Volunteer of the Month – February 2018

February is the month of love and we have an endless amount of it for our volunteers! This month we’re celebrating Mandy Douglas and her dedication to ensuring newly adopted kitties are insured. Here she tells us in her own words why she volunteers for VOKRA:

I started volunteering with VOKRA in the beginning of 2014. I had some big life changes the year before and decided to finally get involved with an organization I greatly admired. I first heard of VOKRA many years earlier, when my parents and I were feeding a large number of feral cats that started showing up around our house. VOKRA was kind enough to offer us the use of their Trap-Neuter-Return traps and help advise us on how best to catch these cats in order to get them fixed and find them homes. I respected the no-kill aspect and being entirely run by volunteers and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.

My first few months with VOKRA, I was helping out with administrative work in the very newly opened Operations Centre, but due to an irregular work rotation I was unable to commit to a consistent schedule, so instead I just focused on insurance vouchers. I work from home and register every cat who gets adopted with six weeks free insurance from Pets Plus Us. This process takes place 2-3 times per week, every week, without fail (even on my honeymoon, thanks to my very supportive husband!). Not only does this allow some protection to the adopter during the initial transition of bringing the kitty home, but Pets Plus Us also gives a donation to VOKRA for each registration.  Over the past four years, I’ve logged well over 500 hours and registered nearly 5,000 cats for their insurance!!

My favourite part of volunteering is seeing the “less desirable” cats find their homes – the older cats, ones with behavioural or medical difficulties and even the “superstitious” black cats. It’s always such a happy moment to learn these cats can spend their days being loved and cared for properly.

Monty

I’ve fallen in love with every cat I’ve met at the Ops Centre, but the most memorable ones were Monty and Cinnabar. These were cats who had suffered a lot, some at the hands of humans, but they didn’t let that affect their ability to trust and would allow me (a stranger) to cuddle them and even rub their bellies.  It was always a special moment and these cats served as role models for me and for the way I should conduct my life – not allowing the mistakes/abuse of others to affect my ability to trust or love someone new.

I genuinely love the work I do for VOKRA and I am honoured to be able to contribute to an organization I can be proud of. I look forward to many more years and thousands more cats!

THANK YOU Mandy!!! We’re the ones who are 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!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – January 2018

At VOKRA we have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who dedicate their time to ensuring everything runs smoothly. At our Operations Centre alone there are more than 160 different volunteers who come through the doors on a weekly basis! We’re starting off 2018 by recognizing one of the many teams that are critical to ensuring the kitties in our care are healthy and happy – the Medical Team.

The primary goal of the Medical Team is to improve the overall health of all the cats temporarily staying at our Operations Center – basically to ensure they’re healthy, fed and have a clean environment to live in. The team provides them with medical care and treatments, as well as environmental and social enrichment during their shifts. At the Operations Center we also work very closely with our Cat Care friends whenever a cat requires monitoring. This includes monitoring overall health, cold symptoms, appetite, bowel movements and urine output. In exchange for the help the Cat Care Team provides, the Medical Team also provides assistance to their associates by offering their hands to treating and feeding the more feral cats while assessing and monitoring their behaviours as well.

Ringworm + a cold makes for a tricky combination. But after lots of care and attention Cadbury is now healthy and in her forever home.

Besides monitoring, some of the treatments the Med Team provides include administering oral and topical medications, intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, routine vaccinations, deworming and deflea treatments. Particular infectious cases, such as colds and ringworm, require extra care so the team undertakes extra measures to prevent transmission to healthy cats. This includes gowning up and strict disinfection protocols around the clock. This past year at VOKRA was particularly challenging for the Medical Team as they had a few outbreaks of ringworm (which is a persistent skin fungus). Due to the teams diligence in administering oral medications in conjunction with topical creams and medicated baths, we’re happy to say they successfully treated 22 cases of ringworm in 2017.

