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National Volunteers Week

National Volunteers Week - Ziggy Belle

Entrance to SCARS - Ziggy Belle

18th - 24th is National Volunteers week. Ziggy Belle are proud to support the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge which is a local charity that relies heavily on the work of volunteers. So we thought we would delve into the life of volunteering and what is actually involved.

What is Volunteering?

Formal volunteering is defined as unpaid help in the form of time, service or skills willingly given by an individual through organisations or groups.

According to Volunteering Australia the voluntary work survey conducted in 2010 estimated that  6.1 Million people in Australia aged over 18 participated in formal volunteering. That is a whopping 36.2% of the population!

Why Do People Like to Volunteer?

During the survey Volunteering Australia conducted in 2010 people were asked why they liked to volunteer. There were many reasons given but the stand out answer was that volunteering your time willingly to a cause you believe in gives you a sense of self worth and that you are doing something worthwhile. It gives a sense of belonging and personal satisfaction that what you are doing is making a real difference.


People Who Volunteer Are Happier!Group of happy Volunteers - Ziggy Belle

There have been studies done that found volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer – doctors should recommend it!

Volunteers have reported a kind of “helper’s high”, a powerful physical and emotional feeling experienced when directly helping others. They say that just a few hours of volunteer work results in a difference in happiness and mood.

 

Connected Volunteers - Ziggy Belle

Volunteers Are More Social!

 

 

The Volunteering Australia Survey also found that there is a heightened sense of community involvement within a group of volunteers which creates strong connections and lifelong friendships.

Volunteers Help the Economy

There is a massive value of volunteering to the economy and many not for profit organisations would not be able to survive if it weren’t for the dedicated work that volunteers provide.

According to Volunteering Qld, in 2014, formal voluntary work in Queensland is estimated to have been worth $4.6 billion!!

These are really mind blowing statistics. 

As Volunteer Week draws to a close we would like to highlight the work of the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge which is a cause that is close to the heart of Ziggy & I. Ziggy is a rescue cat and I cannot imagine what would have happened to her if an organisation like SCARS didn’t step in and give her a second chance at life.

First Time Visiting Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge - Ziggy Belle

Me outside the Cat enclosure at SCARS - Ziggy Belle

What is SCARS?

Short for Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge, SCARS was established in 1979 to provide temporary refuge and then to find new homes for abandoned, abused stray and unwanted cats & dogs.

They are an independent, not for profit, charitable organisation. They have a strict non-euthanasia policy.

The refuge is managed by an unpaid committee and run by a small team of staff. The rest is made up of a large group of dedicated volunteers. 

SCARS currently has a group of over 200 volunteers and they assist with caring for the animals, cleaning out pens, rehoming, maintenance, gardening and mowing, administration, marketing and external fundraising activities. 

Group Shot SCARS volunteers - Ziggy Belle

SCARS are always in need of reliable and dedicated volunteers so if you are interested in helping out click on the link below to apply.

Volunteers - http://www.sippycreek.com.au/volunteers

Two of the volunteers from SCARS that I have had the pleasure to meet are Courtney and Penny.

Courtney works in the cat enclosure and also takes photographs of the animals to be displayed on the website for adoption. Penny is the President SCARS and she organises all the fundraising and marketing activities. 

I decided to interview them and another volunteer Felicity, who I am yet to meet, to find out exactly what they love about volunteering and why they chose to Volunteer at SCARS.

 

Courtney SCARS Volunteer - Ziggy Belle

Meet Courtney she volunteers for the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge and Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast.

1. How did you get into volunteering at scars?

I was getting frustrated with studying because I thought that I had to wait till I became a qualified veterinarian to help animals. I realised that wasn’t true and I started googling animal shelters on the Sunshine Coast and SCARS popped up. I filled out a volunteer application form and was emailed my date for my volunteer induction. I remember that day so clearly. I’m quite a shy person and this was definitely out of my comfort zone but I knew I wanted to volunteer for SCARS and I knew I wanted to help animals. All I needed was 20 seconds of courage to walk through that gate and my life changed. 

2. How long have you been volunteering at scars?

A year and a half.

3.What do you love about volunteering at scars? 

For the first time in my life, I’ve found my people. We come from all different backgrounds and all different ages and I was so worried that being one of the youngest that I wouldn’t connect with anyone. I was wrong. We all connect on such a deep level through our love and passion for animal welfare and that’s a connection I’ve never had before. I’m grateful for the connections I’ve made with both staff and volunteers and the beautiful animals. I’m proud of the person I’ve become today and I thank SCARS for that, for growing my confidence and being surrounded by love and warmth. 

4.Have you adopted a pet from scars? 

Almost! There’s been two animals, a dog and a cat that when I met them, I felt that connection and you just know they should come home with you. However, I already have a dog named Patch who’s a 15 year old Tenterfield terrier who wouldn’t be too happy with me if I brought someone home (he enjoys being an only child). Both went home with other volunteers so I’m happy to receive updates and photos. 

5.Do you have a full time job and if so, how do you fit your volunteering work in to your life?

