Volunteer of the Month – September 2017

With Walk for the Kitties coming up, we’re grateful for all our volunteers who make everything we do possible. This September, we’d like to celebrate Ellen Runnalls as our Volunteer of the Month!

Ellen’s been volunteering with VOKRA for almost six years. Time flies when it’s spent hanging out with cats! She mostly helps enter the cats’ bios and puts them up on the website. However, she’s taken on various other tasks in her “nine lives” as a volunteer that make it all a joyful experience. Volunteering is a great way to meet cats without having to take them all home… unless you do.

Some of Ellen’s favourite things about volunteering include meeting all the cats and getting to know their unique personalities (especially the shy ones); spending time with feral and semi-feral cats to watch them gain confidence while also earning their trust; and meeting the real cat ladies of this world who are all so dedicated and amazing, and without whom so many cats would never get a chance at a happy life.

Ellen dishes on her favourite memories and kitties she’s met:

“One of my favourite memories is a feral kitten “search and rescue” in an East Van backyard with (VOKRA co-founder) Maria, and another is holding a garage sale with Yana,” said Ellen. “I love being able to advocate for black cats whenever possible as they’re some of the sweetest cats around. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite cat, but it’s safe to say that aside from all the black kitties I’ve met, every tortoiseshell has stolen my heart.”

Without Ellen, nobody would be able to read up on all our available kittens and cats on our site! She’s an integral part of VOKRA and we’re so happy to have a dedicated volunteer like Ellen on board.

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% 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 – July 2017

Dania with one of her kitties, Mouse

On the heels of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, we’d like to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month for July, Dania Sheldon!

Dania discovered VOKRA when she rescued a cat who had been abandoned in a burning apartment; the humans had an illegal grow-op and left her there when an electrical fire started. She thought the cat might like company, so she looked online for options. It seemed to her VOKRA was a good fit as the foster system seemed a much better approach to cats’ welfare than the shelter model. Dania also had previous experience of caring for unweaned orphaned kittens. She has been volunteering with VOKRA since 2005, when she adopted her first three bottle-feeders who had been discovered in a bag in a dumpster.

With Maximus and Thumbelina

Before moving to Gabriola Island, Dania was involved in the day-to-day running of VOKRA as the operations manager. She was in charge of many tasks, such as cat care, bringing kitties to new foster homes, picking up and delivering supplies, fundraising and developing publications such as our Mewsletter and annual VOKRA calendar. Since moving to Gabriola, she’s continued with the calendar through to the 2017 issue, along with facilitating and coordinating the adoptions of VOKRA cats who require safe indoor/outdoor homes that can be found on Gabriola. Dania also represents VOKRA on the Rescue Roundtable, which is a coalition of no-kill rescue groups in  southern BC, sharing education, experience and contacts to achieve the best possible outcomes for animals in need.

“My favourite part of volunteering is spending one-on-one time with cats, particularly those who are shy, frightened, semi-feral or otherwise in need of particular consideration and care,” says Dania. “There is nothing more absorbing, for me, than being entirely focused upon another being and trying to provide whatever will soothe their anxiety. If this means sitting in a room for hours at a time, pretending not to notice a cat while s/he assesses me, I’m up for it. What’s more amazing than the feeling you experience when a once terrified, wary cat decides to trust you? Nothing. That’s the best.”

We’re grateful for all the hard work Dania has put into volunteering with our organization for the past 12 years. She’s helped VOKRA grow and improved the lives of countless kittens and cats. A favourite story that has stuck with her is told below by Dania:

“A little male tabby kitten had been born with his rear left leg significantly shorter than the others. He required ongoing physio, as he also had some spinal deformity either due to or concurrent with the stunted limb. Given his need for indefinite specialized care, it could have been difficult to find him a home, but a family in which the parents were physios heard about him and were interested. As it happened, their boy had a similar condition with one of his legs. His name was Keegan, and he fell in love with this kitten, whom he named Keegan. VOKRA received a note from the mum, who said that this little cat had completely transformed her son’s life; his whole demeanour had changed now that he’d found his buddy, whom he talked to and hung out with all the time and kept up to date on daily events.”

With Lua, a kitty who survived a spinal cord injury. Dania’s written a book about Lua and you can learn all about it here

We thank Dania for helping with the rescue and rehabilitation of cats for the past 12 years and we’re sure the kitties she has saved thank her too.

