It’s called “helper’s high,” that exhilarating feeling volunteers get when they realize they’ve made a difference. It’s a sensation shelter volunteers feel deep in their hearts every time they watch a frightened dog or cat gain confidence and get ready to fly. And with April being Volunteer Appreciation Month, I think it’s the perfect time to celebrate what it means to “get high” on volunteering…and changing a homeless animal’s life forever.
I cannot begin to count the thousands of glorious “highs” I’ve experienced as a volunteer — rescuing, fostering, and finding homes for cats and kittens of all kinds — helping them heal, grow strong and confident, and become the best felines they can be.
Each rescue is powerful and life-affirming, but some really stand out. For instance, I will always cherish this image of sweet foster Delores (left) basking in the sunshine that pours into her room. This gentle soul was born a perfect kitten, then handed over to a life of misery about 14 years ago. She spent those years living a dark life in a dirty bodega in New York City. A huge-hearted customer was aware of Delores and pleaded with the owner to let her take her to a vet. Well, Delores will never go back to that life. She’s safe with me now thanks to the wonderful woman who helped her and then reached out to me.
X-rays, bloodwork, and a complete checkup show that Delores is not well. She was not fed properly all those years…and was never spayed! (She is now!) She has severe abnormalities in her internal organs, most likely from multiple traumas. From the second she arrived, she’s been clinging to us, just wanting to be touched and loved for the first time. She devours her healthy wet and dry food and has not one mean bone in her frail little body. Just after Delores came to me, the bodega got a new kitten who is petrified and hiding. I don’t know how to stop this ugly cycle, but at least Delores is safe, and she is the perfect reason I volunteer.
Just after Delores came to me, the bodega got a young cat who was petrified and hiding. Well, thanks to a lot of collective effort, that kitty is now in my home and his name is Kiwi. He’s just two years old and is super sweet and likes other cats. The bodega owner has promised us no more cats, and we will be checking often. Delores and Kiwi embody all the reasons I volunteer.