Volunteer of the Month – November 2018

As the last rays of autumn sunshine give way to the rains of winter, we always know things will be bright at VOKRA because of our hundreds of dedicated volunteers. This November we’re celebrating Grace Cullen, a volunteer who shares her love with the kitties who need it most.

Grace has been caring for stray cats for at least the past 15 years in South Vancouver. She took in Niko, who had a damaged leg, Kit Kat, who’d been hit by a car and lost an eye and several others with varying illnesses and injuries. Luckily, she has a large house with several rooms so she can isolate a cat when needed.

Up until recently, Grace had five of her own cats and was also feeding strays in the neighbourhood. After feeding a stray she named Zozo for two years, she was finally able to catch him when he became very ill, and brought him to VOKRA where he’s been in our care for the past several months.

Grace was introduced to VOKRA by a friend and started helping out with the recycling. Grace was visiting Zozo daily and started visiting other cat residents who needed some TLC. She’s developed a special relationship with Tinka, who has a variety of issues, but runs to the door when she sees Grace arrive. They discuss philosophy and world issues together, as well as play string and have treats.

Grace has a special affinity with all animals and, when visiting the cats at our Operations Centre, she purposefully takes on those who need extra attention; besides Tinka, there’s Carmine and Ben, Scotty and Dancer and many others.

THANK YOU Grace for all the love you show the kitties, both indoors and outdoors. We know they love you just as much as we do!

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’s always in need of volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

2018 Board of Directors Election

VOKRA will be holding its 2018 Annual General Meeting on October 18 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.

2018 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 18
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 19, 2017
  • Presentation: 2017 – 2018 in Review
  • Treasurer’s Report: 2017 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 2020. 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:

Karen Duncan

Karen, along with Maria Soroski, founded VOKRA in 1999 with a mission to care for kittens that needed around the clock bottle feeding and treatment. With assistance and training from Dr. Brondwin at Arbutus West Animal Clinic, they were able to make their dream a reality and things grew from there. Over the years, Karen has seen VOKRA expand with ever growing teams of people who organize and share the work.  She’s thrilled the organization now has the Operations Centre, which has enough space to allow for safely housing incoming cats, storage and all of VOKRA’s volunteers. She’s also proud of VOKRA’s TNR program that has effectively eliminated the endless flow of tiny kittens from Vancouver streets.

Karen Kohfeld

Karen was elected to the board in 2016 and currently serves as secretary. She’s been involved with VOKRA for more than eight years as a foster, helping at events and the Operations Centre, as well as serving on the Medical Research team. Additionally, she’s encouraged her daughter’s participation in small ways (fundraising through a lemonade stand.) and helped to set up an outreach activity at her daughter’s school. With Karen’s background in science and research, she thinks systematically about problems and operations and approaches issues with an open mind.

Helen Savkovic

Helen has been involved with animal rescue since 2005 when she went down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. After returning home, she became involved with a local rescue where she worked on the campaign to ban the sale of puppies in Richmond pet stores and organized their entry in the Pepsi Challenge where they won $25,000. Helen strongly believes in the cause of animal welfare and the no-kill philosophy and brings a wealth of knowledge to VOKRA.

New candidates seeking election:

Ann Peters

Ann is a project management professional with 30+ years experience in business and a longtime supporter of VOKRA. She has a background in business administration, project and change management and has provided management consulting support to major Canadian companies, Crown corporations and private and public sector organizations. Ann was a volunteer executive director to a non-profit environmental education organization from 2000 to 2015 and still actively volunteers with the charity.

Ann has a strong financial analysis background, has extensive experience managing large demanding projects and an excellent track record for getting things completed on time and on budget. She also has excellent operational and human resources management experience and has provided contract senior management support to various organizations moving through change. Ann has provided support in the design and delivery of policy, process and procedure documentation for large to medium sized organization which provided much needed structure to organizations facing change.

Lea Tkatch

Lea has a deep seated love for all animals and is especially passionate about kitties. Over the past two years, she’s fostered more than 35 cats and kittens and also volunteers weekly doing cat care at our Operations Centre. Through her professional life, Lea has extensive experience working as a career  administrator with a focus on office management, executive support, human resources and recruiting, and project and events management.

Lea’s core strengths include being resourceful, detail oriented and diplomatic. She has excellent organizational and leadership abilities that are complimented by a positive attitude, a tireless work ethic and a love of all things feline.

