Monday, April 30, 2012

Every Pet’s Fairy Godmother: Volunteer Alda Walker

By Siri Espy 

No, Alda Walker has not discovered the secret of human cloning! She really has worked in nearly every department of Animal Friends during her 11-year stint as a volunteer. Living out her childhood ideals, she got a head start on volunteering at age 13 as a Salvation Army bell ringer. And she grew up in a family of six children, each of whom had a pet.  

With this background, it’s probably no surprise that she gravitated toward Animal Friends when looking for a place to volunteer with her daughter, Nikki. Now 22, Nikki has remained involved with Animal Friends by completing a high school internship, working part-time as an animal caregiver and carrying on a family tradition.

Alda’s contributions to Animal Friends include working in our adoption and admissions departments. She also supports our medical department, where she assists on the mobile surgical unit to help bring low-cost spay and neuter services to the community. She’s often stationed Animal Friends’ greeter desk, sharing her cheerful outlook with all who enter the shelter. And she loves working with children, helping with summer camps and classes provided through our Humane Education Department.

While her personal menagerie is currently limited to cats, Alda is a member of our Dog Behavior Team, where she trains new volunteers and makes canine residents comfortable and ready to fit into new forever homes. She can also be found lending a hand at fundraising events, and she’s frequently recruited to represent Animal Friends in our commercials and TV spots.

“Alda is a wonderful ambassador for Animal Friends,” says Jolene Miklas, Director of Communications. “Her generous spirit shines through in everything she does. Our programs have truly benefited from her time and talents, and our staff and volunteers benefit from her warm, funny presence.” 
Although she once served as a full-time volunteer (sometimes logging up to 45 hours a week), Alda still gives at least 20 hours a week to Animal Friends. Every spring, she can be found with a tiny cat carrier in tow – she has become a foster mom extraordinaire to bottle-baby kittens, sometimes only days old, weighing in at a few ounces, and in need of round-the-clock feedings. She still cries every time one of her fragile charges doesn’t survive.

Even with the demands of her volunteer duties, Alda manages to have a full life away from Animal Friends. She has a flexible schedule as a corporate trainer, and considers herself fortunate to have a man in her life who supports and encourages her efforts. She can also be found at home with her seven felines, in her studio making jewelry and greeting cards and serving as a teacher and lector in her church.

During her years as a volunteer, Alda has poured her heart and soul into Animal Friends, and has found that giving is not just a one-way endeavor.  “I love both animals and people,” she explains.  “I just truly believe in what Animal Friends does, and I’ve come to see the staff and volunteers as my family.”

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