5 Ways to be a Better Volunteer

The ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, in its fifth and final year, has enabled shelters around the country to find homes for hundreds of thousands of pets since 2010. Hosted in partnership with our friends at the ASPCA, it challenges top shelters to be even better and race to save as many lives as they can, improving over their numbers from the previous year.

The numbers for each ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge are staggering – hundreds of thousands of animals have been saved since its start.

Looking at all these successful shelters, we wondered: What could they teach us about being better volunteers? Whether it’s at an animal shelter or any good cause you care about, we want to help everyone do a little more good in the world!

Sarah Brown is the executive director of the Humane Society of Pinellas, the largest no-kill shelter in Pinellas County, Florida. Her shelter competed in the Challenge last year – with stellar results. After an email interview, we learned a few things from Sarah, and thought they could help you, too!

1. Get started.

If you’ve always wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter, but haven’t known how to start, now’s the time to try. “Shelters wouldn’t exist without the help of the volunteers. They are so critical to the operation,” said Sarah.

She even guarantees you’ll love it: “I promise it will be a rewarding experience.”

Courtesy of Humane Society of Pinellas

2. Feel the love.

Give yourself a high-five: taking time out to do a little good helps the world around us. And, it helps your heart feel a bit happier, too.

“Seeing an animal get a second chance at a forever home is such a rewarding experience,” she said. “Animals end up at shelters because of unfortunate circumstances, not because they are damaged goods.”

3. Be a team.

Don’t you feel like you can save the world when you volunteer? One of the best parts of working at a shelter is by partnering up with people who are just as passionate as you.

Whether you’re volunteering or participating in ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, Sarah says be a great communicator, and don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.

“Without teamwork during the challenge, you cannot realize success,” Sarah said. “Teamwork is the core of the operation. The blood, sweat and tears that my team put forth for this challenge was mind-blowing.”

Every life counts! Image courtesy of Humane Society of Pinellas

5. Go for it. 

Volunteering can be hard work. You might encounter challenges that you’ve never faced before. But you and your community can make a difference!

For example, Sarah explained that during the first week of the Challenge, Tropical Storm Andrea caused one of the roofs at their facility to collapse. But were they about to quit? No way!

“The sheer support from other local shelters, community members and the ASPCA team was overwhelming to us,” Sarah recounted. Despite having to shut down for a couple days during the Challenge, they still placed first in their division by the end of the first month. Bravo!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and volunteer! And don’t forget to enter the “I Rescued My Pet” contest with an awesome photo of you and your adopted pet for a chance to win a Rachael Ray prize pack worth $400!

[Top image courtesy of the Humane Society of Pinellas]

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