David West

David’s the proud cat dad to three VOKRA kitties and has been volunteering as a foster, driver and receptionist since 2016. David, along with his wife Pat, were named as the VOKRA Volunteers of the Month for December 2017. Prior to his involvement with VOKRA, David spent more than 20 years as a Sail Canada Instructor Evaluator and served on the Learn to Cruise Committee of the Canadian Yachting Association. David also has extensive management experience after spending 15 years as the operations manager for Canada’s largest pleasure craft charter company.

Volunteer of the Month – October 2018

Paul with Spitfire

October’s the month of Thanksgiving and we couldn’t be more thankful for all of our volunteers. Without the hundreds of individuals who give thousands of hours of their time each month, VOKRA, quite simply, wouldn’t exist. One of those volunteer is our Volunteer of the Month October – Paul Breland.

Paul began volunteering with VOKRA in the spring of 2013 and, since that time, he’s fostered 16 litters, including 15 moms and 67 kittens.

Paul started volunteering after being sent a link to a webcam run by a kitten foster for Purrfect Pals in Seattle. After watching him foster a mom and kittens for a while, Paul thought it looked like fun and there was no reason why he couldn’t do it.

“I had been going through my own kind of midlife crisis at the time, wondering what I was doing with my life besides working and playing PC games,” said Paul. “Helping kittens is a way to do something more meaningful with my spare time.”

As a foster of moms plus their kittens, Paul’s main focus is ensuring the kittens grow up to be healthy, friendly and well-trained. If the kittens are around a week old when they arrive, it’s mostly a matter of making sure mom is well-fed and her litter scooped. As the kittens grow, Paul gets them used to being around people and being handled. He watches for any sign of ill health and weighs them frequently to ensure they’re going in the right direction. At around five weeks old Paul helps transition them to eating wet food and using the litterbox. As they near adoption age, he then submits pictures and bios for the website and answers questions when potential adopters come to view them.

“Obviously, my favourite part of volunteering is getting to sit in a room surrounded by kittens!”, said Paul. “But aside from that, the best part is seeing how happy the adopters are when they pick up their new furry friends. Many have left in tears they’re so happy to be adding a new family member (or two or three).”

It’s hard for Paul to pick a favourite story out of so many, but when pressed he said fostering the “Shovel Kittens” is one of the best. “They were discovered on a cold, rainy November day when their mom was trying to shelter them under a shovel leaning against a house,” explains Paul. “When they came into my care, they were really hissy and didn’t like attention at all. But after weeks of socialisation and handling (and a bit of reverse psychology!), they discovered they loved attention and became purring lap kitties.”

It’s even more difficult to pick a favourite kitty out of the 82 he’s fostered so far, but Paul must go with Hurricane and Spitfire, two kittens he just adopted from his most recent litter as company for his 10-year-old girl kitty. Outside of family bias, one kitty who stands out is Dusty, adopted by a couple of Paul’s friends earlier this year. He’s a friendly little black floofball who became a little brother to another VOKRA kitty. He helped fill the void of a departed kitty and has become a huge part of their lives.

“Another one of my favourites is Elle, a dilute torbie who was over-the-top friendly and loved being held,” adds Paul. “She also went to a family who was having some tough times and immediately lifted everyone’s spirits.”

THANK YOU Paul for all the time, effort and love you put into ensuring all the moms and kittens in your care are set up for success! We can’t wait to hear more stories from the next 16 litters!

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’s always in need of volunteers and fosters. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer or vokra.ca/fostering.

2018 AGM on October 18

VOKRA’s 2018 AGM is coming up on October 18 and we’re actively recruiting for two new members to join the board as directors at large.

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.

2018 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 18
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

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

  • Minutes of the Previous AGM, October 19, 2017
  • Presentation: 2018 in Review
  • Treasurer’s Report: 2017 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 2018

