How 2 tiny kittens inspired a life of volunteerism

Steve Pack with kittens on his shoulder and around him
After Steve Pack’s first foray into the world of trap-neuter-vaccinate-return, he was hooked.
By Nicole Hamilton

Back in 2015, Steve Pack found two small kittens in the alley behind his home. Concerned when he couldn’t locate their mom, he paid a visit to the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City to get some advice. The staff, in turn, provided Steve with the resources and guidance he needed to successfully trap-neuter-vaccinate-return (TNVR) the kittens.

The experience left Steve feeling so inspired that he decided to do more for animals — in particular for outdoor, free-roaming cats. So he returned to Best Friends and asked whether they needed volunteers. He’s been helping out ever since.

“Steve is so versatile that we don't sign him up for a specific volunteer task,” says Pat Theobald, Best Friends community engagement manager in Salt Lake City. Instead, the staff came up with a special shift called "Community Cat Assistance With Steve" that covers any jobs they have for him on a given day.

[An enormous thank-you to Best Friends volunteers]

These tasks include driving to pick up donations, preparing Styrofoam coolers to be turned into cat houses, cleaning and organizing the warehouse area, and setting up and taking down temporary relocation cages for cats, where they can stay until they’re acclimated to their new surroundings.

“I’ll pretty much do anything the staff needs me to do,” says Steve, who also cares for free-roaming outdoor cats in his neighborhood. “I just really enjoy working with such a great group of people.”

Learn more about Steve in the following interview.

What inspires you most in the work you do as a volunteer?

Seeing all that the staff and fellow volunteers do for people who need help and their willingness to give all the help that is needed.

In terms of your volunteer work for Best Friends, what are you most proud of? Why?

I am proud that the staff at Best Friends are so willing to let me help in so many different ways. They are constantly showing me different things to do.

What does volunteering mean to you? Why do you do it?

It means I can give back to the community in a way that I was not aware of before. The people I work with at Best Friends are the best.

Tell us something we don’t know (about yourself or just an interesting fact).

Everything in our house is older than anybody who works for Best Friends. We collect antiques, and our interest is always changing. Who knows what we will collect next.

Do you have pets? Tell us about them!

We currently have nine cats in the house and four outdoor cats. They all came from Best Friends. Two of them have six toes.

Do you have a superpower? If so, what is it?

I have what you might call super weakness. We cannot turn down a cat in need. Does that count?

What would you tell others who are thinking of becoming a volunteer?

If people have compassion for animals, I think volunteering for a shelter or organization like Best Friends is a great idea. When I started volunteering, I could not believe how much Best Friends does for the community.

Since becoming a volunteer, what have you learned? Do you see things differently now? And if so, how?

I have learned that there is a constant and continuing need to help animals. I have seen that everyone can use some direction when it comes to how to help save lives.

Volunteer Steve Pack holding a puppy wearing a protective cone

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