We Love All Our Volunteers!

Happy National Volunteer Week! Thank you volunteers! Thank you for your effort, time and talent that you donate to help better the lives of cats in Toronto/GTA and Kitchener-Waterloo. Whether you volunteer once a month, or ten hours a day, you are part of the Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR) family… and you are making a positive change in this world for felines. Below are just some of our amazing, dedicated volunteers!

Amanda Dobbin

Amanda shares: “Two years ago I stumbled upon Toronto Cat Rescue while looking at the fostering option as I wasn’t sure how my grumpy old man of a cat would take to having another fur ball around; from that point forward I was addicted to TCR and everything we do.

I became a Foster Coordinator five months into my TCR journey; it is a super demanding role as I coordinate and manage a number of foster homes, but I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I love my “job”, I love my foster homes, and I love the family that Toronto Cat Rescue has given me. I wake up every morning looking forward to what new challenges the day brings.

I plan to continue with TCR for many, many, many more years to come; not only do I get to cuddle, love, and nurture all the cats my heart desires, but I get to see how good we humans can truly be. Crazy Cat people are Crazy… but I love them!”

Brianne Lee-Kennedy

Brianne’s passion for cats ignited when she fell in love with her husband’s rescue cat, Annabelle, helping her come out of her shell. From there, she met a feral cat
named Billy who inspired her to help make a difference.

A TCR volunteer since 2010, she has worked in a variety of roles for TCR over the years, and for the last seven years, she has maintained her role as TCR’s Volunteer Online Donations Manager where she monitors, reports, and corresponds with online donors via cards and e-mail.

In spite of her busy schedule which includes her newest feline addition, Ashley (pictured here), as well as completing her Master of Divinity degree in Clinical Counselling, Brianne is adamant about continuing to volunteer with TCR. She believes that we each have a responsibility as stewards over the animal kingdom; she also admires how TCR works diligently with other organizations and shelters to maintain their no-kill policy.

Cassandra Koenen

Cassandra shares:” I found out about TCR when I responded to a public plea for foster homes for the RagDoll rescue about four years ago. I had lost my eighteen year girl Molly about eight months earlier and I was ready to let another love into my home. I didn’t end up with a Ragdoll, but instead three wee black and white babies made their way to me. The boys, Ron and Harry, were adopted at a Pet Valu adopt-a-thon, but my girl Hermoine wasn’t quite ready to leave… apparently ever! First fosters, first foster fail! The second round of wees came immediately after and needless to say Hermione and I fell in love with Earl Grey and decided he needed to stay too! Four years later I’m still a foster parent (no more foster fails!), but so much more involved with TCR than I would have imagined when I started.

What has always impressed me, and continues to everyday, is how incredibly well-run and the impact this organization has almost entirely on volunteer power! The dedication of everyone who is involved – no matter what the role – is incredible. That we re-home 2,700 cats every year is so impressive. I am proud to be a part of this team. My role now is predominately Intake; probably the most rewarding and, at times, the most frustrating volunteer work. It is so gratifying to see the proposals of terrified cats from the shelter become happy friendly cats in foster homes and then even better the “happy tails” from their forever homes – it makes it all worth it. I also help out with the Bowl-a-thon and am working with Belinda (TCR’s ED) on some Fundraising and Communications – so keeping busy!

I was asked once why I volunteer for an animal welfare organization, when that’s my day job as well and really the answer is simple – saving cats and meeting so many passionate and hardworking volunteers who have become friends and being a part of something special!”

Heather Davies

Heather shares: “In 2008 I was looking for a feline friend for my cat. Enter Jonesy from TCR. Unfortunately, Pip hated Jonesy. He was too young, too rambunctious. Things went from bad to worse and I was desperate for a solution. Enter Murphy, also from TCR. Jonesy and Murphy have been brothers since I introduced them (see photo). They are delightful and bring me such joy that the seed was planted that got me thinking about how to give back. It took me five years, but I finally applied to be a Foster Home.

When I applied I thought I knew lots about cats. I’d had cats all my life and I’d read plenty about them. Many people I knew came to me for cat advice. The first thing fostering taught me was how much I had to learn. Mostly I learned that rescue cats have very different needs than spoiled, homed cats. Health issues and behavioural issues abound; I felt like a sponge soaking up new information, new experiences. And I loved it! One of my favourite collections of photos now are my “before and after” photos. They come to me scared, sick, damaged, and they leave healthy and ready to love their new people. With some that process takes days and some it takes months.

