Organization: 9 Lives Rescue
Volunteer Service: Since 2018
What is the mission of 9 Lives Rescue?
9 Lives Rescue is a small, foster-based cat rescue serving south central Wisconsin. We look to fill the gap for homeless, unwanted and abused cats and kittens by rehabilitating them and finding their right forever homes.
How did you get involved with this organization?
I started as a foster, caring for cats and kittens in my home until they could be adopted. But, as time went on, I started to get more involved because I felt passionate about their work.
In what ways do you volunteer with them?
I now serve as the organization’s Vice President. I’m responsible for day-to-day operations; managing medical appointments and care for the animals; and accepting, capturing and transporting new intakes, among other duties. I still foster animals, primarily focused on taking in those that require extra care.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering for 9 Lives Rescue?
Overall, I chose something I am passionate about. To be able to help an animal that otherwise wouldn’t have survived, provide them care, and find them a loving home is the most rewarding feeling. My administration work is also rewarding because any time spent with the organization is time spent saving lives. Last year alone we were able rescue more than 500 cats.
How has the pandemic affected your organization?
Last year we got an overwhelming number of applications—about tenfold—and we didn’t have any extra volunteers, so we were working hard to screen and accept all of them. We also got a lot of intake requests because shelters cut down on their intakes, also due to a lack of volunteers.
Do you have any memorable experiences you can share?
I have a lot of memorable experiences from working with the animals. Last year, we helped spay/neuter and relocate 50 cats from a property, which is a big project for a rescue to take on. It took several months to trap, rehabilitate and adopt the cats to new homes, but it was worth it in the end knowing we have given them better lives.
Do you feel volunteering has changed you as a person?
Since working with the rescue, I feel like my time has a purpose. What I do is meaningful for the animals, the adopting families and the community. I have realized I have the power to control my impact through action.
What have you learned about your community?
I have learned that there is a huge need for education and resources related to animal care and overbreeding. Some families are unable to or choose not to get their pets spayed or neutered and end up with too many to care for. That is why 9 Lives’ work to Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) feral cats is so important.
Why is it important to give back to the communities we serve?
Personally, I feel it provides meaning to our lives. Volunteering is also very eye opening—we might not realize the amount of need out there until we get involved. Once you see the need it may inspire you to keep giving your time to improve the community.
What advice would you give other colleagues looking to start volunteering?
Think about the things you are passionate about and search for organizations that match your interests. Start small with your involvement. If you really find something you’re passionate about, it will no longer feel like work—just something you look forward to doing. I spend all of my personal time with the rescue and it has just become a lifestyle.
What other message would you like to share with colleagues?
I know that I can’t change the world, but I can change the world for the animals I rescue. The same is true for any volunteer activity. Your work might change someone’s life.