“There would be no VOKRA if Dania had not stuck with me in my basement in 2005,” say Karen Duncan, co-founder of VOKRA. “We were pretty well done, overwhelmed by the numbers coming in. It was only through her determination and ability to get things sorted and written that we were able to pull through. We were sure we pulled it off with our wonderful glass magic wands which we zipped out every time we ran into a new impossible problem, waving them with desperate hope to find answers. We shared so many tears and much hysterical laughter over this time, and have been great friends ever since.”

Karen sums up our gratitude to Dania pretty well, so we just want to acknowledge and give thanks for every single ounce of work Dania has put into this organization. You have helped VOKRA take off and we couldn’t be happier to have you on our team!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% 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 – June 2017

Frankie

With the sun shining (sort of), our volunteers are looking forward to a busy June as we head straight into kitten season! We appreciate how hard our volunteers work to ensure each kitty lives the best life they can, and this month we’d like to celebrate Yana Sabanskis, our Volunteer of the Month!

Yana became involved with VOKRA around eight years ago when she worked at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. There, she was familiarized with the faces of VOKRA – Karen and Maria – through their regular visits to restock supplies. She took the opportunity to understand our non-profit organization and the way we work to continuously provide the best care for kitties. Yana helped out with recycling and other odds and ends and, when our new Operations Centre opened in 2015, she continued recycling twice a week. Along with helping out at our Centre, Yana adopted from VOKRA and also fostered several cats, in which she has made strong, yet adorable memories with.

“The first kitty I adopted from VOKRA was Sammi, an 11-year old pure bred Chocolate Himalayan,” explains Yana. “He adapted very quickly to my other cat, Molly, who I had found in an alley in the West End. After Molly suddenly died, I was asked if I could possibly foster a semi-feral 2-year old. I was up to the task and took on Tommy. He really was a challenge, living in the bathroom for about a month. I slowly introduced him to Sammi by taking food and Sammi into the bathroom and leaving them together. Sammi was very docile and performed a miracle so, about a week later, Tommy followed Sammi out of the bathroom and stayed with him wherever he went!”

After Sammi passed away, Yana took in little Paula, a geriatric kitty found in an alley in the Downtown Eastside. “She was an absolute joy to welcome in our home,” said Yana. “She slept on my shoulder and only ever wanted to be loved. She was with us for almost six months before she fell asleep one night and didn’t wake again.”

The next cat that came into their home was Frankie, an 18-year old geriatric kitty who came in from the cold and needed a home. “He joined us for two years until he died,” remembers Yana. “He was so grateful to be inside and insisted on sleeping in my lap, on my shoulder or on my head. He was a large cat and would not compromise his needs, so I accepted him doing whatever he wanted.”

Yana goes on to say, “When Frankie passed away, Tommy decided I was his new pet and we’re now bonded, so much so that he sleeps on me at night! During the day he is elusive, but at night he is a cuddle monster!”

Yana has helped VOKRA in so many ways and her connection with all the furballs she cares for is one we admire. We can’t thank her enough and are happy and appreciative to have such a wonderful, kind-hearted person in our organization. You’re the best, Yana!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% 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 – May 2017

April showers bring May flowers…right? While it has been a rainy April we’re sure hoping for the sun to shine for everyone in May! But at VOKRA we’re lucky because we get sunshine everyday from all our lovely volunteers and it’s time to celebrate our Volunteer of the Month – Marlene Smith!

Marlene has always been a cat lover, having been involved with several cat rescue organizations. She joined the VOKRA volunteer team more than four years ago at an adoption event. She fostered a few cats here and there for a couple months, but decided not to continue due to her resident cats being less than amused by the lack of attention they were receiving. However, over the years she’s picked up short-term fostering again until longer term fosters can be found in Surrey or Vancouver.

Working from home, Marlene takes on many tasks at VOKRA. She enters health and medical information of kitties into our database, handles calendar distribution in Surrey and organizes community and fundraising events. As well, Marlene assists with the collection of donations, preparing tax receipts and documenting payments for online auctions. The volunteering doesn’t stop there! Marlene has also administrated and reported on two spay/neuter grants for VOKRA in Surrey.

“It was a learning experience and brought me in contact with people from many walks of life,” says Marlene. “This involved speaking with cat owners, setting up vet appointments and driving to and from vets to meet surgery times when an owner didn’t have transportation. In addition, I was trying to find carriers, washing carriers and delivering carriers for transport to and from the vet.”

Marlene truly is a hard worker, helping with emergency pick-ups and driving calls for injured cats or kittens that need a fast trip to the vet or our Operations Centre – no speeding tickets so far! She also prepares adoption papers in Surrey and meets with adopters. It’s a great way to meet people and share the information VOKRA provides during the adoption process.

