Busy event producer still finds time every week to make a difference for homeless pets
Lauren Fishman has produced such major events as the Super Bowl and World Series, but she considers volunteering at the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in New York City the most rewarding work she’s ever done.
Lauren began her career at NBC where she worked with the original “Saturday Night Live” cast and crew before starting the network’s corporate events department. Today, she’s busy running her own events company, but she still considers volunteering at the center every week as one of her top priorities.
When she’s at Best Friends, Lauren does everything possible to keep dogs happy until they are adopted. If she’s not out on a walk or playing with a pup, she’s apt to be in a kennel, giving out lots of love.
She also lends her expertise to help with Best Friends events, and recently she visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah. “It was so special because it allowed me to see firsthand the large scope of the work Best Friends does for all animals,” she says.
Laura Barnes, community engagement lead at the lifesaving center in New York, loves how dedicated and positive Lauren is from the minute she walks through the front doors to volunteer. “Lauren continues to go above and beyond,” says Laura. “She’s always bringing new ideas to the team and has been a huge part in helping us move our work forward.”
In the following interview, Lauren tells us more about why she volunteers.
Why did you decide to volunteer, and what motivates you to continue to help pets?
I decided to volunteer with Best Friends when I lost my best friend, Robert Tsunami, a Pembroke corgi. The loss of Robert was devastating, and helping pets has kept his memory alive. When I interact with the dogs at the center, Robert's soulful eyes and spirit are with me. I am also fully committed to the Best Friends mission to Save Them All and the no-kill initiative.
What inspires you most in your volunteer work?
Having the opportunity to give these dogs love and respect and getting to assist in finding them new homes inspires me every time I walk into the center.
Since becoming a volunteer, what have you learned and do you see anything differently now?
I have learned to respect and appreciate many types of dogs. Pit bull terriers are so misunderstood, and they are the smartest, most loving animals. I have also learned to interact with and walk large dogs, and truly appreciate their energy and the love they have to share.
What are you most proud of in your volunteer work?
I am most proud of the consistency and dedication I feel toward my work at Best Friends and my interaction with all the dogs, giving them emotional support, love and kindness. I am also proud to be able to assist with the many events Best Friends produces. I feel proud of the friendships I have with all the wonderful staff and other volunteers at Best Friends as well.
Tell us about your favorite volunteer moment.
It was when Ruthie, a pit bull terrier mix, was adopted from the center. I spent so many hours with this loving girl. We all patiently helped her through all her struggles until she found her “pawfect” parents. Ruthie's journey is an inspiration to so many people.
Besides volunteering for Best Friends, how else do give back to your community?
Through my event work, I manage and often donate my time to help nonprofits around the New York City area.
Could you tell us about your pets?
I currently live in a building that allows visiting pets only. Therefore, I have a corgi named Henry who stays with me very often. I am his second mother. My building is working on becoming pet friendly, and when it does I will adopt my very own best friend.
What would you tell others who are thinking of volunteering?
I’d tell them that the work Best Friends does as a national organization is phenomenal, and getting to be a small part of this extraordinary group of people is a gift. When you volunteer and feel the energy of the work that is done daily at the center, you really understand the full magnitude of the commitment to Save Them All by 2025.
Best Friends in New York works collaboratively with city shelters, local animal welfare organizations and individuals to save the lives of pets in shelters in New York City and the surrounding tri-state area. As part of this work, Best Friends has a national lifesaving concept space and pet adoption center in SoHo, hosts adoption and fundraising events, and runs a foster program in partnership with Animal Care Centers of New York City. Together, we will Save Them All.
Photos courtesy of Lauren Fishman