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?

We’re Hiring!

VOKRA’s looking for a full-time, temporary Reception and Administrative Assistant to work out of our Operations Centre. This position is only open to individuals between the age of 18 – 30 and candidates must be eligible to work in Canada.

Hours per Week:

35 hours per week; maximum of 8 hours per day

Schedule:

  • Must be able to work weekends and statutory holidays.
  • Workdays will vary from week to week.
  • This is a full time, eight-week summer contract job opportunity to commence on July 2, 2019.

Required Skills and Attributes

  • Excellent written and oral English communication skills
  • Ability to work in a fast paced and dynamic team environment
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Confident self-starter with strong multi-tasking skills
  • Effective interpersonal skills
  • Customer service oriented
  • Intermediate computer and social media skills
  • Recent reception and or administrative assistant experience is a definite asset.

Other Job Requirements:

  • Must be flexible and able to adapt to changing daily work environment
  • Daily data entry
  • Ability to lift items to a maximum of 20 kg
  • Must be comfortable and able to handle tame and or shy cats/kittens.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Reception – Greet visitors and fosters at our Operations Center – ensuring that they are directed to the appropriate team member(s)
  • Answering the phone, voicemail, emails, and direct as appropriate.
  • Volunteer Management – Ensure that volunteers sign in for their shifts; ensure volunteer has signed the liability form
  • Inventory Management – Daily, replenish the food and litter in the front office from the supplies in the back room. Ensure that all fosters that pick-up supplies record what they take in the inventory book.
  • Data Entry/Filing – Filing documentation, Sorting mail
  • Cat management data entry (using “Pencilneck”)
  • Merchandise Sales and Donations – Handling cheque and or cash payment for VOKRA merchandise sold at reception, and for donations as received, and recording information appropriately
  • Merchandise and brochures replenishment
  • General Administration
  • Opening and or closing procedures
  • Daily updates to the cat/kitten control board (i.e. comings & goings)
  • Creating tracking binders and updating cat information in online databases
  • Preparing supply packages for fosters and providing basic information
  • Other administration duties as required
  • Inventory Control – Cat food and litter supplies, Medications, Operations Center supplies and consumables

Note: This position is funded by Canada Summer Jobs

Job Type: Temporary

Salary: $14.00 /hour

Want to apply? Email your resume and cover letter to opportunity.vokra@gmail.com

Volunteer of the Month – May 2019

This May we’re celebrating Robbyn Gulka, a volunteer who dedicates her time to ensuring our Operations Centre is spic and span. With so many kitties in our care, it doesn’t take long for the mess to pile up. Volunteers, like Robbyn, are vital to ensuring the kitties live in a clean and safe environment while they’re staying at Ops.

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

I began volunteering with VOKRA shortly after moving to Vancouver (from Ottawa) in October 2016. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 2.5 years!  I had spent several years volunteering for the Ottawa Humane Society, so when I moved here I wanted to continue with volunteer work in some capacity. I have always been surrounded by cats –  I grew up with them as a child and have adopted cats as an adult.

At VOKRA I work the Ops & Maintenance shift on Saturday afternoons. I undertake a lot of cleaning/washing/disinfecting (dishes, cat carriers, kennels and litter boxes) – as well as laundry and cat trees. I also support VOKRA by regularly mentoring new volunteers. On any given weekend new people will shadow me to review the Ops protocols and procedures. As I’ve been around a while, I’m happy to help in this regard.

The best thing about volunteering is the satisfaction I get from knowing that my time and efforts have a meaningful purpose. Aside from this, I love spending time socializing with the cats and it’s been an absolute pleasure meeting and getting to know the entire VOKRA team.

Rena

This past October, I lost my 16 year old cat, Maeve, to illness. It was a tough transition for me, as we had been together since I adopted her when she was 7. Just prior to her passing, I met Bumble one Saturday at VOKRA. I’m sure many people will remember Bumble. She was born in VOKRA’s care on April 2, 2016 (originally named Lavender) and then adopted by a family along with her sister. The adoption, unfortunately, didn’t work out for Bumble. After more than a year she was displaying behavioural issues and consistently peeing outside her litter box. She was subsequently surrendered back to VOKRA – and this is about the time I met her. Unlike a lot of the cats who arrive at the Ops Centre, Bumble was pretty chill. A little on the big side, she had to maneuver outside her kennel in order to be pet. She loved the attention. I think I was struck by her markings, but also by her stature. Aside from a few extra pounds, she’ very tall and long for a female cat. Anyway, I ended up keeping tabs on her as she transitioned to foster care, and eventually I tracked her down and adopted her in late December. She’s no longer Bumble (although sometimes I affectionately refer to her as such). Her name is now Rena and she has been a treat to have around. She’s a spunky three year old kitty… full of beans and energy. She loves food and her laser toy, and she’s a kneader. When she’s in the mood, she’ll snuggle up with me and knead endlessly. To save my skin, I have to wear heavy sweatshirts or sweaters:)

THANK YOU Robbyn for volunteering and for adopting Rena! All the time and effort you put in at our Operations Centre is very much appreciated.

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 – April 2019

Spring showers bring flowers – and a big THANK YOU to our hundreds of volunteers!

This April we’re celebrating Heather Rossi, a volunteer who’s dedicated to helping ensure escaped kitties are found. A majority of the cats in our care are housed in foster homes and sometimes they manage to get out. Cats are very clever and sometimes they sneak out an open door or window. If this should happen Heather’s there to help.

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

I started volunteering with VOKRA in the spring of 2010 when I saw a post on their Facebook page. I was hoping for something I could do from home – telephone or computer work. I started out helping with the fundraising team looking for grants to apply for. The first thing I noticed when I started meeting other volunteers was their outright dedication to the cats. This is one of the main reasons I continue to volunteer. VOKRA is such an awesome organization, 100% committed to the cats.

