Volunteers on the morning cat cleaning shifts scrub, scoop, wash, sweep, mop and freshen up all the living areas for the 60 cats living at the shelter. There’s a lot to accomplish on this shift and the Tuesday and Thursday morning crew has their routine down to a science.
On Tuesdays, Melanie Zimmer, Brianna Loerop, Tracy Tureson, and Kris Foster take care of the house cats while Joni Kasik and Sarah Moylan take care of the cattery. On Thursdays, the ladies change it up when Penny Derer joins Joni, Sarah and Kris in house cats and Melanie and Brianna move into the cattery. Each of these women is dedicated to keeping the cats well-kept and loved and since they are cross-trained they can fill in wherever needed!
Melanie and Brianna have been working together for eight years and both know that cleaning can be hard work. These two women are known for pulling out the house cat enclosures and cleaning in places no one normally sees. Their work can be tough but they say cleaning can also be fun and rewarding. You can tell that Melanie and Brianna enjoy each other’s company as much as they enjoy the cats. Melanie also has a passion for helping WSHS cats find their adoptive families; after each of her cleaning shifts, she stays for the next showing shift.
Joni and Sarah have been teaming up for the past three years. On their house cat shifts, they both spend time in the Isolation Room where new cats stay until they can be released to our general population. Both Joni and Sarah love meeting and getting to know the new cats. Joni says that there is nothing more rewarding than seeing “newcomer cats that are withdrawn and scared at first come out of their shells.” Sarah cherishes her interaction with Canoodle, one of our little old lady cats that lives in Carolyn’s office. When Sarah first started volunteering, Canoodle was very shy and was scared of Sarah. After three years of loving, Canoodle and Sarah share a special bond.
Penny always wanted to volunteer at WSHS but didn’t have the chance until she retired. Penny loves both dogs and cats but started here on a cat shift and has stuck around for almost 11 years! Penny loves the shelter community where the people come for the animals and for each other. Penny believes “the shelter is the perfect place to practice patience and kindness at all times.” Penny also donates her time to WSHS by videotaping dogs and cats in order to increase their chances of adoption. She has made over 150 videos and worked with countless animal lovers, hearing all of their stories. Penny appreciates that “it’s privilege to touch the lives of these deserving animals.”
Kris Foster has been volunteering at WSHS for 12 years. If you don’t find her with the cats at the shelter, she’s probably outside weeding, tending to our flower beds, or filling the bird feeders or she’s downstairs catching up on laundry and restocking supplies. Kris also trains new cat volunteers at the shelter, is instrumental in our plant sale, and provides a loving foster home for cats in need. Kris enjoys spending extra time with the kitty newbies as well as the long-time residents, getting to know each of them and providing much needed socialization time.
Tracy is the newest member of this dynamo team. She loves cats and certainly found a way to be around them as much as she can when she started volunteering last year. Tracy is also here on Wednesdays, when she takes care of the kitten showcase in the morning and then heads over to the cattery for the afternoon. Tracy may be new but she has fully jumped in and become an integral part of WSHS.
As you can probably guess, these ladies have cats in their lives at home also. Kris adopted foster kitties Baby Grey and Frito (also Philomena, now gone) and takes care of her current foster Lola. Joni has had as many as four cats in her home; she currently has two female cats. Bella and Scarlet. Tracy is mom to 4-year-old Cookie Monster, her son’s support cat, and Penny adopted Samson, a rescue that had been left at the shelter’s front door overnight in 2009. Melanie has a 13-year-old diabetic kitty named Maya and Brianna shares her house with Bailey a German Shorthaired Pointer, two gerbils named Milton and Bradley, and a couple of fish. Sarah is the only non-cat mom with a 6 year old dog name Roxy, another WSHS alum.
When asked about their shifts, each of these women used the words, “respect, trust, friendship, and fun.” Sarah summed it up, “There are so many great stories I have with these ladies. I love working with each of them. We have fun and most importantly we love these cats. I trust these ladies a lot and I can see the cats do too.” All of the women know that the need for forever homes never ends and there truly is a home for everyone, no matter how long it takes. Penny mentioned that there can be challenges working with many people in a small space. But even with the challenges, they remember to laugh every day. Penny’s favorite story is one where one of the shift partners left her keys on the counter and then lost them. Penny shares, “Of course they disappeared by the end of the shift. We were pretty sure they had fallen in the garbage, which had already been thrown in the dumpster, along with all the other morning trash. We made a plan: We went out to lunch, enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and then went back to the shelter and searched the dumpster for the keys. It was gross, but we did find the keys, and laughed the whole time. And thanks to Sarah Stromberg for paying for our lunch that day!”