Volunteer of the Month – March 2017

We’ve zipped through the first two months of 2017 with great success in saving kitties, and we only plan to rescue more this month, but not without first thanking our Volunteer of the Month, Nina Maravic!

Nina began her role at VOKRA nearly two years ago, shortly after she adopted her two cats. In her first year, she took on the role of a volunteer recruitment coordinator. She wanted to become even more involved with the organization and so began her transition into planning events.

As an event planner at VOKRA, Nina works hard to make sure the events we participate in run smoothly. The first event Nina planned was the online Christmas Craft Fair in 2015 and included items from creative volunteers and local shops. Nina also organizes information booths at pet food stores, community events and pet conventions. Some large-scale events include the Pride Festival and Canada Day, which are great opportunities to raise awareness for VOKRA and kitties in need. In addition, Nina manages school visits where kittens are brought into classrooms and students learn about cat welfare and VOKRA.

“My favourite part of volunteering is planning outreach events that positively impact the community,” said Nina. “I recently worked with SFU on their first Kitten Therapy initiative (ours as well!), which got a lot of media attention and positive feedback from the students. I also love the teamwork that goes into all aspects of volunteering with VOKRA, whether it be the planning, trapping, fostering or any other job. It’s amazing that such a large group of individuals can come together for a common goal.”

We really appreciate Nina’s hard work and dedication to VOKRA

“Nina is an exceptionally hard worker and very curious about all the different volunteer areas within VOKRA,” says fellow volunteer Valerie. “She stepped in and did a wonderful job with the recruitment team before she moved onto the volunteer committee and off to join the fundraising committee. Her skills in setting up events, including all the preparation and organization required, is exceptional. She has introduced a team to handle school presentations which is very popular and a wonderful tool to educate younger people. She’s a very busy volunteer with fresh and new ideas and is a great asset to the VOKRA team!”

Once again, Nina plays such an important role within our organization and we wouldn’t know what to do without her. Thank you, Nina!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Volunteer of the Month – February 2017

peggy-sullivanIt’s the month of love and we have all the love to give for our volunteers. This February, we’re giving our biggest thanks to Volunteer of the Month Peggy Sullivan!

Peggy joined the VOKRA team seven years ago when her friend invited her to volunteer. As a busy individual, she always told herself she would work with animals in some way when she found time. As the adoptions team lead, Peggy’s in charge of training adoption counsellors and ensuring VOKRA’s kitties are going to the best forever homes available. She oversees the processes of matching kitties to applicants and making sure the adoptions team works together to make both the kitty and the adopter happy.

“I work with amazing people at the VOKRA family and have never worked with such a dedicated, unselfish group of people before,” says Peggy. “I have a team of ten members who I’m so proud of. They work tirelessly, they are excellent team players and they’re incredibly dedicated to the cause. We adopted out about 1,400 cats and kittens last year and we’re working harder to beat that number this year.”

The best part of being the adoptions team lead for Peggy is to see how each and every adopter is so committed to the kitties and that the team gets to find furever homes for the kitties that come into VOKRA’s care.

We truly appreciate all the work Peggy puts into this organization because, without her dedication and hard work, the process of adoptions wouldn’t run like clockwork! We thank you Peggy for all the time and effort you put in to make the lives of VOKRA kitties better, one at a time. You’re the best!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Wanted: Volunteer Recruitment Coordinators

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As a volunteer-driven organization, VOKRA’s success depends on our ability to recruit new volunteers. We’r looking for Volunteer Recruitment Coordinators to assist with attracting and matching volunteers with suitable positions. As this important role is the face of VOKRA for potential volunteers, a positive and encouraging attitude is essential. If you have experience or an interest in recruitment or human resources, we’re looking for you!

Responsibilities:

  • Review and process volunteer applications
  • Conduct phone interviews
  • Respond to email and phone inquiries
  • Liase with department leads to fill vacancies and coordinate interview and orientations
  • Make recommendations for volunteer positions suitable for the applicant
  • Collaborate with other recruitment coordinators
  • Use creativity to increase awareness in the community about volunteering opportunities with VOKRA

Skills:

  • Education or experience in human resources is an asset
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently, as well as collaborate with others
  • Efective written and verbal communications skills

Requirements:

  • We ask for a commitment of 3 – 5 hours per week (based around your schedule) for a minimum of six months
  • Volunteers must have access to a personal computer, internet and phone as this position is based almost entirely from home.