With Walk for the Kitties just around the corner, we’re grateful for all our volunteers who make everything we do possible. At VOKRA, we receive no on-going funding so we rely on donations, adoption fees and fundraising initiatives to help us pay the bills. One of the people who works hard each month to raise much needed funds is Debbie O’Connor, our Volunteer of the Month for September. Here Debbie tells us in her own words why she volunteers with VOKRA:
I began volunteering with VOKRA four years ago as part of the gift card fundraising team. Before this time our cat, Kessey, seemed lonely and we decided to look for a friend for him. One of my co-workers recommended VOKRA to us and, after looking through the available cats, we chose Ziggy (originally known as Littlefoot) in June 2014. Ziggy’s been a great companion for Kessey and has brought so much happiness into our lives. We wanted to find a way to “give back”, and I’ve always loved to fundraise at work, so I began to help with the VOKRA gift card program.
My duties with the program include replying to emails from gift card supporters, preparing spreadsheets and submitting the order to our supplier. I also process banking transactions and order cards from other retailers. These duties were made easier because of my work in the finance department with my regular job. When I lived in the Lower Mainland, I would help process the order, mail the cards or have them ready to pick up at the Operations Centre, which was usually done twice a month. Now I’m retired and we live on Vancouver Island so I’m not involved with the physical handling of the cards.
Managing the gift card orders was a challenge in the beginning. In my first month we had the Walk for the Kitties event and I thought it would be a good idea to have a 50/50 draw. I remember Charis and I running around selling tickets and then frantically counting all the money so Karen could announce the winner. Shortly after this was our annual Great Grocery Stock-up promotion which turned out to be incredibly hectic – we had more than 70 orders in a two week period. The end result was a profit of $2500 for VOKRA and each year our profit increased due to the amazing support we receive throughout the year.
It’s rewarding to know I can do something to make a difference. I’m proud to be part of the entire team of VOKRA volunteers. I’ve never met such a dedicated group of people who care so much for our furry friends.

THANK YOU Debbie for all your hard work and dedication to VOKRA! The amount of time and effort you put into helping with the gift card program is truly 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, especially in the summer months. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – August 2018

As a volunteer-driven non-profit, VOKRA wouldn’t exist without our volunteers. Currently we have more than 400 volunteers working hard to ensure the kitties in our care get everything they need and are adopted in loving homes. But how do we find all these volunteers? That’s where our volunteer recruitment team comes in. This month we’re celebrating one of our volunteers who helps us find volunteers – Raj Johal. Here Raj tells us in his own words why he volunteers with VOKRA:

 

At the beginning of university, I wanted to get involved and volunteer to not only get experience but to meet others and make an impact. With me wanting to pursue a career in medicine the first thing that came to mind was a hospital. I started volunteering there but felt I couldn’t contribute towards anything significant or make any sort of meaningful impact. Thus, I started searching again and stumbled upon VOKRA. I had always loved animals so as I got to learn more about what this organization did and how they achieved it I knew it was the right fit and I wanted to be a part of it.

I was also fortunate enough to have gotten the position of recruitment coordinator allowing me to talk to a wide range of individuals. This is undoubtedly my favorite part of being a recruiter as I get to talk to and hear from people of different cultures and backgrounds. I’ve now heard countless stories about how cats or other animals have made a difference in people’s lives which I find to be truly inspiring. All these volunteers and their mutual love of animals and passion for helping is why I believe VOKRA has been able to do such a good job. The fact I get to play a part in introducing them to our organization is instrumental for me and something that always makes me smile.

In terms of my role, I started off as a recruitment coordinator and then in conjunction was also the team lead for over two years. I’ve really enjoyed both roles, as a recruiter I’m responsible for screening volunteer applications which involves interviewing volunteers and ultimately placing them in positions that fill our needs, but most importantly makes them happy. As a team lead, I was responsible for coordinating with other team leads to determine volunteer needs, making and refining volunteer positions along with applications, recruiting volunteers via postings and presentations, and finally ensuring our team was a cohesive unit that worked hard to fill all these gaps.

Over the years, I’ve formed many memories  I believe have shaped me into who I am today. The one that stands out is from last year when Shoaib, one of our recruitment coordinators, and I did a presentation at a senior care home. The purpose of this presentation was to recruit new volunteers. I don’t remember now how many ended up applying but what I do remember is this story of an older lady with her cat. She talked to us at the end about how having her cat was such a huge support network for her when she was severely depressed and without any family or friends. It just goes to show that not only are we helping cats but also indirectly making a positive impact on people. It makes me very proud to be a part of VOKRA when I hear how highly people think of this organization!

I am now volunteering as a recruitment coordinator while Michelle leads this team to hopefully become even better and efficient. However, I have learned a tremendous amount in my time here and met many altruistic individuals. I believe these to be a key part of why I got into medical school and something that I’ll always remember now that I embark on this journey!

