Meet the BFR Volunteers
“Hi I am Rachel formerly of Animal Angels Rescue Qld and now working with Best Friends Rescue. I was VP with AAR for five years and in that time we started off with a small team who were quite dedicated and enthusiastic. As more and more animals came in the team members struggled with the neverending calls for help, the stress of finding carers and organising transport and trying to think of new ideas on how to fundraise. As a coordinator you can get overwhelmed, flustered and damn snappy, especially if people let you down at the last minute. You find yourself stretched to the limit physically, mentally emotionally and financially. It can be mentally draining, you often can’t sleep and don’t get to eat or shower till mid afternoon because you have been on the phone networking or trying to organise logistics. You find people start to drop off that once volunteered because their families struggle to share your time ,you often miss your kids school events because an emergency comes up or you need to smooth things over or find replacement carers. It’s so difficult to find people that will stick with you and it seems that it’s always the same people that end up doing the fundraisers because others just can’t commit to possible long days or weekends. You often feel unappreciated and taken for granted. What makes all this worthwhile though is seeing the animals flourish, thrive and settled once in care and especially in their forever families homes. Often supporters think you get lots of support and so they think you don’t need them , nothing could be further from the truth. You feel angry and betrayed when others that once supported you go onto help other newer rescues and they just won’t communicate why they left you, it can be disheartening and bewildering. You can end up feeling jaded and think that if only I had to deal with the animals and not people, some days. Then you get that updated pic of an animal you personally helped ,now in their forever home and it seems to make it all worthwhile. Good volunteers are hard to come by and ones that stick with you even scarcer. If you as a rescue are still around in 5 years time you are doing extremely well, so be proud. If your team has stuck together in that time you are blessed. Please if you consider helping as a coordinator be patient we can’t teach you everything in one day, some things you can only learn by experiencing them. If you can only help in limited times or days be honest about it, it will save much time and disappointment and feelings of being letdown, there is still so much you can do to help even sharing posts and liking things on the page keeps it active and in your newsfeed. If you can offer only a few hours occasionally at an event then do so , as often teams can work around this and do shifts together , more hands make light work as the saying goes.If you volunteer to foster an animal remember that animal is new to to your family home and environment, it takes time for them to settle and learn the ropes and routines, be consistent with what you ask of them and most importantly be patient.Ask questions and get advice and try some of the suggestions and not just think that’s too hard or that won’t work, sometimes you need to think outside of the box the animals don’t always understand what is expected of them right away, they maybe so excited and stimulated that accidents could happen and they may not always understand they have done something wrong. It takes time, routine, encouragement and consistency to teach them. They may have never had boundaries before now. The last thing they and your coordinator need is to be uprooted and unsettled because it’s all just to hard or time consuming. You wouldn’t give a child away because they didn’t learn something the very first time they were shown, think about it from their perspective. Distraction and refocusing works well for children and animals and redirecting them to the other behaviours and make learning fun and happy will always be the best outcome and achieve the best results. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you are unsure what to do next, that’s what your coordinators are there for.
Help rescuers and coordinators by being supportive and acknowledging them and understand if they don’t get back to you straight away on something they probably just have other things that crop up that take precedence. If you are good at admin type stuff or technology let the team know they are often bogged down with paperwork and appreciate help with that side of things. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a town to run a successful rescue. Thank you to all those who have stuck by your chosen rescues and done your bit to help , no matter how big or small. If we can put egos aside and know that in our hearts we are all here for the same reason...to save lives, then we will get through each stressful and joyous day and know we made a difference.”