To apply please complete the volunteer application form here and then email Raj at volunteervokra@gmail.com to let him know you’ve completed the application.

 

 

Volunteer of the Month – November 2016

lizAfter a terribly rainy October, it’s finally a new month which means it’s also time to congratulate a new Volunteer of the Month – Liz Menning!

Liz first heard about VOKRA through the West Vancouver SPCA, then applied to be a foster in 2012. The current count for cared kitties in Liz’s home is 57! As much as Liz and her family enjoy fostering, it’s no longer feasible with four cats in their household – three of which are foster fails! Liz’s three kids are happily a part of VOKRA and even set up lemonade stands to raise hundreds of dollars to save the kitties. In the four years Liz has been volunteering with VOKRA, she’s taken on many tasks, including caring for kittens, creating the online foster handbook, helping out at adoption events and much more. Liz’s goal is to make sure all the kitties out there are brought in, cared for and, ultimately, loved.

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The three former fosters Liz adopted.

“My first official rescue was in April 2013,” says Liz. “There was a small tortie, Emma, in Horseshoe Bay living in the shed behind a fish and chips place. She was extremely thin when we brought her in, still wearing a ratty flea-collar and missing most of the fur on her lower half. She spent seven months in a foster home where she learned to be pampered; her coat grew in long and thick, so much so that she needed to be brushed daily. Emma was adopted in October 2013 into her forever home.”

As a volunteer, Liz has found a rewarding hobby in trapping and bringing in kitties to VOKRA. It doesn’t matter how feral or how busy the Ops Centre is, because VOKRA treats every incoming kitty with love and kindness. Liz calls it a “Kitty’s Lucky Day” to come to VOKRA. Some of Liz’s most memorable events with VOKRA include her first mass intake of 23 most sick kittens from Abbotsford and Walk for the Kitties.

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Liz busily helping to get out Operations Centre up and running.

She’s deeply inspired by Karen and Maria at VOKRA and their commitment to kitties – each and every one of them. Liz loves working alongside phenomenal volunteers and felt extremely proud seeing the large number of people who attended the VOKRA Volunteer BBQ this past summer.

We here at VOKRA feel the same way about Liz. She’s an extraordinary volunteer and has gone through great lengths to provide the best care possible for all the rescued kitties. Thank you Liz! We appreciate all your hard work and effort to help our organization be successful and, most importantly, to improve the lives of all kitties. Stay awesome!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

Wanted: Adoption Counsellors

momoWho wants to help our kitties find their forever homes?!

We’re looking to grow our team of adoption counsellors and are looking for cat lovers like you. Our adoption counsellors review new adoption applications, interview applicants and, ultimately, match up kitties with adopters. Yah!

Adoption counsellors can take on as many or as few applications as they choose. However, to keep up to date and involved in the adoptions process, it’s ideal for counsellors to have at least 6 hours of volunteer time available per week. Although it may only take a few moments to assist an applicant with their application, it’s important members of the adoptions team respond to emails readily and on a daily basis. All VOKRA volunteers are asked to commit at least 6 months of their time.

Adoption counsellors tasks include:

  • Receiving and reviewing new adoption applications
  • Contacting applicants, scheduling interviews and follow-up
  • Matching kitties and/or suggesting kitties for applicants
  • Liase with fosters to learn more about kitties personalities, pairings, etc..
  • Working with approved applicants to schedule viewing with kitties
  • Follow-up with applicants after viewings
  • Forward adopters to the papers team for processing/payment completion
  • Respond to adopters queries post adoption
  • Update database at each step to reflect status of adoption applications

Members of the adoptions team work closely together to manage the volume of applicants that apply to adopt through VOKRA. If you’re looking to join a fantastic group of people and help kitties find loving forever home then the adoptions team is for you!

To apply to become an adoption counsellor click here.

Questions? Email volunteervokra@gmail.com

Volunteer of the Month – October 2016

laura

Laura’s take on the classic Ops Centre selfie.

‘Tis the season of rain and falling colourful leaves which means it’s also time to introduce you to our Volunteer of the Month  for October – Laura Deck! She’s been a tremendous help at VOKRA and we couldn’t be more thankful.