THANK YOU Raj for all your hard work and dedication through the years. We’re so proud you’ve succeeded in being accepted into medical school at UBC and have no doubt you’re going to be a fabulous doctor!

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, especially in the summer months. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – June 2018

Glenn CutcheyCan you believe we’re half way through 2018 already?! The days are flying by quickly and summer’s almost here, which means at VOKRA we’ll be busy juggling kittens, cats and fosters as people head off on vacation. But one of the people who never seem to take a vacation is our Volunteer of the Month for June, Glenn Cutchey. Here Glenn tells us in his own words why he volunteers for VOKRA:

 

This is my third year as a volunteer driver for VOKRA. My duties include food and litter deliveries, transporting cats and kittens between the Operations Centre, foster homes and vets, picking up donations and medications, and helping to transport the VOKRA booth to and from special events. Earlier this year I joined the trapping and recovery team after attending co-founder Maria’s trapping course and I’ve also converted a bedroom in my apartment to a foster home for shy and semi-feral kittens after attending co-founder Karen’s cat care course. I’ve just successfully socialized my first batch of three kittens that were trapped earlier this year, finding a forever home for one and the other two went into regular foster care. I made videos of the kittens during their socialization and posted them to YouTube for potential adopters to see and to help educate other people interested in fostering shy and semi-feral kittens. I’m looking forward to working with the next batch and will continue to document the process in hopes it helps other socializers or fosters. Additionally, I’m working on joining the I.T. and database team and the video and photography team. I am always looking for ways to help.

Glennandluci

Glenn with his cat Luci

I’m a veteran and retired computer programmer and I originally joined VOKRA as a meaningful way to keep active and social. I was given a VOKRA flyer, from a friend, 11 years ago when I was wanting a buddy cat for my original resident tabby tom, but I found my Luci and so I didn’t adopt a cat at that time. I did find that flyer again three years ago when I wanted to start volunteering somewhere so I took it as a sign from the universe and applied to volunteer. Since drivers were in most demand, as still is the case today, I eagerly accepted the role and considerate the best use I put my car to.

I really enjoy helping all the wonderful people at VOKRA. I’ve never met such a selfless and caring group of people. From my experience I found many volunteer jobs have a lot of personal politics and attitudes attached to them, but at VOKRA it really is all about the kittens. From the people at Ops to the foster homes, I think everyone is a real hero and am just happy to help them do their good work.

My most memorable experience was early in my driving days, I was sent to recover two semi-feral 10-month-old kittens that became too much for the foster to handle. I was supposed to bring them back to Ops for evaluation, but when I arrived at the foster’s home, they hadn’t managed to get the cats into the carriers so I offered to help. Being new and thinking I had some sort of special talent for communicating with cats, since I’ve had many and they were all wonderful, I thought I could just outsmart them. Was I ever wrong! We got the first one into a carrier but the second one panicked and attacked my hands. My hands got all bit and scratched up and the cat still won. You learn a lot about yourself when you get beaten up by a kitten. From that day forward I always say I am just in training… always in training. Especially now that I have some videos online and people are saying they recognize me from the videos when I introduce myself and they think I am some kind of expert, one lady even called me a cat whisperer, but I just say “no, I’m still in training”

My most moving experience was just this year when I came into the Operations Centre to pick up food and litter for my regular delivery just as four ice cold newborn kittens were rushed in. I just stood in pure awe at the sight of these poor tiny kittens being brought back from the brink of death.

Last year I was at the right place at the right time to rescue a cat in my neighborhood who had been abandoned and was starving and in distress. I called Ops and told them about the situation and they said I could bring the cat in if I could catch it. A few neighbors who were worried about the cat helped me get it into a carrier and I brought it right in. He was so thin and dirty and I thought the cat had given up on itself. The next week I came into Ops and the cat was still there but I hardly recognized him. I even asked if that was the same cat I rescued. He was so clean I asked if they bathed him, but no, he had regained his dignity and cleaned himself up. It was so heartwarming to see him take pride in himself.

Working at VOKRA fulfills my natural desire to help serve my community (a remnant of my military training no doubt). I don’t really have any favorite cats, but my favorite part of my job is coming into Ops and tickling chins. I especially feel honoured when cats tagged with “Caution: Unpredictable” or “Warning: Bites” allow me to give them attention and they don’t live up to their reputation with me.

THANK YOU Glenn for your tireless efforts and dedication to the kitties! Your service is truly 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, especially as we head into the summer months. If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.