This entry touches on something I posted on Facebook the other day. Given that I've been working for a heavily volunteer dependent non-profit, I started to think a lot about volunteering. I really got thinking about the different sides of it. The way people treat volunteers and the expectations people have of volunteers.
I was updating a spreadsheet that is a list of the adoptions for the year. There were over 600 entries. That is over 600 animals who have been saved. Mostly cats and dogs are on the list, but who can forget the pigs, chickens, homing pigeons, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits, and more that I'm certainly forgetting. Then, it got me thinking about what is involved in getting those numbers on that spreadsheet. Yes, obviously my typing get them in the spreadsheet, duh. I'm talking in the broader sense.
I'm sure I will forget things because, well, me. The list below includes the work of a handful, like toddler sized handful, of paid staff and volunteers. Just pointing out that I'm fully aware of actual paid staff.
- There's transport: driving a box truck to rescue animals from other states; the hours to do this; the wear and tear on the truck; the listening to whining and mewing; the smell of piss and shit and animals; the cleaning of the truck
- There's maintenance: the truck; the house we work out of; yard work; repairs; building a pig pen and chicken coops
- Receiving transport: corralling all the dogs in the backyard; taking cats in kennels down to the care center; vetting the animals (vaccinations, preventative care, microchipping, and anything else they need based on paperwork); oh, and doing all of our own paperwork
- Fostering: coming to a transport arrival to pick up the dog they are fostering; taking them to vet appointments; keeping them until they decided to adopt them or until they get adopted; taking them to meet & greets that hopefully end in adoption, but not always, so they have extra wear and tear and gas for their cars; sometimes bottle feeding if they take on the tiny cats or dogs
- Cat Care Center: cats are housed in our office building until ready for adoption at a PetSmart or the Denver Cat Company; I could go downstairs but I'm lazy so I'm guessing we have 30ish cat cages; the cages house multiple cats if there is a litter of kittens; there are 2 shifts of cleaning out the cages and feeding the cats; sometimes there is the additional task of steaming the cages; there's medication to be given sometimes; their an isolation room of cages when things like ringworm breakout; cleaning kennels; and cleaning litter pans; laundry from blankets and towels; washing food and water bowls
- There's office work of various types. That's my "specialty". Things like spreadsheet updating; microchip registration; adoption packet creation
- There are adoption events: they involve fosters bringing the available dogs; means more travelling; leash holding; people selling our merchandise; on the spot adoption application processing; the "go home" paperwork review and fee payment; putting up and taking down our fences and tents and tables and such
- Adoptions that aren't at an event: reviewing of applications; processing of applications which means phone calls for landlords & vets, sometimes, and personal references all the time; scheduling of meet and greets to finalize the adoption, or sometimes to have the adoption fail; the meeting needs to have the adopter, the foster, and the volunteer or staffer who will finalize the adoption, yeah, try coordinating all those schedules; more travelling for the foster
These are all the things I could think of off the top of my head. These are all things people do in their spare time. So, if it seems like a lot, I'm pretty sure there is much more. But, it is what goes into those 600 plus adoptions.
- Other fund raisers: all kinds of work that I've never really been a part of, but I'm sure lots of volunteers are involved
After all of my thinking about volunteerism and Homer Simpson's profound wisdom, I thought about volunteers being people who do favors, lots and lots of favors.
If you need something from a volunteer, be kind, be patient, and be appreciative.