From transporting injured wildlife, to wielding power tools to help keep facilities in shape, volunteer Steve Gall has done almost every volunteer assignment at PAWS Wildlife Center. He enjoys it all, even the not-so-glamorous duties. "I see the laundry as a challenge; cleaning the seal pools, a hill to conquer," Steve smiles.
But his favorite part is having contact with the wild animals: tube-feeding baby Raccoons or holding a Great Blue Heron patient for a staff rehabilitator during a procedure. Witnessing the return of healed animals to the wild is the icing on the cake. His work at PAWS is completely different from Steve's 25 years at Boeing before retirement. Steve often imagines that if he had a chance to do his life over, he probably would have chosen wildlife rehabilitation as a career path instead.
Lara Helminiak and Heather Arnot take on challenges of a different species—bringing comfort through foster care to kittens. With their skill and experience, PAWS' foster care coordinator feels confident in sending even the most sick or vulnerable animals home with Heather and Lara for expert care and plenty of love.
"We got involved with PAWS because we believe strongly in the mission," said Heather. "And honestly, we chose foster care as a stress reliever. Petting kittens is perfect for that." They also found that foster care was a great way to help animals in a way that matches their schedules, with most of the volunteer work taking place in their own home. The thrill of bringing a healthy, vibrant kitten back to PAWS to find their forever home, is the ultimate reward. Lara shared, "It feels pretty great to be part of that."
Volunteers are the cornerstone of PAWS' life-saving work. After all, that's how PAWS started out forty years ago, when caring citizens came together to make a difference in the lives of animals. Thanks to our volunteers, orphaned baby songbirds are fed, homeless dogs are walked, and laws are changed to better protect animals. More than 1,000 volunteers like Steve, Lara and Heather dedicate themselves to the animals at PAWS, and receive a sense of pride and accomplishment in return, as well as countless stories to share. If you've been thinking about helping animals in need, we'll be happy to find you a volunteer role that's a perfect fit. Summer is our busiest time as we care for the hundreds of young animals who come through our doors. Visit paws.org or call us at 425.787.2500 x838 to learn more!