Also, we have a few members of the Med Team who are involved with the Management Team. These lovely people assist in many ways, including scheduling, conflict management, error checking medical records, updating health records, organizing and strategizing new treatment plans, researching and writing new operating protocols, and the list goes on. With such large tasks at hand during regular medical shifts, this small cohort of people work together to make things more manageable, largely by creating a less stressful environment to work in.

The Medical Team removes a tick from the face of a kitten.

Overall, they work as a team to improve the overall health of all cats by providing them with the medical care and treatments they need for placement into foster homes. From bottle-feeders to geriatrics, and semi-ferals to ferals, we’re confident in saying the team is happy in treating them all in order to ensure their happiness in the long-term.

We’re so thankful to have such a talented team with diverse skills sets. We have registered nurses, a registered massage therapist, vet assistants, a veterinarian from Japan, a medical office assistant, a PhD, master’s and bachelor’s of both the arts and sciences, as well as animators and a pianist. THANK YOU to the entire Medical Team for your dedication and love of the kitties!

Management Team: Melissa Glier (volunteer since Aug 2016), Olivia Chorny (Feb 2017), Cheryl Linaksita (Aug 2016), Elisabeth Spielbichler (May 2017), Robyn CQ (March 2017)

Sarah Brown (Nov 2015), Tanita Egger (Jan 2016), Tiana Suadela, Andrea Tremblay-Legendre (Jan 2016), Jane Moira (Jan 2016), Vincent Wong (Jan 2016), Masayo Matsuoka (Aug 2016), Kathryn Melnyk (Jan 2017), Celine Uy (Jan 2017), Rebecca Wieland (April 2017), Amanda Henderson (June 2017), Ashley Crivea (June 2017), Pouya Shafiei (Nov 2017), Shannon Strachan (Oct 2017)

My favorite part working at VOKRA is that I never stop learning. We are so lucky to have Karen and Maria as our mentors. Cat’s are probably the hardest patients in the veterinary world which means we are constantly troubleshooting how to work with feral and unpredictable cats. Oh, and the babies!!!

Melissa Glier

 

I get to make a difference in the world, whether it be small or big. I love seeing the very sick strive to becoming healthier (Like Jorje or Charlie). I love giving kitties love when they have never experienced it. I love spending times with cats that are sad and depressed (like our dear Milo). I love seeing the turn around from semi feral or scared cats to total lap cats. It’s totally rewarding. Most importantly it gives me a purpose in my life. I feel that I belong at vokra. I feel part of something. And it helps me with my anxiety that I carry in my day to day life.

Elisabeth Spielbichler

 

My favourite thing about volunteering on the Medical Team is building relationships with the cats over time and bringing them joy. I also love seeing “complicated” kitties thrive and grow, Charlie and Ruther in particular. They both came in aggressive, terrified, and upset, but with trust and time, their behaviour did a 180°! Turns out they’re both cuddle bugs!

Jane Csiszar

 

My favourite part of volunteering has been meeting new people and witnessing all the effort every volunteer puts in at VOKRA!

Kathryn Drury-Melnyk

 

My favorite part of volunteering is to witness all those happy stories. To see the cats off the streets, sick or feral, healing at ops and then going to a foster home all recovered and ready for a better life.

Andrea Tremblay-Legendre

 

My favourite part of working with VOKRA is the community. It’s a group of people all working to empower each other to achieve one huge goal – help cats in whatever capacity they can. From the medical team, where it’s a delight seeing all of these kind people spending their limited spare time discussing the best ways to get a pill in a particularly difficult cat (shout out Charis), or what fun surprise they found in someone’s litter box that day, or even just supporting each other in their day to day lives. It’s a group of people fervent to learn and support each other.

This seems to be the case across the board for all the VOKRA teams. It’s definitely evident when I work with cat care. No matter how difficult the cat, every shift I see cat care volunteers patiently working to ensure that each cat is safe, secure, healthy, and, if the particular feline allows it, loved.

Olivia Chorny

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!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – December

It’s December and the end of the year is almost here! Time has surely flown by and we’ve accomplished more than ever this year, and it’s all thanks to our hundreds of volunteers. This holiday season we’re taking time to celebrate our December Volunteers of the Month, Pat Penner and David West!