Laura was first introduced to VOKRA at the ‘Spay-ghetti No Balls Dinner’ fundraiser back in 2012. Just one week later she trapped her first feral cat, Mocha, who she’d been feeding for a while. After that she fell in love with helping kitties in every way – socializing, rescuing and general cat care. Helping all the sick, injured and feral kitties warmed Laura’s heart and all she wanted to do was continue her work at VOKRA. She helped out at the Operations Centre when it first opened and learned numerous volunteer jobs along the way.

mocha

Mocha

“Mocha made it clear he was a vicious cat and wanted nothing more than food from me,” said Laura about the feral boy who started her work at VOKRA.  “After trapping and neutering, he still came by every day to eat, but ran off right after finishing his meal. Eventually he started to understand I meant him no harm, which prompted him to stay and eat in front of me. After almost three years, he finally started to calm down and then it happened… one day he rubbed up against my leg and I couldn’t believe it!”

“I knew he was still scared,” continues Laura, “but after hours of patience and plenty of cat treats he finally started to let me pet him. Mocha then let me brush him and became bolder, sneaking into the house when doors were open. My three female cats eventually accepted Mocha – not best buddies, but they get along. Now, Mocha makes his way onto my lap every night and falls asleep after I scratch his neck and pet him. I am still amazed when he comes to me every day and I’m grateful for the help I had from Mona and VOKRA for helping with him. I never expected to ever be able to touch him or receive his love.”

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Laura’s first rescue = four feral kittens

A few months after consistently volunteering, Laura realized how big the problem of unfixed free roaming cats having kittens outdoors was, which prompted her to start a free spay/neuter program for low income cat owners in Surrey. She was the contact between lower income pet owners and the SPCA Animal Hospital’s Outreach Program, which offers free spays, neuters and tattoos. To extend this program further, Laura organized a free spay/neuter clinic in November 2014 with the help of VOKRA, her friends at Paws for Hope and vets from Scottsdale Animal Hospital. Together, they were able to help spay, neuter and tattoo 30 cats and also vaccinate them. It was huge success and only inspired Laura further.

Laura’s dream is to win the lottery so she can help more cats in her community that need food and medical treatment, as well as hire a vet to work at the VOKRA Operations Centre. Until then, she’s 100% devoted to giving all the help she can to the kitties.

Laura tells us what being a VOKRA volunteer means to her:

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Laura, along with fellow volunteers, after they bathed a group of feral kittens covered in fleas.

“Being part of the VOKRA team means I can help more cats and kittens than I ever could on my own, say Laura. “I have four cats of my own at home and hundreds more I have loved through VOKRA. I’ve made so many wonderful friends volunteering and I love my VOKRA family. I can’t tell you how much I admire Karen, Maria, Shelley and Andrea for all their hard work and long hours at the Operations Centre, as well as all the other volunteers. It’s an honour to work with this amazing group of animal lovers.”

Laura continues, “I would encourage anyone who loves animals to contact their local rescue group and become involved in any way they can. Working with animals is very rewarding and will brighten your day. It makes you feel great when you know you’re making a different in an animal’s life, plus you’ll meet so many wonderful people. Volunteering isn’t always an option for everyone, but VOKRA appreciates help in the form of a donation of any size that will help pay for food and medical costs for the kitties.”

All we can say is Laura has been an extraordinary volunteer since 2012 and we give all our thanks to her. She has the biggest, warmest heart and only wants the best for all the VOKRA volunteers and kitties. Laura, you truly deserve to be Volunteer of the Month with all your hard work – we, as well as all the kitties you’ve helped, give you the biggest hug and thank you!

Post written by Aurora C.

As a 100% volunteer-driven non-profit, we clearly couldn’t do what we do without our extremely dedicated and hard working team of volunteers. THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in volunteering with us visit our website at vokra.ca/volunteer.

2016 Board of Directors Election

VOKRA will be holding its 2016 Annual General Meeting on October 13 at the Hastings Community Centre. Anyone can attend our AGM, however in order to vote you need to become a society member. Membership is only $10 and is a great way to show your support for VOKRA.

