Volunteer Appreciation Month 2012 - Week 2

Volunteers are lifesavers
We could not do the important work of this organization without our volunteers. This month is dedicated to making all 1200 active volunteers feel appreciated for all they do. Every week this month we highlight some of the inspirational activities of our amazing volunteers from across the organization.

1) Toni Sestak
ToniIt’s hard to even begin to recognize Toni for all the amazing work she does for cats. She has saved countless kittens through her kitten rescue group and is a constant figure at both Animal Care and Control as well as at the SF SPCA. As a member of the feral cat team Toni has been invaluable in being a tie between our program and ACC. She is always the first to let us know when there is a feral mom with kittens at ACC (usually brought in by Rocky!) and, along with her group of volunteers, works tirelessly to socialize cats at the city shelter, preventing them from being put back outside. We have Toni on speed dial and know she will always be there to facilitate transfers of feral cats from ACC as well as notifying us on cats that need our help or cats that she was able to socialize. Toni is the perfect example of multiple organizations working together to save as many cats as possible.

2) Diane DeForest
DianeDiane DeForest has been a volunteer for 7 years. Not only has she acquired cat behavior knowledge that is respected by all staff, she is kind enough to offer her notes every single week so that we may have an extra set of eyes on some of our target cats we don’t always get to spend as much time with as we may like. Thriving on a challenge, Diane takes on the most complex cats without reservation. In addition to her contribution in the world of cat behavior, she also contributes to their environment and enrichment. She makes the pom-poms you see being used on our behavior cats and also was a large contributor to the condo remake donating many props that she not only searched out, but purchased with her own money.

3) Steve Pegors
SteveSteve started fostering in 2009 with his daughter, Mika. After Mika left for school, Steve continued fostering and began taking in more and more challenging cases. He is always ready to take in whoever needs help; whether it’s a kitten with pneumonia or a puppy with a blood disorder. He fosters animals back-to-back all season long, and when he’s not caring for his foster babies, he’s here helping in the shelter. He is a volunteer mentor, shelter medical volunteer, dog walker, foster parent…Steve does it all!

4) Linda Messitt with Oliver
Linda Messitt with OliverLinda spoils Oliver, but it’s hard not to when he does such a good job on AAT visits, in Puppy Dog Tales (PDT) *and* in Mastery, Empathy and Social Conscience through AAT (MESCAAT)! Our newest “staff dog” of sorts spends Tuesdays in the AAT offices so that he can work with the MESCAAT kids. Then, when Linda’s done with her own workday, they head out to Ernest Ingold Boys & Girls Club for their PDT assignment. To top it off, each weekend they visit Vintage Golden Gate, where Oliver gets belly rubs and gives high-fives. Hooray for Linda and Oliver!

5) Adriana Nottestad
AdrianaThere are volunteers who've been with the San Francisco SPCA for years, so that it's impossible to imagine the place without them. Then, there are volunteers like Adriana Nottestad, who though she has only been a volunteer since November 2011, still it's hard to imagine the place without her. To start, it seems like she is everywhere, beginning the day with puppies, moving on to the dogs at Maddie's, and ending up with the lonely newcomers in shelter medicine. Along the way, there are field trips and play groups and training sessions and naps with canine friends. (Adriana soothes, and the dogs nap.) But wait. There's more. Adriana prepares food and feeds the dogs. She assists with public classes. She helps with intake trips. She supports, and coaches, and teaches new volunteers. And she's done those things for more than 600 volunteer hours. Add up all the different things that Adriana has done as a volunteer. Multiply Adriana by 400. That's the dog volunteer program at the San Francisco SPCA.

6) Rod Kilpatrick
RodThere are quite a few wonderful volunteers who contribute to photos, Wendy and Spenser being among the list, but pixel for pixel Rod is putting out more feline marketing material per pound than any volunteer west of the Mississippi. He catches the shy ones gazing off wistfully at Sports Basement and makes adopters wonder what is on this complex kitties mind. He snaps the confident ones strutting their stuff ands shows the world the lion that is waiting behind that door. He captures the dignity and wisdom of a senior and it becomes irresistible not to meet this sophisticated feline. He put Clowey in heels and pearls, and she packed her stilettos for greener pastures just two days later. The felines of the SFSPCA are lucky to have a talent like Rod always ready put their best paw forward on their behalf.

7) Judy Miller
JudyJudy Miller has been a committed volunteer for over a decade, spending most of her time in the Sunnydale housing project, and the surrounding Visitation Valley neighborhood. For years, this area was known for high numbers of kittens being surrendered to San Francisco’s shelter system. unspayed cats produced countless litters year after year. Judy is a bit of a celebrity in this community – residents know her by name, and rely on her for assistance caring for the hundreds of feral cats living there. Because of Judy’s focused efforts, Sunnydale boats overwhelming success for feral management in San Francisco. In 2011 alone, Judy trapped over 300 cats and brought them in for surgery and medical care in our clinic. Kitten populations from Sunnydale are way down, proving her hard work is paying off. Fewer kittens in the shelter, more cared for cats in the neighborhood.

Because of the trust she has built, Judy has become the go-to gal for all the residents’ pet related inquires. She’s helped transport owned pets to the SF SPCA hospital for care, and educated countless pet guardians on the benefits of spaying and neutering, resulting in a staggering rise in spay neuter surgeries from Sunnydale. The Community Cats Program hotline has become a part time answering service for Judy; the staff fields calls requesting Judy’s assistance several times a month.

Judy represents the Community Cares Initiative to a tee. She’s created inroads to historically underserved, overlooked communities, developing lasting, trusting relationships with pet guardians there.