For a few years I helped find barn or farm homes for street cats that had been trapped. I started coming to the monthly meetings and assisted with taking/distributing the minutes and meeting reminders.

One of my favourite memories of my early volunteering is while at a monthly meeting VOKRA co-founder Maria mentioned that she’d received a call about a mom cat and kittens someone had seen near the Port Moody train station. Maria was looking for someone to trap them. I live not far from Port Moody so I said I could, but I didn’t know how to trap. After the meeting, Maria showed me how to set up the trap – at the side of her van on Broadway in the dark! The next day, my kids and I set out to trap the mom and kittens and by supper had managed to trap all four of them.

Because I live in Port Coquitlam and am unable to foster, I had not been able to volunteer directly with cats – until VOKRA arranged to have cats at the Petsmart in Coquitlam. I signed up for cat care there and this was one of my favourite times volunteering. It’s a good amount of work cleaning the kennels and feeding the cats, but the reward was being able to spend time with each of the cats there. I did have a soft spot for Rena, Mouse and Timmy.

I have helped with trapping, driving, fundraising, events – any time there is a need that I feel I can help with.

In 2015, VOKRA was looking for someone to be the main contact for escaped foster cats so I volunteered for this role. When a foster cat gets out of the house I’m the one who receives the email information. I create posters, send information to the lost pet sites, post on social media, etc.. and provide information to the foster and update the trapping and foster teams. I’m always happy when I receive a message that a cat is back safe and sound. I love helping in this way and I can do all the computer tasks, freeing the trapping team and other volunteers to search for the cat.

I am extremely honoured to be associated with VOKRA and the dedicated volunteers.

THANK YOU Heather! We’re the one who are extremely honoured to have you as a volunteer!

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.

A Happy Reunion for Oreo!

Oreo (a.k.a. Esther). When she first arrived we thought her ear had been frost bitten. No one ever guessed she’d been in a devastating fire.

All of VOKRA’s little kitties have stories to tell and Oreo’s is one of the most dramatic. Lucky for her, there’s a happy ending to go along with it.

Oreo and her family suffered a terrifying ordeal last April when their home was devastated by a fire. Oreo, an indoor kitty, was trapped inside.

Fortunately, Oreo has a very caring (and brave!) owner who rushed inside the burning building to rescue her. And when this confused kitty wiggled free and ran back inside, thinking it was safe, owner Marcus ran in a second time, finally managing to get little Oreo out of immediate danger.

Thanks to Marcus, Oreo was alive, but she did need oxygen at the site to help her recover. She was also found to have further injuries—burns on her paws and a partly missing left ear—that required a visit to the vet, followed by a large bill.

Oreo (far left) gets some much needed oxygen.

 

At first all was well, but Oreo’s adventures weren’t over. As their house had burned down, Oreo and her family moved to a house more than 10 blocks away. By accident, on the very day she was schedule to be spayed, she got out of her new place and didn’t know where to go. She tried to go back to her old home and became lost.

Marcus searched frantically for Oreo, even going back to his old house and setting up feeding stations. But he wasn’t able to locate her.

Oreo was rescued in December, but there was a twist. Little Oreo had five kittens in tow! The family was brought to our Operations Centre for assessment and, despite living on the streets, everyone was healthy and in good spirits.

Oreo with her kittens.

Oreo (who was named Esther upon arrival) and her new kittens were sent to live with a foster, but not before their adorable photos were put on VOKRA’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Marcus hadn’t given up on finding his beloved pet and he was delighted to spot pictures of Oreo, and even more delighted to find she was well and cared for.

Earlier this month, Marcus and Oreo were reunited and are closer than ever. “She greets me every time I come home,” says Marcus. “She’s so happy now!”

Not all kitties have stories as dramatic as Oreo’s. But, regardless of how they arrived, the kitties in our care get the happy endings they deserve with the help and care of our many volunteers and fosters.

Oreo and Marcus

Come run with us on June 23!

On June 23, Team VOKRA will be participating in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon and 5k run/walk and we want you to join us. It might not change your life, but your support will definitely help change the lives of the more than 1,400 kitties we rescue each year.

Abu – before and after

Kitties like Abu, a tiny orphaned kitten who arrived at VOKRA hungry and with a bad cold. He, along with his brother and sister, needed round-the-clock care and bottle feeding. As the runt of the litter, we weren’t sure if Abu would make it, but with the care and attention of his foster mom he’s thriving today and has gone to his new home.

Whether they’re kittens or adults, feral or tame, healthy or sick – VOKRA provides them all with the best care we can. But this does come at a cost.

You don’t have to be an athlete to join. And few on our team have ever fundraised before either (you only need to commit to raising a minimum of $50). All you need is a love of cats. This love is what unites us as a team and carries us all over the finish line!

It’s super easy to get started. To join Team VOKRA simply click here to register. And, as a bonus, each team member is entitled to a special preferred rate. To get the preferred rate be sure to enter one of the following charity codes in the charity code field at the bottom of the registration page:

Half-Marathon discount code: 19VOKRA21K
5K discount code: 19VOKRA5K

Don’t forget to indicate you’re joining the VOKRA official charity team and add “Team VOKRA” as the name on your bib!

Once you’re registered you’ll receive a link to your personal fundraising page so you can get started right away. And to help ensure you achieve your goal, Team VOKRA will provide you with a motivational emails to help you fundraise. We’ll also invite you to join the Team VOKRA Facebook group so you can connect with your fellow team members. So there’s no excuses! Sign up today and join Team VOKRA!

Be sure to reserve your Team VOKRA spot as soon as possible so you don’t miss out!

Don’t want to run? You can still help when you sponsor Team VOKRA today!