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.

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.

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.