2016 VOKRA AGM
Thursday, October 13
7 to 8 p.m. (doors open at 6:15 p.m.)
Hastings Community Centre, Room 9, 3096 E Hastings St., Vancouver
RSVP & BECOME A SOCIETY MEMBER

At the AGM we will be electing a new board of directors. Board membership is a leadership position within VOKRA that guides the organization to achieve its mission. The 12 Directors act in a position of trust for the community and are responsible for the effective governance of our organization.

Current board members seeking re-election:

headshot_coTasha Bukovnik

Tasha’s been volunteering with VOKRA since 2014 and was asked to fill a board vacancy in August 2016. She’s a public relations professional and co-leads VOKRA’s integrated communications and marketing team along with Majid Khoury. As co-lead, Tasha oversees all of VOKRA’s social media activities, coordinates the quarterly Mewsletter, manages the blog, coordinates the development of marketing materials, helps promote events, handles media relations and generally supports other VOKRA teams with whatever they need. Tasha also sits on the fundraising committee and her main focus is to manage VOKRA’s direct fundraising initiatives and appeals. When not volunteering, Tasha loves hanging out on the couch reading or knitting with her CH cat Bran and she’s also in the middle of yoga teacher training.

ShelleyShelley Dowson

After volunteering for more than seven years, Shelley has pretty much done every job imaginable, including cat care, foster coordinator, adoptions interviewer, adoption contracts, driving and transporting cats to the vet, to her current role of overseeing VOKRA’s Operations Centre. Being organized and thrifty are just some of the traits that led Shelley to not only work tirelessly setting up the Operations Centre, but be the brains behind some of VOKRA’s successful past events, such as the Pride Parade and VOKRA’s first Christmas Craft Fair. Running the daily care at the Ops Centre has shown Shelley how rewarding her work is and, after working her 12 hour a day job, she can be found working nights or weekends on whatever needs to be done at VOKRA. She’s also a foster parent for the more difficult older kitties. Shelley’s VOKRA cats, Chookah and Ubu, always keep her on her toes and have become her greatest pals. When this former Saskatchewan girl isn’t at home with them, she can be found searching the thrift stores for the best deals, usually finding something VOKRA could use.

Karen smilingKaren Duncan

Karen, along with Maria Soroski, founded VOKRA in 1999 with a mission: specializing in homeopathic care for kittens that needed around the clock treatment. With the assistance and training from Arbutus West Animal Clinic, Karen was able to make her dream a reality. Over the years, Karen has seen VOKRA expand and grow with a team of volunteers and she could not be more thrilled to have the Operations Centre which has enough space to allow for storage and room for volunteers. While Karen devotes her time to caring for VOKRA’s many charges, she always finds time to show her own cats love.

LucyLucy Hough

Lucy was inspired to become involved with VOKRA during our annual Walk for the Kitties event and has been on the board for the past two years. Lucy recently stepped down from the adoptions team where she was the link between many cats and their foster parents and also helped cats and kittens make the transition to their forever homes. Along the way, Lucy has also responded to emergencies, new foster parents and everything in between. This SFU graduate is also proud to be a director for an organization that is no-kill, one of VOKRA’s main principles. With her years with VOKRA, Lucy has carefully screened hundreds of adopters and follows strict qualifications on who will help our cats thrive and flourish in their forever homes. As a mom to four rescue cats herself, Lucy knows the importance of proper and through screening. When she’s not spending time with her cats, Lucy can be found soaking up the Vancouver sun in her garden, enjoying a run or relaxing with yoga.

cheryl_rogers_headshot (2)Cheryl Rogers

As a CPA and our current treasurer, Cheryl is certainly a business-savvy volunteer. Cheryl, a graduate of SFU, keeps all fiscal matters and policies running smoothly. Her business skills melt perfectly with her passion for helping to reduce the population of homeless cats; which is what inspired her to begin volunteering with VOKRA. She loves being a part of a charity that works to prevent the overpopulation of cats, but it’s the supportive and lasting care that she’s most proud of. Cheryl has a jam packed schedule of working and volunteering, yet she and her six cats manage to find time on weekends to relax and read.

photo(73)Maria Soroski

Maria co-founded VOKRA with Karen Duncan in 1999, after years of volunteering with cats and kittens. While volunteering, Maria saw a desperate need to develop a holistic approach to cat and kitten care, as well as a TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program in order to keep the feral and homeless cat population down. After VOKRA’s inception, Maria’s dream started coming true. Local shelters were seeing a dramatic drop in feral cat and kitten numbers in Vancouver – something Maria is proud to have helped with. She paved the way with VOKRA’s founding values and continues to ensure that as a no-kill organization, the TNR program is one of the best in BC. With a passion for giving homeless and feral cats a happy and healthy life, Maria always ensures VOKRA uses organic and nutritious food for all cats. With VOKRA keeping her busy, the former prairie gal loves to reward herself with time spent at home relaxing with her cats.

