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my volunteering experiance!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
well i did my fist day at the cat haven the other day as a volunteer, and i must say it wasn't exactly what i pictured it to be..

firstly, when i got there, no one said 'hi' to me or offered to introduce themselves to me, then then a girl led me into some cat cages and left me there without saying a word with 2 other people who i didn't know were volunteers as well until they asked me if i was volunteering as well! so we were all pretty lost and wondering what we were suposed to do..
another girl came over and told me to follow her and she started cleaning out the cages whilst i just kinda stood there ..( she didn't tell me to do anything, and she didn't even introduce her self or ask for my name!) i finally asked her if i could help her by doing anything (because i felt like a knob head just sanding there watching her clean cages in silence!) and so i helped her fill the bowls and change the water. so that wasn't too bad, and i got to play with some of the cats as well.

then after morning tea they made me clean 100+ litter boxes BY MYSELF for 2 hours!! okay i don't minda bit of hard work, especially if i;m getting paid for it, but i got the feeling that they were taking advantage of me by making me do all the crappy jobs! and isn't it as a VOLUNTEER you HELP them with the work they have to do( as in you both do soemthing togeather helping each other) , not do the crappy jobs they DON"T want to do?

i don;t know maybe i'm expectations are high, as i've never done any volunteer work like this before, but it didn't seem as rewarding as i thought it might be...i didn't even get to see many of the cats or interact with any of the customers, i was just stuck most of the day cleaning litter boxes and doing laundry by myself.
even the manager there said for me to not let the staff there take advantage of my 'helping' and to report it if it happens, so that might be a thought..

also the girl who was suposed to be showing me what to do was saying how she doesn't liek working there and how much social politics goes on around there. my overall impression was that they didn't really care about the cats are much as i thought they would, but then again i guess if you are there all the time you can become sort of hardened by it..

i'm contemplating whether i should continue volunteering there or not as i don't think i'm getting out of it what i want to, and the poeple don't seem very friendly. i don't even think i would want to work there (being paid) not because of the duties that need to be done, but because it doen't seem like a very nice working enviroment to be in....hmmm...
post #2 of 11
I would say something to the manager. The Cat Haven does need volunteers and if this is how staff are treating volunteers, then word will simply spread not to volunteer at a place that sounds ghastly.

It's a place that drains you emotionally, the staff should know that you are there, not only to help the cats but also to support each other. Talking to you about the social politics of the place isn't very professional.

There really should have been introductions made and I can't understand why you and the two other volunteers were left standing there without being shown around the place together as a group.

And with what you have just told me, I'm thinking twice about volunteering my help towards the Cat Haven when I head back to Perth.

I have done volunteering work before. And because I was a volunteer, I was never left alone to do tasks until it was absolutely clear that it was okay to do so. And in every case, I have always assisted someone with a task in the same room before being able to work unsupervised. I'm not sure what the situation is with animal shelters, but I would think it is the same as in volunteer organisations helping people.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
yes, thats what i thought... i think i will say sometihg to the manager, i feel like they are pushing the crappy jobs that they don't want to do onto the volunteers( at least on the days that i was there) i'm not there to do the jobs they are PAID to do, but to HELP them do the jobs they need to do..!

and at lunctimes and tea, all they did was bitch about the otehr staff members~!
post #4 of 11

I would have thought the staff would have taken the opportunity to find out more about the volunteers, like what other things you did when you weren't at the Cat Haven. And perhaps introduce themselves to you if they hadn't had the opportunity to do so before.

I feel sorry for the cats that end up at the particular branch of Cat Haven. I don't see how the staff can be of any help if they're too wrapped up in the finer details of why they don't like each other.
post #5 of 11
Its really difficult for overworked and overstressed staff to take the time to work with volunteers, to do the propoer orientation, and to show them what to do. Volunteers are a real godsend, and some organizations can't survive without them, but volunteers should not be treated like cheap labour. And the regular staff are not the people to look after the volunteers. There should be one person, either staff or experienced volunteer, who does that job.

I don't think that it would work for you to be working alongside the paid workers, "helping". I think that there should be jobs that the volunteers, as a group, are in charge of, and those jobs should be something more than cleaning out litter boxes.

Speaking from experience, it is an very difficult task to design a volunteer experience that is helpful to the organization, and still fulfilling for the volunteers. I don't think, from the sound of things, that this shelter has given much thought to the issue.

I would suggest that you speak to the manager, and in a very non confontational way, explain what you expected to get out of this volunteer experience. For example, you might want to help the customers fill out their adoption forms, or you might want to help prepare the adopted cats for pick up. Something like that.

And then see what they might find for you to do. I just don't think that expecting to work alongside the staff, helping them to do their own jobs, would work out well in the long term. You need your own designated tasks that are done by the volunteers.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
sammie5: i totally agree with you!, i also think that they have ahd problems with volunteers before, becaue when i signed up for it the manager told me specifically not to let the staff make me do all the work, and if they are doing that to let him know.

i also agree with you on the idea that the volunteers should have their own designated task. but so far i think that the only tasks they have designated to volunteers is to go around and collect money for the cat haven, or sell biscuits etc,..to raise funds. thats all fine, but i think that some people may want a more hands on involvment at the cat haven that doesn't include doing alll the jobs the paid staff don't want to do!

but i have good news! at the cat haven website they have asked for volunteers to help take photos of the cats to put on the website, so i'm going to help with that, and hopfully they will also let me help on the website doing other things! that will also be good for me cuz i'm studying in that field, so it will also be like work experiance too!
post #7 of 11
I am sorry that you had a bad first experience. Don't forget the reason you went there in ther first place, to help the kitties. Maybe it is for the best that the manager be told what is going on so that the atmosphere there is lightened a bit, at least for the cat's sake.
Keep trying, it can only get better from here

post #8 of 11
Uh the nerve of some people!
post #9 of 11
Wow.. no that doesnt sound very rewarding at all I would definately talk to whoever is in charge. Animal volunteers should be volunteering because THEY WANT TO and THEY LOVE THE CATS. Doesnt sound like those other girls are happy to be there. That is too bad, makes me sad for the kitties.
post #10 of 11
I guess if you want to help the cats, you have to suck it up and do what they give you... I've volunteered at a lot of places, and while it is not always fun (that's why they call it work , there are things that have to be done.

You can't control how others act, only how you react to it. If people aren't being friendly or asking your name, be friendly and ask theirs. Do your work without complaint, as that is why you are there. They are not there to entertain you or make you feel good about yourself or provide you with cute cats to pet, you are there to help them, and if 2 hours of scooping is what they ask you to do, then that is what you should do.

Sorry if I sound harsh, but that is my opinion...
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
okay fair enough, they are running a business and work has to be done, fine. but i still think they could gone about it alot better, make you feel welcomed or least explain how to do the tasks more throughly.

anyways i went to the haven today, and it was alot better!
eveyone was really friendly today, and i'm going to help on the webpage, i think maybe everyone was just having a bad day last week
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