Pat and David initially discovered VOKRA when they wanted to add to their family of two senior, rescued cats. They adopted Cowboy and Arthur soon after, making it a gang of four. They met Brenda, who was Arthur’s foster, and she encouraged them to foster kittens after their senior cats passed away. While saying no at first, they soon agreed to foster Errol, Sheldon and Millie. Lo and behold, they fell in love with these kitties right away. Here Pat and David tell the story of these three kittens:

Sheldon and Millie

“Errol was quickly adopted by the receptionist at the North Shore Veterinarian, who fell in love with him when he got neutered, but Sheldon had on-going health issues that we needed to support – respiratory problems, an enlarged heart and under-developed kidneys. Millie appeared healthy and was bonded with Sheldon, so they had to stay together while we resolved Sheldon’s problems. After months of seeking treatment for Sheldon, we’d fallen deeply in love with both him and Millie, so we decided to adopt Millie and apply to permanently foster Sheldon. Unfortunately, when we took Millie to the vet for a final check-up it was discovered she had a herniated diaphragm and many of her internal organs were in her chest cavity. Through working with Tasha B. at VOKRA—who is a fundraising super star—we were able to raise the funds to have surgery for Millie at Canada West Veterinary Specialists and she’s now a healthy and happy adult cat.”

Arthur

On top of fostering, Pat and David started driving for VOKRA in the summer of 2016. They’ve transported kitties everywhere from Richmond to Lion’s Bay (during rush hour!) and often pick up equipment to drop off at our Operations Centre. Pat and David share their first ever driving experience with us:

“Our first foray into driving was an action-packed Sunday—one of the hottest days of the year—where, directed by Anne Salomon (November’s Volunteer of the Month!), we picked up nine cats and kittens in the Surrey/Langley area, including entering a flea-infested trailer to pick up two adult cats and two kittens. By the time we reached Ops we’d safely picked up four kittens that were left in a box at a vet office, one adult cat that had successfully been treated for a broken hip and two flea-infested adult cats with 2 kittens. Anne called us the Kitty Choo-Choo, as a joke, but it really felt that way!”

Cowboy

Alongside driving, David has joined the Reception Team and has been filling a weekly reception shift at our Operations Centre. Pat, with her background in HR, has also now joined the Volunteer Recruitment Team. She’s spoken to all types of people from all walks of life and listens for “clues” as to their suitability during phone discussions. Regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances, one thing they all have in  common is love animals, have heard about VOKRA and want to join the organization.

At VOKRA, we recognize the hard work each of our volunteers put in to better the lives of the kitties in our care. Pat and David have devoted so much of their time and efforts to helping this organization grow and to ensuring all cats and kittens get the care and love they deserve. We sincerely thank you, Pat and David, for helping VOKRA work towards achieving our goal of helping all kitties and for being two lovely, dedicated individuals we all love working with!

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!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

We’re Looking For Volunteers!

We’re looking for volunteers to join our wonderful reception team!

Our reception team works at our Operations Centre in East Vancouver and is the first point of contact for our visitors.

We’re looking for volunteers that want to learn more about VOKRA and help our organization grow. Joining our reception team will enable you to learn about our cats by entering their information into our system, as well as by cuddling them! In addition to supplying guests with general information, the reception team helps with filing, volunteer management, inventory management and selling VOKRA merchandise.

Our reception team ensures the Operations Centre runs smoothly and plays a central role from when kitties enter our system to when they’re adopted, and everything in between.

Reception team volunteers must commit to a minimum of 1 shift a week (2-4 hours each).

If you’re interested in joining our reception team, please click here.

Volunteer of the Month – November

Now that snow has fallen upon us, we can safely say autumn is definitely starting to turn into winter. But here at VOKRA we’re never cold because we have so many cuddly kitties to bundle up with. This November, we’d like to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month, a champion cat-cuddler, Anne Salomon.