I’ve performed other roles at TCR as well – Annual Bowl-a-thon committee, adopt-a-thon volunteer, cat caretaker, Foster Coordinator, writer, but my first and true love is fostering. I’ve fostered all ages and I think I’m more successful with health issues than behavioural issues; I like “fixing” things.

In the last six years I’ve fostered 169 fosters, including temporary placements on their way to other foster homes and covering for other foster parents vacations. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on things there’s a new issue to be learned and dealt with! I have yet to “foster fail” though I came very close with one little kitten (Hamish, the one that got away, has his own amazing story for another time!).

Kim O’Brien

Kim shares: “I have always had a love of animaIs and have volunteered with animal organizations for over twenty years. I have been a volunteer with Toronto Cat Rescue since early 2016. I started with TCR as a volunteer driver and foster home. I chose TCR to volunteer with as I had friends who volunteered for them who had nothing but great things to say about TCR.

Since I started with TCR, my family has fostered over 200 cats/kittens. I have also taken on other volunteer roles within the organization such as an event screener, adoption counsellor and store coordinator. I choose to continue to volunteer with TCR as I feel like a valued and appreciated member of the team and want to continue to make a difference for all the cats we help.”.H

Julie Hayley

Julie shares: “My name is Julie, I live in Guelph. My role with TCR started four or five years ago. I was a feral trapper helping many colony caretakers trap cats and get them fixed when I was connected with TCR. TCR was amazing with helping get the feral cats into a Trap-Neuter-Return program and helping find all of the friendlies good homes.

I have been volunteering with TCR ever since in many different roles, such as foster home, driver, trapper, medical support, donation distributor, adopt-a-thon screener and socializer. Recently I approached the Guelph Petsmart and Pet Valu stores to see if they would be willing to also partner with TCR to help get cats adopted. So, now I help run these stores!

The network of fosters and volunteers we have in the KW area are amazing. We work so well together as a team and I am honoured to be able to work with everyone. We have such a wide range of skills and talents; and everyone is so welcoming and eager to share knowledge. I have learned so much. We truly do rock as a team!”

Carrie Faulkner

Carrie shares: “I honestly have no idea how long I’ve been with TCR; it feels like a piece of my soul and will forever be a part of me.

My roles vary from foster home, adoption counsellor, event volunteer, socializer, trapper, colony caretaker, and finally driver. I also assist stores in the KW area with TCR cats, laundry, adoptions and troubleshooting.

Feeling the love and support of being a member of such an amazing team is incredible. Knowing I can make the difference between life and death for a feline is the most rewarding experience in life. Seeing that terrified cat hissing in the corner become a happy confident purring cat sitting in your lap ready to join a family of their very own – there’s nothing like it!!”.

Kerstin Hutchinson

Kerstin shares: “Hi I’m Kerstin. I’ve been with TCR for two and a half years; first as a cat care volunteer and now as the Store Coordinator for PetSmart: Cambridge. I also manage the social media for specifically the Cambridge store as my background is in digital marketing (like the page to stay up-to-date, see adorable cats, and support our efforts: TCR Pet Smart Cambridge!). I still have my weekly cat care shift at the store, and also drive adoptable cats to the store when needed to make sure we have kitties to adopt in-store.

I love volunteering with TCR because it’s amazing to see people who love cats as much as I do and all the good we all do for them, and it gets me out of the house (I work from home).

My family sometimes helps me out as we all love cats, but it usually comes at the price of my daughter wanting to adopt another cat (that’s how we got Waffles, now named Boo). We have five of our own cats ranging from two years old to fifteen years old. I also love to crochet in my free time, so you will often see my lopsided handy work at the store.”.

Robert Peacock

Robert shares: “After I moved to Toronto in 2014 I read about a cat hoarding situation in Quebec and the Toronto-based rescue organization that was stepping up to help them. Rescuing and fostering cats is something my mom did all through my teens and twenties, so I decided to follow in the family’s footsteps. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say. At first I was only fostering adult cats, but then came the bottle-feeder kittens, and the emergency last-minute drives to shelters around the city. These days my partner and I still foster, I do drives, I help coordinate in-store adoption events, and I run all manner of odd jobs and secret missions (having a minivan really helps!). It’s a lot to stay on top of, but it’s worth it.

