A few months ago, I started volunteering at a local animal shelter. I selfishly chose to volunteer at an animal shelter because I absolutely love dogs and figured spending some time with cute puppies until they find a home would be a great way to do a good deed. Little did I know, I was in for a surprise. Volunteering has been so much more rewarding than just getting to walk and play with cute puppies. It has not only shown me the incredible and extremely hard work that goes on behind the scenes at a shelter but how caring people are towards a shelter.
If you think that working at an animal shelter would be semi-easy, you're wrong. I'm sure everyone thinks that the vets that work at shelters have the hardest job, and not to knock what they do (because what they do is hard and incredibly important), but all of the other jobs that go on are just as difficult. There are people who work with the animals day and night on behavioral and training issues that an animal night suffer when being put into a shelter. They actually get these helpless animals to start trusting humans again, whether it be after abandonment or abuse. There are people who hustle and bust their buts to socialize these animals so that families see that even though they might not be 100% there yet, the animal is trying to be more lovable when you first meet it.
There are people who do nothing but fundraise and try to recruit volunteers because shelters just don't work without those two things. There are people who work day and night with people who are willing to foster (shout out to the foster parents out there - you have such a tough job!). Then there are the people who deal with the day to day operation of the shelter and these people are busting their butts to make sure that place is top notch so when potential adopters come in, they have a wonderful experience. Also to the workers who deal with other shelters that might need help (like when hurricanes hit and shelters need other shelters to take animals so they survive), and also the ones who drive to and from cities saving animals every day.
There are so many different jobs that I could rattle off and not even begin to scratch the surface - it's honestly eye-opening and incredible. But not only did I learn that a shelter is filled with wonderful people who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place for animals who are here for such a short time, but has shown the compassion of people who find out about the shelter.
The people who donate to shelters are just as wonderful. Anybody willing to drop off old sheets, blankets, towels, pet beds or toys or anything! They deserve huge recognition. Without people being so caring towards a shelter, the shelter would not be able to do what it does and be able to save so many animals. When I started telling people that I volunteer at an animal shelter, they loved it and loved hearing about it. It genuinely shows that you don't always have to be on the inside working or volunteering, but can support by donating time, money or resources as well.
I highly suggest everyone find something they're passionate about and start volunteering. Yes, it could turn in to a job one day, but it can also just be something that you hold close to your heart and that you can do once or twice a month that means something to you. It doesn't need to be an animal shelter - some people just aren't animal people! It can be a local soup kitchen or helping out with a charity walk or 5k in your town. It can be volunteering at your local firehouse or something, anything, that shows you another side to the world.
I promise you that if you do, you'll look back in a few months and feel gratitude, happiness, and appreciation for those you never did before.