Anne has always been a cat lover, having grown up with a cat throughout her childhood. After she retired in 2008, she started volunteering with a shelter in Langley as their communications director and helped with fundraising. Taking a short break from that job, she quickly found herself volunteering with VOKRA, helping with trapping cats.

Anne with Little

Anne came to realize how big the homeless cat situation is and wanted to help the best she could. She has now trapped and helped save several hundred cats and kittens! Some rescues that stand out to Anne are Little, Dude and their two siblings. These were day-old kitties found in an abandoned house under construction.

Trapping is hard work, but Anne finds it wonderful to follow all the cats’ journeys on Facebook. At the same time, she faces a tinge of jealousy as all she wants to do is take them all home!

Anne on one of her many rescue missions

“I’m honoured to be on the VOKRA trapping team,” said Anne. “I always know the whole organization is behind us and that we work towards a common goal, to combat the homelessness of cats in our area. I cherish the camaraderie and support amongst the volunteers at VOKRA. The work is very rewarding and addicting, but at the same time, sometimes heartbreaking. There are highs and lows and I’ve learned it’s not just the cats that need our help. We end up helping people as well.”

We’re incredibly grateful for all the help Anne has given – through her time, effort and loyalty – to help VOKRA and the kitties. We’re lucky to have her on our team and the cats and kittens are very lucky to have Anne on their side. Thank you Anne for helping us towards our mission to end cat overpopulation and homelessness.

Post written by Aurora C.

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!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Wanted: Event Coordinator

We’re looking for a pro-active event coordinator to assume a leadership role and organize events to raise awareness and much needed funds to care for our ever-growing family of kittens and cats.

Responsibilities

  • Seek out fundraising event opportunities, research and recommend opportunities for new events;
  • Build relationships with local event organizers and vendors;
  • Screen event attendance requests and determine if appropriate;
  • Execute and plan VOKRA events – organize information tables/booths at local pet conventions, community events and pet food stores; ensure appropriate volunteer staffing, coordinate third-party event attendance;
  • Coordinate with other teams inside VOKRA as needed for events,
    such as Communications, Photography, etc.
  • Arrange transportation of promotional and event supplies to and from the event;
  • Manage record keeping and reporting for events – money raised, inventory sold, etc.
  • Participate as part of the Fundraising and Events committee, including attending quarterly meetings

Skills, Experience & Abilities

  • Highly organized, exceptional planner with high attention to detail;
  • Desire to lead and take ownership of events;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills: ability to work collaboratively with teams and fellow volunteers
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision
  • Adaptable, with a keen interest in VOKRA
  • Experience coordinating events
  • Access to a vehicle

To apply please complete the volunteer application form here and then email Pat at volunteervokra@gmail.com to let him know you’ve completed the application.

2017 AGM set for October 19

VOKRA will be holding its 2017 Annual General Meeting on October 19 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.

2017 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 19
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 13, 2016
  • Presentation: 2017 in Review
  • Treasurer’s Report: 2016 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.

At the AGM we will be electing six new members of the board of directors to serve a two-year term until 2019. 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 vice 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, coordinates the quarterly Mewsletter, manages the 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 loves hanging out on the couch reading or knitting with her CH cat Bran and she’s also a certified yoga teacher.

Nicky Forsman

Nicky’s Head of Creative for OUTtv and 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.

Andrea Langille

Andrea began volunteering with VOKRA in 2015 and took on the role of Treasurer in May 2017. She is a CPA, CGA with many years of experience in the not-for-profit area. In her role as Treasurer, Andrea works with the finance team to ensure the proper collection of revenue, processing of payments, tax and gaming grant compliance, and financial statement preparation. Andrea enjoys hiking, gardening and spending time with her friends, family and her senior kitty Lexus.

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 last year, where he helps lead the IT team. 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.

Vacancy: Director at Large

We’re actively recruiting for an additional director at large to serve a two year term. 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 meeting, 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: policy, finance, programs, personnel, 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.