Volunteering with Toronto Cat Rescue is a rewarding experience. Not only do you get to save lives right in your own postal code, but given TCR’s reach, resources, and expertise, you get to help save them in nearby (and not-so-nearby) cities and towns as well. On top of that, you get to be a part of a really great community of like-minded volunteers who help celebrate one another’s successes and share the burden of one another’s losses.”.

Todd Burgess

Todd shares: “I have been with Toronto Cat Rescue for over 6 years. I am currently a lead volunteer with TCR. One of my primary duties include being a care team lead to provide advice to foster coordinators and foster homes regarding the care of cats in the TCR program. My other primary duty is I serve as store coordinator for the PetSmart – Kennedy Commons adoption centre. I have also served as an adopt-a-thon manager and have covered numerous adopt-a-thons at our pet store partners, pop up kitten cafes and mega adopt-a-thons. I have fostered numerous cats and adopted two of them named Kenny and Spencer. I volunteer with TCR because I feel it is a great way to give back to the community by providing care to cats and those who care for them.”

Delaney Greig and Adam Clare

They shares: “Whenever our friends went travelling we were the go-to cat sitters. We welcomed all sorts of cats into our homes; and then one day we found out about TCR and decided to commit to caring for cute little furballs more regularly.

As fosters we have the pleasure of getting to know the unique personalities of each cat that passes through our house. We enjoy providing them a peaceful transition home for cats who are waiting for their forever home. Fifteen foster cats later we still love helping cats get from one stage of their life to another.

When one foster cat, Dave, entered our lives we decided to adopt him since he was so charming… and thankfully he gets along with all these other cats too.”.

Nairn Carter

Nairn shares: “I first started volunteering with TCR in August of 2015 as a foster parent. I then became an adoption screener to help out at adopt-a-thons. Then came another volunteer opportunity which I jumped at: the potential foster home screener; this role is vital to recruit new volunteers. I love this role as I am the first point of contact for these potential foster hopefuls; the “voice of TCR” if you will. I make contact with them via email to set up a time to chat about what to expect while fostering. I am the only foster screener in the KW area.

This summer I’m hoping that I can become a volunteer driver for TCR as we are in very desperate need of them; shuttling cats to the vet, to another foster home, or to one of our lovely pet store partners.

Many may wonder and marvel why I spend so much time and energy on volunteer roles at TCR, and to this I simply say… because I can! Because I have the time, the energy, the love, compassion and patience (to name a few!) to carry on and carry forward the message of ‘rescuing and finding homes for abandoned, sick or injured cats from situations of abuse, neglect or imminent euthanasia until there is no longer a need for TCR and organizations like it.'”.

Tara Zachariah

Tara shares: “I first joined TCR as a foster parent in 2009. My friend had left her cat with me while she was traveling, and when she took her back, I realized that I liked having a cat in the house, even though I wasn’t sure I’d want one forever. Fostering seemed like the ideal compromise.

My first foster was Megan, who’d been rescued as a pregnant stray. Her kittens had all been adopted out, but she still had health issues and needed a home where she was the only cat. I expected she’d only be with me for a few months, but she had surgery that summer, and then she needed to recover, so by the time someone inquired about adopting her, she’d been with me for nearly nine months and by that point, she was pretty much my cat. (I officially adopted her and she’s still with me, ten years on.)

I fostered sporadically over the next few years – Megs still doesn’t like other cats, but when she’s in better health, she can tolerate them. I also joined the foster screening team; I like talking with people who are considering fostering, since it’s been such a positive experience for me. I started helping with the adoption events team when TCR started holding adopt-a-thons at the Pet Valu near me – another opportunity to talk up TCR and the cats we care for!

I’m currently the foster screening team lead, and I still help out at adopt-a-thons, but I don’t actively foster anymore. My current place is too small to keep my cat separated from the fosters, and as she’s aged, her health has declined, so I don’t like putting her through it. I’m still very enthusiastic about TCR and about the work we do and I often find myself talking up fostering to people who love animals but can’t live with them long-term – it’s such a great way to get a cat into your life!”

Holly Comfort

Holly said she’s too busy to write a profile. Two litters, plus more cats, vet visits, store monitoring and cleaning, intake and preparing for a CH cat = no free time. But she wouldn’t have it any other way. Holly loves her volunteer work and TCR is grateful for her dedication to the cause.

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