When moving to a new state, there are so many things to plan for. What part of town would you like to live in? What does the job market look like, if you don’t already have one lined up? For community-driven individuals like Monique Heck, an equally important question is: What volunteer opportunities are out there? It was with this question in mind that Monique discovered Animal Aid.

“I had been in Oregon for just under a year and knew that I wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter,” she said. “After reading about the founders and the mission of Animal Aid, I knew that I wanted to help this nonprofit.”

Flash forward to the present day, and Monique has been assisting Animal Aid for going on six years, volunteering her time on a weekly basis as one of our PIC caregivers: the lead volunteer during the shelter’s morning or evening cleaning hours and the person in charge of feeding the cats and administering medications as necessary.

“I knew that I wanted to make an impact on the lives of the kitties in the shelter, and I thought that caregiving would be the best fit for me,” she said. “After about a month of caregiving, I was asked if I would be interested in the PIC position, and of course I accepted. I know that a lot of people are uneasy with medicating cats, but I have done it before with my own animals and felt comfortable stepping into this role.”

Monique is particularly drawn to the shyer cats, using her volunteer shift to give them a little extra time and TLC. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find her stretched out on the floor with a food dish in hand, encouraging the more timid kitties to eat their dinner and learn that they can trust her.

“I have had breakthroughs with multiple shy cats over the years,” she said. “Whether it be getting a cat to come out of hiding or getting a cat to eat who hasn’t had much of an appetite. These experiences really leave me with a full heart and reassure me that volunteering does make a difference and that I made the right choice.

“I think that it’s very important to advocate for animals who can’t do that themselves. By volunteering, I get to help animals in need, and in turn they help me. Even on my most tired days, I still make it to Animal Aid for my volunteering shift and leave feeling fulfilled and happy—even with mass amounts of fur on my clothes.”

One Animal Aid rescue in particular stole Monique’s heart three years ago: little miss Honey, known during her time at the shelter as Scarlett.

“I was just so smitten with her,” Monique remembered. “She is a small cat and has a cute little mane, which I later found out she completely sheds in the summer months. She loves morning cuddles, loves to chat, and is definitely feisty. She is a perfect fit for our family.” 

Alongside Honey, Monique shares her home with her husband and the family’s canine buddy, Franklin. In addition to volunteering her time with Animal Aid, Monique loves to camp, float along the river, and take in the sights and sounds of the beach. 

In keeping with her generous nature, Monique also took this opportunity to turn the spotlight away from herself and onto her fellow volunteers: “I just want to thank all of the volunteers that make Animal Aid what it is today. It couldn’t be done without all the hard work and dedication put in, and I want you to know that it doesn’t go unnoticed. Thank you for doing all that you do and for allowing me to be a part of this Animal Aid family!”

Looking for a way to give back? Become an Animal Aid volunteer! Opportunities include working at the shelter or remotely. We promise to provide lots of animal puns, cat hair, vegan lemon cookies, and all the fuzzy feelings. Learn more and apply to volunteer.

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