Marlene is happy to volunteer with VOKRA, along with all the great volunteers who are associated with our organization. We too are over the moon to have Marlene as one of our volunteers. So, this month, we’re celebrating Marlene Smith as our wonderful Volunteer of the Month! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to VOKRA!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% 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.

Come run with us on June 25!

On June 25, 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.

Kitties like Tortilla. After her owner passed away the person she ended up with wanted to have her euthanized. Thankfully the vet refused and we were called to take her in. Tortilla’s around 15 years old and when she arrived at our Operations Centre she was covered in fleas and lice and needed a medical check-up to investigate a lump on her chest (which thankfully turned out to be nothing). Without VOKRA Tortilla would be dead.

Today Tortilla is recovering from her ordeal in foster care and will soon be looking for her new forever home. Unfortunately Tortilla’s story is not uncommon and kitties like her wouldn’t be saved without the help of everyone at VOKRA and donors like you.

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 PIN codes:

Half-Marathon discount code: 17VOKRA21K
5K discount code: 17VOKRA5K

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!

Volunteer of the Month – March 2017

We’ve zipped through the first two months of 2017 with great success in saving kitties, and we only plan to rescue more this month, but not without first thanking our Volunteer of the Month, Nina Maravic!

Nina began her role at VOKRA nearly two years ago, shortly after she adopted her two cats. In her first year, she took on the role of a volunteer recruitment coordinator. She wanted to become even more involved with the organization and so began her transition into planning events.

As an event planner at VOKRA, Nina works hard to make sure the events we participate in run smoothly. The first event Nina planned was the online Christmas Craft Fair in 2015 and included items from creative volunteers and local shops. Nina also organizes information booths at pet food stores, community events and pet conventions. Some large-scale events include the Pride Festival and Canada Day, which are great opportunities to raise awareness for VOKRA and kitties in need. In addition, Nina manages school visits where kittens are brought into classrooms and students learn about cat welfare and VOKRA.

“My favourite part of volunteering is planning outreach events that positively impact the community,” said Nina. “I recently worked with SFU on their first Kitten Therapy initiative (ours as well!), which got a lot of media attention and positive feedback from the students. I also love the teamwork that goes into all aspects of volunteering with VOKRA, whether it be the planning, trapping, fostering or any other job. It’s amazing that such a large group of individuals can come together for a common goal.”

We really appreciate Nina’s hard work and dedication to VOKRA

“Nina is an exceptionally hard worker and very curious about all the different volunteer areas within VOKRA,” says fellow volunteer Valerie. “She stepped in and did a wonderful job with the recruitment team before she moved onto the volunteer committee and off to join the fundraising committee. Her skills in setting up events, including all the preparation and organization required, is exceptional. She has introduced a team to handle school presentations which is very popular and a wonderful tool to educate younger people. She’s a very busy volunteer with fresh and new ideas and is a great asset to the VOKRA team!”

Once again, Nina plays such an important role within our organization and we wouldn’t know what to do without her. Thank you, Nina!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% 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 – February 2017

peggy-sullivanIt’s the month of love and we have all the love to give for our volunteers. This February, we’re giving our biggest thanks to Volunteer of the Month Peggy Sullivan!

Peggy joined the VOKRA team seven years ago when her friend invited her to volunteer. As a busy individual, she always told herself she would work with animals in some way when she found time. As the adoptions team lead, Peggy’s in charge of training adoption counsellors and ensuring VOKRA’s kitties are going to the best forever homes available. She oversees the processes of matching kitties to applicants and making sure the adoptions team works together to make both the kitty and the adopter happy.

“I work with amazing people at the VOKRA family and have never worked with such a dedicated, unselfish group of people before,” says Peggy. “I have a team of ten members who I’m so proud of. They work tirelessly, they are excellent team players and they’re incredibly dedicated to the cause. We adopted out about 1,400 cats and kittens last year and we’re working harder to beat that number this year.”

The best part of being the adoptions team lead for Peggy is to see how each and every adopter is so committed to the kitties and that the team gets to find furever homes for the kitties that come into VOKRA’s care.

We truly appreciate all the work Peggy puts into this organization because, without her dedication and hard work, the process of adoptions wouldn’t run like clockwork! We thank you Peggy for all the time and effort you put in to make the lives of VOKRA kitties better, one at a time. You’re the best!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% 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.