My Volunteer Journey
In the mid-80s, I returned to Ottawa after university and teaching. My new apartment was near the old Ottawa Humane Society (101 Champagne Avenue South). I registered as a volunteer.
It was an innovative and exciting chapter in the shelter’s history. Many of the current programs began in those early years.
The foster program started in 1983. For several years, I assisted with fostering out as many animals as possible for Christmas week so the staff could have a break. I fostered and then adopted my first chihuahua (Bart) at that time.
In 1984, the Companion Animal Program (now Brightening Lives Animal Visits) was four years old. Every Thursday afternoon, three ladies and I loaded up a station wagon with animals in their carriers. We headed out to seniors’ facilities and group homes for hour-long visits. The dogs, cats and sometimes rabbits were selected from the animals up for adoption that day.
The early Pet Pics with Santa were held at the two Ritchie Feed and Seed stores. I remember the OHS Administrator and me selling hotdogs and hot chocolate from a food van in the front parking lot at the Stittsville location.
The first Wiggle Waggle Walkathon was held in 1988. I recall hammering white stakes beside a path next to Dow’s Lake. On-site-only registration was held at H.M.C.S. Carleton drill hall using three copy machines. After the walk, I helped at the finance office with the challenge of deciphering participant’s handwriting to prepare tax receipts.
That is just a glimpse into my early experiences. In 1996 I was honoured to receive the Eleanor Prowse Award. It is given each year to a volunteer for outstanding service.
I joined the Ottawa Humane Society Auxiliary soon after I started working as a volunteer with the OHS. Our group commits time, energy, supplies and ideas to sell baking and crafts to raise funds for the animals. Come January 2021, our Creative Craft Circle will have been meeting for 20 years.
I remember all the amazing animals, and my many adventures. I have met wonderful staff, great fellow volunteers and amazing people in the animal community. The satisfaction from volunteering at the OHS has been a large part of my personal journey.