Gearing up for National Volunteer Week!
Feline Rescue: 20 Years of Dedi-CAT-ed Volunteers!
Feline Rescue began when the Animal Relief Fund (ARF) decided to close its shelter in 1997. About a dozen ARF volunteers formed a new organization that would have a shelter facility; and so, Feline Rescue, Inc. was born. Bylaws were developed, with the incorporators listed as Ray Birkland, Jim and Rosemary Brock, Rick Johnston, Pat McCarty, Nancy Mosier, Richard Stegall and Hertha Schulze. There were also several others in the original founding group, including Terri St. Sauver, who had experience with nonprofit organizations and helped significantly with the development of the bylaws.
Feline Rescue was first located on Charles Avenue in St. Paul. Already the fledging organization had some devoted donors, and funds willed to Feline Rescue helped to purchase the current building at 593 Fairview Avenue North in St. Paul.
Over the years, Feline Rescue grew, expanding and enhancing its Shelter, Foster and Outreach programs. The small number of volunteers 20 years ago now has increased to more than 400. You can find them greeting visitors, cleaning litterboxes, feeding and entertaining cats, socializing cats, administering medications, providing foster care, bottle feeding kittens, rescuing cats in danger, helping with spay/neuter clinics, planning and staffing events, speaking to the community, raising funds, producing newsletters, photographing cats, developing and maintaining Facebook and Web presence, maintaining databases, helping with other administrative tasks, and so much more.
Several years ago, in an article she wrote for The Scoop, Donna Bolte, shelter shift lead, said, “Who are these volunteers? What is it that initially draws them to consider mopping floors or poking pills down reluctant throats? What brings them back week after week? A profile of one shift….is indicative of just how diverse these people are……, but the common theme is interacting with our cats in a no-kill environment.”
For most of its 20 years of existence, Feline Rescue was 100 percent volunteer staffed. But when the organization purchased another building that needed repairs and remodeling, volunteer Mark Fausner was hired as the part-time facilities manager, although he continues to volunteer in other capacities. In 2016, Dana Andresen was hired as executive director to manage the ever-increasing complex multiple functions of this growing organization. And yet, volunteers still are – and always will be – the lifeblood of this organization.
Here’s what some of our volunteers have had to say about their experience with Feline Rescue:
“We have learned so much over the years that we then adopt to better the health and well-being of our cats.” — Jocelyn LaBerge, longtime volunteer, shift lead, past member of the Board of Directors, member of the Advisory Committee
“There are so many people with such boundless hearts who work so hard to save cats. I’m just proud to play a tiny part in it.” — Mandy Dwyer, foster caregiver, photographer, Instagram account manager
“I love talking with other volunteers because we share the same interest – cats.” — Kate Sheetz, longtime volunteer, transporter of cats to the vet
“What I love most about Feline Rescue is that the cats will always have a home even if their adoptions don’t work out.” – Erin Lerwick, foster caregiver
“My interest is in adopting FeLV cats. I am pleasantly surprised with the amount of support I have received from other Feline Rescue volunteers.” – Mary Thrall, shelter greeter and caretaker, foster intake database specialist
“There’s a big difference between ‘buying’ a cat and ‘adopting’ one. We seek to find the right fit for each kitten and adult cat.” – Joan Barrett, Foster Program adoption coordinator; member, Board of Directors
“It’s hard to believe it’s already been 20 years. At the Charles Ave location, there were often only two volunteers on a shift. Now look at all the wonderful volunteers and the amazing number of cats saved, spayed/neutered and adopted.” – Richard Stegall, founder, longtime volunteer, shift lead
For the last 20 years, Feline Rescue volunteers have worked tirelessly to save abused, abandoned and stray cats, providing care and shelter and finding them new homes. With the solid foundation created by its founders and sustained by its dedicated roster of volunteers, Feline Rescue is well positioned to carry out its mission for the next 20 years and beyond.