National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration that takes place in the United States and Canada to promote, as well as, to show recognition to those who dedicate their time to help a variety of causes. This year, the celebration of volunteers takes place between April 23-29.
The National Volunteer Week history dates back to the Second World War in Canada when women were praised for their dedication and participation in supporting the war effort on the home front. In the United States, this week of dedication was established by Nixon in 1974. Every year, the current president delivers a significant speech in honor of volunteers. There are even a variety of awards that are presented for outstanding volunteers including the Points of Light Tribute Awards, and the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
This week is all about bringing attention to all volunteers who give up their time to help causes and to inspire more people to contribute their time to a global, national, or local cause. Even though there are a lot of different causes to volunteer for, a lot of people make an enormous difference by volunteering their time for pets.
On Volunteer Match, Meredith Snyder talks about volunteering as a foster parent for unwanted pets from animal shelters and how rewarding of an experience it is. She does mention how frustrating it can get at times with it taking up extra time, money, and a lot of effort, but in the end, it’s all worth it. Every bit of what she does it saves one more animal and gives them an opportunity to live a better life.
“When you take a scared, shaking, lonely dog out of their cage at the pound and offer them, temporarily, your home, you know you are doing something wonderful,” Meredith said. “You give them a warm home, and they warm your heart.”
Meredith takes in foster pets through Paws and Prayers, an organization that’s dedicated to rescuing and helping unwanted animals find a new, loving home. “Volunteering for them has been a life changing experience,” says Meredith.
There have been many euthanizations of unwanted animals because of the over population of cats and dogs, along with not having enough resources to care for all of them. With so many animals not receiving the full, happy life they deserve, volunteering as a foster parent is one way to cut down on the euthanizations.
“Millions of homeless dogs and cats are put to sleep in shelters in our country every year,” said Meredith. “I want to be a part of the effort to save as many of their lives as I can. These animals deserve good, loving homes.”
Another volunteer, Mary Cope, shares her experience as a volunteer at multiple hospitals but gets help from Paws for Smiles. An organization that dedicates their time by bringing smiles to hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools in South Florida through registered pet therapy dogs.
Mary had a lab mix wander up to her yard all mangy, wearing no collar, and had a broken foot. She knew that the poor dog had been abused, and that’s when Mary took her in as her own. Later, Mary wanted to train her new pup, Lady, to be a therapy dog. Soon enough, Lady, the poor sick put that came to her door for help, is now visiting hospitals letting the patients and staff love on Lady for a little bit to brighten their day, just like Mary brightened hers.
When Lady and Mary visit hospitals, patients’ faces light up when they see Lady make an entrance, even the staff members bring her treats. Mary recalls an unforgettable experience when a 102-year-old had a huge grin on her face when Lady walked in and said, “Oh my gosh, I’ve seen this on TV lots of times and it’s never happened to me before. I love it, thank you so much!” That’s what makes Mary volunteer, to not only see a once abused dog love again, but also see patients’ faces light up. “The feeling is indescribable,” says Mary.
There are many ways to volunteer to help pets. Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers to be dog walkers, help at the front desk, and help plan events to bring awareness to adopting dogs. You can follow in the footsteps of Meredith and become a pet foster parent, or follow Mary, certifying your pup to be a therapy pet to make others smile. It’s as simple as giving a helping hand every once in a while.
Take advantage of this week to try something new and volunteer at your local animal shelter. You could also share your favorite cause on social media to bring awareness to others, or simply just thank someone for donating their precious time to help others.