Celebrating National Volunteer Week
It’s National Volunteer Week, and that’s a big deal to us. Without volunteers, there would be no Best Friends as we know it. It’s as simple as that.
Best Friends began as a group of volunteers more than 30 years ago, growing from roots at the Sanctuary in southern Utah into a national lifesaving force from coast to coast. The work would not be possible without thousands of people who do everything from walk dogs or bottle-feed kittens to working on research projects or at special events. Volunteers are an integral part of the lifesaving taking place at our regional centers, at the Sanctuary, at national events and in just about every aspect of our work.
We show thanks throughout the year with volunteer appreciation parties, special gifts to celebrate milestones of hours logged, and “kudos cards” for staff to personally thank a volunteer. But that’s not why so many people step up to help.
It’s rewarding to help the animals, and some people love it enough that their logged volunteer hours stretch into the thousands. While the sheer numbers are impressive, the real reward is knowing that every single hour given helps save lives.
While volunteers are still an integral part of caring for the animals at the Sanctuary and at our regional centers in four states, many others support our work around the country in ways that might not include scooping litter boxes or walking dogs.
Volunteer with animals near you
Brandi Canning, volunteer manager for Best Friends national events and initiatives, says, “Volunteers are helping with so many different projects around the country, and it’s amazing how much dedication, skill and excitement they bring to their volunteer positions.”
People log thousands of hours each year helping with everything from running community cat programs in several states to volunteering for events like the Best Friends National Conference and our Strut Your Mutt fundraising walk (held in more than a dozen cities). Volunteers have helped with puppy mill advocacy work in Ohio and data gathering in Texas, for example. While a lot of the work takes place in a specific location for a specific program or event, there’s just as much happening on a remote basis, with volunteers assisting with national projects from home.
It’s going to take a national effort to make the entire country no-kill by 2025, and an army of volunteers will make it possible. “We’re always looking for volunteers to help with projects around the country and we encourage people to check the website often,” says Brandi. “We couldn’t do anything we do without volunteers.”
Photos by Sarah Ause Kichas, Erica Danger and Jennifer Hayes