According to Webster’s dictionary, a volunteer is “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service.”
Franziska Fletemeyer feeds a baby raccoon.
I would add to that definition, ” outside a person’s family and without a monetary consideration.”
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is a grassroots charity, with a very small paid staff and consequently we must rely heavily on the generous spirit of individuals to help maintain the sanctuary and to care for the hundreds of wildlife that come through annually.
Volunteers work regardless of weather conditions, regardless of their own personal commitments, often making sacrifices in order to be on hand to help rescue an injured or orphaned animal, or giving up Sundays and Wednesdays to help out with visiting hours, such as Barbara Cassels and Maggie Sharpe. Diane Collison has made a great contribution to the development and manning of the gift shop. Angel Dow, KarLee Moncrief, Mandy Antler and Kira Stevenson volunteered their time when possible as well.
Residents of Beaver Creek Institution have been instrumental in repairing, rebuilding and constructing enclosures and putting their hands to any other maintenance job required. Without their help, Jock McPhee would find himself overwhelmed with the many jobs needed to keep the sanctuary functioning. Paul Levay, Malte Moeckel (a volunteer from Germany) Derek Banke , Tom Pearcey, Dan Kenney and Tom Darlington have pitched in on specific projects as well. Volunteers from the John Howard Society do chores such as mowing the grass, moving cages and whatever jobs Brenda assigns them. Local students have helped out to earn their community service hours too.
Joe Morin, a member of the Board of Directors, drives all the way from Trenton, Ontario on most weekends to pitch in on whatever needs to be done. And speaking of the Board, each director is a volunteer who gives up time and energy to help us with our mission. Peter Jennings, the chair, has developed printed material; his wife Louise acts as Treasurer. The remaining directors include Tammy Brown, Joanne Korten, Frank Titus, Gary Kadonoff and Julie Goodyer.
And of course, we owe a big debt of gratitude to the national and international volunteers who care for the orphaned and injured wildlife that make their way to Aspen Valley during the chaotic baby season from mid-March through to September. We have been very fortunate to have some returning for a second or even third time, as well as new ones who have been referred to us from previous volunteers. And for the first time we had a good portion of male volunteers!
Under staff supervision, they take on the duties of bottle feeding the young ones every four hours, cleaning cages, preparing diets and doing whatever else is necessary to nurture the vulnerable creatures. Some of the orphans are so tiny that they don’t have their eyes open yet, or are even hairless. Staff Janalene Kingshott and Brenda Kingshott could not possibly cope on their own and rely heavily on the volunteers. Veronica Kingshott helped out on many occasions. Some, like Alexia Garrido, Mathieu Benetiz and Alexandre Brassart from France, and Danielle Kniest from Holland, have come to do internships. Christina Dobbyn had just completed a wildlife rehabilitation course at Northern College. Nadine Kneip, from Germany, came back for a third time and was invaluable in showing the “newbies” what to do. Tim Rawn, from Huntsville, was looking for experience to prepare him for further schooling. Marta Sawchyn from Vanier College in Quebec returned for a second year, as did Jade Porter (Welland) and Chandra McIvor (Montreal). Jade brought along a friend Jon Marleau. Jon had not worked with wildlife but soon became very proficient, and enlivened the evenings with his guitar playing. Raina Milnes (Pickering) and her friend Gillilan Leava (Aurora) both students at Trent University added their accompanying guitar for good times around the campfire. Franziska Fletemeyer stayed for three months and got to see the fall colours before her return to Germany. Genevre Arsovsky, a graduate from the Ecosystem Restoration Program at Niagara College stayed for one month, regaling us with stories about Kiwi, her lovebird. Stephanie McMahon from Geraldton, Ontario gathered valuable experience for her Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Guelph. Tyler Bean from Caledonia is a student from Wilfred Laurier University and volunteered to gain experience, while Amanda Cato took a leave from her job at a bank in Toronto to volunteer. Laurie and Kip Donaldson brought a load of linens and other donations with them when they came to help. Many were able to go out on rescues and releases with the staff and assist with vaccinations and other medical procedures, thus gaining potentially important skills for their future.
It wasn’t all work. There was time for sightseeing and shopping, and for swims in Lake Rosseau, kayaking and canoeing as well.
Every volunteer made a difference. We can’t thank them enough for their help, good humour and work ethic. Hopefully we will see some of them return again in future years.
If you are interested in volunteering in 2013, please contact email@example.com. We do require a minimum of one month’s commitment in order to care for the baby wildlife and a willingness to pitch in when needed.
(Marilyn Cole is also a dedicated volunteer, donating countless hours to work in the Aspen office and on various sanctuary projects, including beaver care.)