ones who play, bounce around, climb into my bag, toss my supplies around and let me kiss their bellies. I’ve been doing this for 3 1/2 years now and occasionally even train new vaccinators.  This is the best job ever!

THANK YOU so much Giselle for ensuring the kittens in our care are vaccinated so they stay healthy and happy. We’re very lucky to have you as a part of our vaccination team!

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 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 $3,600 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 11.

  • 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 $50, $100 or $200
  • Order now – but you don’t need to pay until November 11 (We’ll even take a post-dated cheque for November 15!)
  • The cards will be delivered by the end of November so they can be used for the holiday season.

This is a limited time offer so be sure to place your order by November 11 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 (be sure to add vokragiftcards@gmail.com to your safe sender list so the confirmation email doesn’t end up in your junk box!). 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, Urban Fare and Cooper’s Foods.

2019 Board of Directors Election

VOKRA will be holding its 2019 Annual General Meeting on October 10 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.

2019 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 10
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
(Online membership sales close at 3 p.m. on Oct. 10. Memberships will be for sale at the door.)

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

  • Minutes of the Previous AGM, October 18, 2018
  • Presentation: 2018 – 2019 in Review
  • Treasurer’s Report: 2018 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 2021 and one new member to serve a one-year term. 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:

Tasha Bukovnik

Tasha’s been volunteering with VOKRA since 2014 and has been on the board since 2016, currently in the role of president. She’s a public relations professional and leads VOKRA’s integrated communications and marketing team. She oversees all of VOKRA’s social media activities, manages the Mewsletter and blog, coordinates the development of marketing materials, helps promote events, handles media relations and generally supports other VOKRA teams with whatever they need. Tasha also leads the fundraising committee and her main focus is to manage VOKRA’s direct fundraising initiatives and appeals. When not volunteering, Tasha can usually be found at the yoga studio.

Nicky Forsman

Nicky is mostly known to those at VOKRA as the producer/director of the documentary series Kitty 911. Filming the series gave Nicky a unique perspective of all facets of VOKRA. It allowed her to meet volunteers from all departments and really delve into how the organization functions – an opportunity not many VOKRA volunteers are lucky enough to have. This insight inspired Nicky to join the board late last year and continues to inform the work that she does at VOKRA. When Nicky’s not working she’s usually at home snuggled up with her kitty Brooklynn, a former VOKRA mama, or educating her neighbours about how their cats should really be kept inside. A huge passion of hers, Nicky dreams of a world where seeing a cat outdoors alone raises the same red flag for the general public as it would to see a dog in the same situation.

Jeff Matthews

Jeff and his son Raine have been enthusiastic VOKRA volunteers for close to seven years. Originally starting out as drivers, they’ve taken on a range of roles, including cat care, failed foster, vaccinations and generally being available to help out when needed. Jeff was elected to the board in 2016 and spearheads many of VORKA’s grant writing efforts. He’s also the proud companion to two VOKRA kitties. Jeff has had a life-long love of animals, dedicating much of his spare time to volunteer activism for the environment and animal rights, including a stint as President of Sea Shepherd Canada. In his professional life, Jeff holds a PhD in Physics from UBC, working as a biomedical research consultant and advisor.

Maria Soroski

Maria co-founded VOKRA with Karen Duncan in 1999, after years of volunteering with cats and kittens. While volunteering, Maria saw a desperate need to develop a holistic approach to cat and kitten care, as well as a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program in order to keep the feral and homeless cat population down. After VOKRA’s inception, Maria’s dream started coming true. Local shelters were seeing a dramatic drop in feral cat and kitten numbers in Vancouver – something Maria is proud to have helped with. She paved the way with VOKRA’s founding values and continues to ensure that as a no-kill organization, the TNR program is one of the best in BC. With a passion for giving homeless and feral cats a happy and healthy life, Maria always ensures VOKRA uses organic and nutritious food for all cats. With VOKRA keeping her busy, the former prairie gal loves to reward herself with time spent at home relaxing with her cats.

New candidates seeking election:

Brian Blamey, BA, CGA CPA

Brian brings his athletic endurance, zeal and energy to public practice at Galloway Botteselle & Company where he has been a partner since 1996. Brian deals with the everyday issues small to medium‐sized businesses face regarding taxes, business expansions or reorganizations, acquisitions, valuations, and personal financial planning. He has dealt with the requirements of, and the audit for, a number of not for profit organizations. Brian is also an effective teacher and has made numerous presentations on the latest changes in tax laws and how to reduce taxes.