I have two. I run my own pet photography business whilst also volunteering for another organisation Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast, both these things I never would have had the confidence to do before SCARS. I truly love what I do and I couldn’t imagine not working with animals so the late nights editing photos, odd hours rescuing possums and the stress of driving up and down the coast every day is worth it to me. Despite how much less convenient it’s become to volunteer at SCARS since relocating to Noosa I still wouldn’t quit. There’s truly something about this organisation that makes people like me wake up at 5am to drive 40 minutes to start a 6am shift in the middle of winter or come in on my weekends. And that goes for all the other volunteers and staff as well. Everyone goes above and beyond their duties and it’s because of the passion and heart of SCARS. 

Penny with one of the beautiful pussy cats at SCARS - Ziggy Belle

Meet Penny she is a nurse but is also the President and Marketing Manager of the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge. She has been volunteering for the refuge for 14 years.

1.How did you get into volunteering at scars? 

I moved to the coast in 2006 and found an add in the local freebie and applied. I walked in and never left. I initially volunteered every Sunday as I worked full time as a nurse.

2.How long have you been volunteering at scars? 

This is my 14th year and I have always loved animals and just wanted to give back to the community. I am already a nurse so wanted my volunteering to be with animals. As soon as I met the animals I was hooked and I loved the SCARS ethos, I don’t think I could volunteer for a shelter that put animals down.

3.What do you love about volunteering at scars? 

I love helping to rehome the cats and dogs. I love telling their stories and sharing our fur babies with the community and potential new owners. I love taking them out to meet the public and telling their stories to everyone who wants to listen I also love raising the awareness of our animals and making SCARS more well known in the community and afar!

I love “bringing Pets and People Together…forever”

4.Have you adopted a pet from scars? 

Yes three times now! A chihuahua named Pippa, who is now 13. We adopted her when she was 5 year old. A schnauzer cross named Zohan adopted as a 6 year old he is now 10. Most recently Rocket she is a 1 year old chihuahua we adopted as a puppy.

5.Do you have a full time job and if so, how do you fit your volunteering work in to your life?

I work in healthcare still – not quite full time but close. I do most of my SCARs things after hours and on my days off. Volunteering at SCARS is my passion and the animals are what drives me and keeps me wanting to do more and as much as I can to help find them forever homes!

And its just so worthwhile when I see them with their new families..that’s the only reward I need and all of us at SCARS need…to see the happy faces of our fur kids when they get adopted and to see the follow up photos their new owners send in – showing how loved they are and how well they have settled in. …its Priceless

Felicity with a kitty cat ready for adoption from SCARS - Ziggy Belle

Meet Felicity who has been volunteering at SCARS since 2006. She works with the cats and kittens and has even spent a lot of time fostering. 

1.How did you get into volunteering at scars? 

I wanted to work with animals but I didn’t know how I could make that work.

After searching I found SCARS I loved  the idea of a rescue and when I saw they had a Non Euthanise Policy that was also very important to me 

2.How long have you been volunteering at scars? 

So in April 2006 I began volunteering and I haven’t looked back and I am still volunteering  14 years later and hope to for many years to come.

3.What do you love about volunteering at scars? 

I help to look after these animals (I work with cats) giving them the care, love and attention they need until they go up for adoption. Many cats and kittens have come through the refuge and some need a little more TLC than others and when they get adopted its even more special.

When the cats get adopted and given a second chance that is reward in itself, it is what makes volunteering so special for me.

For roughly 10 years I have also fostered ( only kittens) and that too has been so enjoyable and an amazing part of volunteering  but it has come with a couple of sad moments which is not easy by any means but it is part of rescue and it hasn’t stopped me from volunteering.

I love that I get to work with a great team of Volunteers & staff who all not only  share the love of animals but do it  in many different ways .

4.Have you adopted a pet from scars? 

Yes my cats were adopted form the refuge  they were about 9 months old at the  time , the eldest will be 11 this year.  One of my two dogs I also adopted from the refuge 9 years ago  and he has just turned 12.

5.Do you have a full time job and if so, how do you fit your volunteering work in to your life?

Up to 10 years ago I worked in retail and I was able to Volunteer every Saturday, now I have my own business so I am able to do an extra shift which I love. I think when you are passionate about something its all the drive you need, I love what I do and I love giving my time to the refuge.

Calico Cat Photo by Amiya Nanda Canva - Ziggy Belle

So it seems that the stats from the Volunteers Australia Survey are true. Volunteering is more than just giving away your time for free. There is a deep emotional experience connected with altruistic behaviour. 

Courtney found a connection with likeminded people and has gained a confidence that she didn’t have before she started volunteering. Penny is so passionate about animals and helping them to find their forever homes that she describes the work she does as “priceless.” Felicity highlights the joy of working with animals and giving her time to doing something she loves and working with a great team of volunteers.

I think there really is something magical about becoming a volunteer. Add working with animals into the mix and that really makes devoting your time worthwhile and special.

Thank you to Penny, Courtney & Felicity for sharing your stories about your Volunteering work.

Thank you again to all the wonderful volunteers at SCARS for the dedication of helping to:

“Bring Pets and People Together…forever”

Meow For Now 😺🐾

Ziggy & Sonya

High Five Photo by Snapwire Canva - Ziggy Belle

References:

 

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