New candidates seeking election:

karen-k-2Karen Kohfeld

I have been a foster and participated in VOKRA events for about six years. In addition to being a foster, I’ve encouraged my daughter’s participation in small ways (fundraising through a lemonade stand.), helped to set up an outreach activity at my daughter’s school and done little things at Ops when I could. For a year, I served on the VOKRA Medical Research Board, which helped to put together protocols and procedures for how fosters and volunteers should deal with various illnesses and vaccinations.  I made some contributions through researching food ingredients and by beginning to establish a protocol for reporting of vaccine reactions.  Through these experiences I have gained some understanding of the operations.  Volunteer organizations are run on the backs of volunteers and I like to contribute time and energy to what needs to be done while helping to keep the positive spirit that motivates other volunteers to do what they can do, too. My background is in science and research and I’m used to thinking systematically about problems and operations.  If asked to serve on the VOKRA Board, I would come to the organization with an open mind, a desire to listen to all voices and an interest in making informed decisions that balance new knowledge with the vast experience of people who have been working with VOKRA cats for years.  Ultimately, I want to help to keep VOKRA the strong and effective organization that it already is.

susan

Susan Pare

I have a passion for all animals and a particular love for cats. I believe in VOKRA’s guiding beliefs and principles. I have also worked as a volunteer with VOKRA in the Cat Care Division since April 2015. My background allows me to bring many skills and experience to VOKRA’s board. I’m an enthusiastic, positive and passionate professional with more than 20 years of experience in sales as sales representative, manager, coach and trainer. I have a proven track record for achieving results through developing and coaching people, as well as providing excellent customer service. Some of my accomplishments include:

  • Successfully managed a team of 30 sales representatives, which lead to double-digit growth for seven consecutive years.
  • Developed and managed a sales team of five people with the objective of becoming one of the top 10 most recognized wineries in the world.
  • Sat at executive level weekly meetings to help roll out annual strategic plans.
  • Coached and mentored sales representatives over a period of five years, which resulted in increased productivity and efficiency within the sales division.
  • Designed and introduced three sales training manuals, which successfully became part of the Company’s orientation and training program.

helenHelen Savkovic

I’ve been involved with animal rescue since 2005 when I went down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While there I helped with the food and water stations, as well as animal care.  That experience changed my life.

When I returned home I became involved with a local rescue where I climbed a steep learning curve. I worked on the campaign to ban the sale of puppies in Richmond pet stores and I organized our entry in the Pepsi Challenge where we won $25,000. I remained with that group until the founder retired.

I strongly believe in the cause of animal welfare and the no-kill philosophy. I’m always eager to learn from the experts, attending conferences and lectures whenever possible, as well as visiting other animal welfare organizations locally and out-of-town. I’m very impressed with the work VOKRA does and would be honoured to serve on the board of directors.

caitlinCaitlin Spelliscy

VOKRA is an organization I have always wanted to become involved with. I love cats and VOKRA does such good work to help the cats in our community. Without VOKRA there would be many more homeless cats than there currently are and many of the cats that are rescued would not survive in a shelter setting.

In my professional life, I’m a Human Resources Manager at a company with approximately 400 employees. My career in human resources has given me experience in creating policies, implementing programs, drafting procedures and the necessary knowledge of employment laws and standards. In addition to my role as Human Resources Manager, I’m a member of the senior leadership team and this means I work closely with executives and other senior managers to ensure the operations are running smoothly and employees are happy. As VOKRA grows and may hire paid employees, my human resources knowledge would be an asset to ensure VOKRA meets and abides by all employment laws and standards.

I want to be involved in making a difference in such a reputable organization and if I were elected to the board, I feel my background, knowledge and experience would add value to VOKRA’s board and operations. My love of cats and other animals is what drives me to want to make a difference in their lives!

Nominations from the floor will also be accepted at the AGM.