Everyone can help!
A few months ago I was contacted by a 12-year-old student from a local middle school. She and three of her classmates were interested in doing a weekend of service at the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL) as a project for their English class.
That presented a challenge for us.
We are not able to accept a single day or weekend of service. We require all volunteers to commit to eight hours per month for at least six months. We ask for this commitment in order to keep our animals and volunteers safe. Shelter animals are stressed, they aren’t like your companion animals at home. By giving 8 hours a month, volunteers develop skills in animal handling and reading their body language. The animals thrive on the consistency and routine of familiar, well trained volunteers.
I explained this to the young student and suggested that she and her classmates organize a fundraiser or food drive or even a blanket-and-towel drive for our animal residents. They were up for the challenge.
A few weeks later they held a bake sale and set up a lemonade stand at Bradley Hills Park on a busy Saturday. The youngsters baked cookies and brownies and made fresh-squeezed lemonade to offer park patrons. And thanks to their culinary skills—and commitment–they raised $145 for the Washington Animal Rescue League!
The students came by one afternoon to present the funds that they raised and were treated to a tour of the shelter and medical center. They also got to meet, and interact with, the dogs and cats who will benefit directly from their efforts.
As volunteer manager at WARL I am often contacted by people who want to volunteer but can’t commit to the time requirement. I try to use this opportunity to educate these caring individuals about the many ways they can make a difference:
- A towel-and-blanket drive at school or the office will provide our animals with a cozy spot to relax.
- A food drive for unopened canned or dry food for our Rescuer’s Food Bank helps District residents, who have hit hard times, keep their families together by supplying them food for their companion animals.
- A collection of dog and cat toys will give our shelter residents hours of enrichment and play therapy as they wait to meet their new families.
We also have multiple funds set up if you would like to raise money for a specific need such as disaster relief or senior, special-needs, or seriously sick or injured animals; we even have a fund for neonatal kittens. And if a particular cat or dog catches your eye on our website or while visiting us, you can sponsor that animal’s stay with us!
The bottom line is that whether or not you can make the time commitment required to become an official volunteer at the Washington Animal Rescue League, you CAN have a huge impact on the lives of the animals who spend time with us on their way to their “happily ever afters.”
We’re very proud of this 12 year old and her dedication to helping us here at the League!
Lisa Stemcosky is Washington Animal Rescue League’s Volunteer Manager and a Certified Dog Trainer. Lisa manages more than 100 generous volunteers that are crucial to the success of the League.