Volunteer of the Month – December 2019

One of the first times Charlie jumped on Frederick’s lap

The holiday season is upon us and it’s the purrfect time to celebrate our volunteers! This month we’re toasting to Frederick Lee, a medical team volunteer who always goes above and beyond to spend time with the kitties at our Operations Centre.

Frederick first became interested in joining VOKRA back in January 2016. As he didn’t have any prior experience with cats, he was asked to join the cat care team so he could learn the ropes. He started his first cat care shift on the last Sunday of February 2016 and has been with us ever since and is now a member of the medical team.

“After feeding the cats, I usually stay for a little while to spend more time with them,” said Frederick. “My favourite part of volunteering is definitely spending time with the cats and I usually stay for a little while after my shift. The first cat I had sit in my lap for a while was an orange tabby named Stewart. He passed away a few weeks after I met him, but I’m glad we were able to spend some time together.”

Of all the cats Frederick has looked after his favourite is Charlie, a cat with cancer who was also prone to lashing out suddenly.

“One Sunday, after my cat care shift, I went into Charlie’s kennel and sat in the chair,” remembers Frederick. “After sitting and watching Charlie for a while he jumped up onto the chair, then sat in my lap, so I left him to sit until he got off again. I continued to clean the front room where his kennel was first thing in the morning and, after some weeks, Elizabeth from the medical team showed me how to give Charlie his meds and how to prepare his food. After every shift, I would go sit in his kennel and he would come sit with me for one, two or more hours at a time. I spent some months being his personal heater through the winter. He eventually passed away, but he outlived his estimated life expectancy by a few months.”

Kobe, a VOKRA kitty Frederick adopted in April 2019

“Frederick’s great,” said Cassie Preston from our Operations Centre. “I’ve come into Ops at 8 a.m. on a Sunday and he’s already started! He takes his time and is patient with every cat, takes feedback well and is learning and improving his techniques each week. He’s great to work with and all the Sunday volunteers know him by name. We’re very lucky to have him.”

“Fredrick’s an amazing member of our medical team,” adds VOKRA co-founder Maria Soroski. “What makes Fredrick special is he not only comes to his two-hour shift but also spends another three to four hours after that to make sure the medical cats gets the love and attention they need.”

“Our medical team is crucial to giving meds to all the cats that are sick or need treatment,” continued Maria. “This is intensive work that requires special experience or knowledge. Sometimes we have cats with ringworm, which is a fungus on their skin, and these cats need daily baths. It’s hard work, especially if the kittens are feral. Fredrick gowns up in special clothing and wears latex gloves to protect him from the fungus and then after the baths are done he cleans and disinfects every single kennel and bedding. It’s quite the task every day.”

THANK YOU Frederick for your time and dedication to all the VOKRA kitties. In the words of Maria, “We love Fredrick. He’s such a lovely, nice guy!”

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.

Aryan’s Purrfect Presentation

Earlier this year, the students of Mrs. Kim’s grade 5 class at Westcot Elementary School were each tasked with doing a presentation about a charity of their choice, with the winner of the competition receiving a donation to give to their charity.

Aryan chose VOKRA and he paid a visit to our Operations Centre to interview co-founders Karen Duncan and Maria Soroski. Aryan asked lots of thoughtful questions and got to learn all about how VOKRA was founded and the work we do today. He also got to meet several of the kitties in our care and documented his visit with many photos.

Aryan took everything he learnt from Karen and Maria and created a wonderful presentation highlighting the stories of several of the cats he met or heard about.

We’re thrilled to report all of Aryan’s hard work paid off and he won the competition! We’re very proud of him and grateful he chose to learn about our organization. Congratulations Aryan!

 

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.

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

Volunteer of the Month – February 2019

Bob and Kaspurritto

It may be cold outside, but at VOKRA our hearts are always warm because we’re surrounded by our volunteers. This month we’re celebrating Bob Van Dusen, a volunteer who always brings a smile to our Operations Centre.

Here Bob tells us in his own words why he volunteers with VOKRA:

I’ve been volunteering with VOKRA for almost two years now. I first heard about the organization after the loss of my sweet Pippo after 16 years together. His sister Alexandra was still with us so we were thinking of getting her a little playmate. Our vet’s office suggested going through VOKRA to find a kitty.  We decided not to proceed at that time as Alexandra seemed to enjoy being the only child. Not long after she too passed and left us very sad and empty.

Khloe and Fumee just a few days after being adopted.

It was about a month later and we decided we needed to fill our home once again with kitty love. We of course remembered VOKRA and looked on the website and found the kitties that would become part of our family. Khloe and Fumee are now closing in on seven years with us.

I wasn’t working during the first few years after we adopted them and needed something to occupy some of my time. As I’ve always been a huge cat lover I applied to volunteer with VOKRA and was contacted regarding a position at the front desk which I accepted.

My initial contact with VOKRA was with Monique who spent a lot of time with me getting me up to speed with all the responsibilities of the front desk and how we contribute to the overall smooth running of the VOKRA machine. I can’t say enough great things about Monique. She’s more than a mentor/teacher, she has become a confidant, therapist and friend.

Bob with Poppy

As time passed I took on more responsibility and joined the financial team in a very limited capacity which I enjoy very much. I’ve strived to learn as much as I can about the different areas of VOKRA so I can be of use when a need arises.

Being a part of the VOKRA family has done so much for me as a person. The amazing people who are a part of this organization have welcomed me and I truly feel like I’ve gained a new family.

I have met so many wonderful kitties during my time at VOKRA. Of course, Charis is a particular favourite as she was one of the first kitties I met on my first day. My sweet Kaspurritto stole my heart in a big way. Most recently the darling Poppy tugged at the heart strings and am so happy to see her doing so well in her foster home. So many more I’ve wanted to bring home and all have such a special place in my heart.

C’Fer

One memory stands out right now. One Tuesday morning before my 2 p.m. shift I received a call from the morning receptionist Jennifer to ask me a favour. The vet clinic on Davie Street had been visited by a young man who was wanting to have his 12-year-old kitty euthanized for some behavioural issues. The clinic refused and found out he had been shopping his cat around the downtown clinics, all of whom thankfully refused. The clinic on Davie contacted VOKRA’s Operations Centre to see if we would be willing to take him in as the owner was just going to dump the cat in the wild somewhere. Being VOKRA, of course they said yes. The young man was contacted and surrendered his kitty at the clinic.  My small part was to pick him up and bring him to Ops. None of us saw evidence of the “issues” his former owner had described. It’s a testament to the dedication of VOKRA that C’Fer is flourishing in his foster home and hopefully will find his furever home soon. I just feel so fortunate I was able to contribute in my way to saving this wonderful cats life.

Finally, I want to thank Karen and Maria for creating VOKRA and a place where kitties and humans can become the best they can be. My life has been so enriched by being a part of this organization. So many others inspire me with the dedication and hard work they put forth for VOKRA.

THANK YOU Bob for all your dedication and the time and energy you put towards helping the kitties of VOKRA. We couldn’t be more appreciative!

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.