Brian is past Chair of the Porter Hétu International’s National Management Committee, a group of independent accounting firms across Canada and internationally, and is currently the treasurer for the Achilles International Track and Field Society.

Brian and his wife Rose are supporters of VOKRA and have fostered a number of cats, although they did foster fail with their first foster. Rose has been a volunteer with VOKRA for the past three years and encouraged Brian to become a board member. Earlier this year, Brian was appointed by the VOKRA board to fill the vacant role of treasurer.

Shelley Dowson

Shelley has volunteered for the past 11 years, since discovering VOKRA and adopting her two kitties Chookah and Ubu. She has volunteered for VOKRA in many different capacities: as a foster coordinator, adoption interviewer, adoption contracts, surrenders, event coordinator, adoption event coordinator and cat care. More recently, Shelley was instrumental in getting our Operations Centre up and running and she continues to coordinate building logistics.

During the day, Shelley works in the “not so real world“ of film and television, spending the past 25 years as a paint coordinator. As a result, she has been able to access materials that are to be recycled or has been in the right place at the right time to receive that perfect item the Operations Centre needs. She can usually be found at Ops whenever she is not working, busily moving or organizing things to run more smoothly for the volunteers.

Shelley is a past board member and is looking forward to returning to the board.

Vacancy: Director at Large

VOKRA is actively recruiting for one new member to join the board as a director at large. We are especially looking to fill the vacancy with someone with a strong background in human resources.

A director is fully informed on organizational matters and participates in the board’s deliberations and decisions in matters of policy, finance, programs, personnel and advocacy. They also review the bylaws and policy manual and recommend bylaw changes to the membership; participate in the development of VOKRA’s organizational plan and annual review; and assist in developing and maintaining positive relations among the board, committees, operations management team, volunteers and community to enhance VOKRA’s mission. Directors at large are required to attend monthly VOKRA board meetings, including preparation time to review materials.

Here’s what it takes to be a board member:

  • Membership in the VOKRA society. You must be a member to be a board member
  • Commitment to the work of the organization
  • Knowledge and skills in one or more areas of board governance: personnel, policy, finance, programs, fundraising and advocacy
  • Willingness to serve on committees and attend committee meetings
  • Attendance at monthly board meetings + preparation time to review materials
  • Attendance at meetings of assigned committees
  • Attendance at Annual General Meetings
  • Support of special events
  • Support of and participation in fundraising events

If you’ve got what it takes and want to learn more email communications@vokra.ca.

2019 AGM on October 10

VOKRA’s 2019 AGM is coming up on October 10 and we’re actively recruiting for one new member to join the board as a director at large. If you have a strong background in human resources we’re looking for you!

A director is fully informed on organizational matters and participates in the board’s deliberations and decisions in matters of policy, finance, programs, personnel and advocacy. They also review the bylaws and policy manual and recommend bylaw changes to the membership; participate in the development of VOKRA’s organizational plan and annual review; and assist in developing and maintaining positive relations among the board, committees, operations management team, volunteers and community to enhance VOKRA’s mission. Directors at large are required to attend monthly VOKRA board meetings, including preparation time to review materials.

Here’s what it takes to be a board member:

  • Membership in the VOKRA society. You must be a member to be a board member
  • Commitment to the work of the organization
  • Knowledge and skills in one or more areas of board governance: personnel, policy, finance, programs, fundraising and advocacy
  • Willingness to serve on committees and attend committee meetings
  • Attendance at monthly board meetings + preparation time to review materials
  • Attendance at meetings of assigned committees
  • Attendance at Annual General Meetings
  • Support of special events
  • Support of and participation in fundraising events

If you’ve got what it takes and want to learn more email communications@vokra.ca.

2019 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 10
7 to 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:15 p.m.)
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1573 – 18 Avenue E., Vancouver

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.

RSVP & BECOME A SOCIETY MEMBER
(Online membership sales close at 3 p.m. on Oct. 10. Memberships will be for sale at the door.)

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

  • Minutes of the Previous AGM, October 18, 2018
  • Presentation: 2019 in Review
  • Treasurer’s Report: 2018 Financial Statements
  • Motion to set membership fee post October AGM
  • Motions to change the bylaws (if any)
  • Election of the 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.

 

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!