Volunteering can start at any age and to graduate in Ontario you actually have to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours to graduate high school. I personally spent a lot of time in homeless shelters and nursing homes, because I never realized there were animal shelters that needed extra hands.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to an amazing 15-year-old individual who is doing the work I wish I did as a kid. Rhea, before I interview you I want to thank you so much for choosing to work with the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue. From this 25-year-old individual, your work is really appreciated and I’m so glad you’re starting early, you’re a butt-kicking awesome individual!
Rhea, do you mind letting our readers know about you?
Here are a few facts about me:
I am 15 years old and going into grade 10, I enjoy babysitting for neighbourhood families and I am artistic and love to paint, draw and bake elaborate cakes for family birthdays.
It’s awesome to see such a young person already volunteering for a rescue, can you tell us a little bit about why you started?
Being with cats makes me feel happy and relaxed so you can imagine why volunteering would give me so much pleasure. To care for and love cats and then see them go to their forever home is an amazing feeling which is why I enjoy every volunteer shift and every adoptathon that the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue has.
Are you a pet owner yourself and if so, what kind of pets?
Yes, I currently own three cats whom I love so much. There is my cat, Jakey, a beautiful brown tabby who is adorable and affectionate and is 17 years old, then there is my 7 year old tuxedo cat, Lila, who is shy but loving and my 3 year old and my youngest, Riley, who is cute and intelligent.
Before I volunteered, I fostered for the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue and the first cat we got was Minnie who was pregnant with Riley. After she was born, we absolutely fell in love with her and adopted her.
What has been the most exciting thing about volunteering for a rescue?
I’ve had some really great times with the rescue that I would describe as exciting; for example, every time new cats would arrive in the enclosure or another adoptathon I could take part in or hearing that another cat has been adopted which makes my day every time.
What does a day look like volunteering with the rescue?
Normally a shift includes cleaning the enclosure and making sure it is nice for the cats and potential adopters who come in to visit the cats. I give them lots of love by petting them, playing with them and feeding them food and sometimes treats. I also talk to potential adopters about the cats and the adoption process.
What has been the scariest part about volunteering?
I don’t think anything is scary about volunteering. At first talking to so many people was odd for me but now I enjoy meeting and talking to new people. Another thing you have to get used to is being on display because of the giant window that is open to the outside.
Has there been a life-changing moment for you at the rescue?
Over the past three years fostering and volunteering for the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue, I have met so many new people and built strong relationships within the community. I enjoy meeting new people and being able to say, “oh hi, nice to see you again,” when they come back to see the cats.
How did you find out about the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue?
When I was twelve, my mom and I saw that there was an adoptathon at Pet Smart, so naturally we went inside and happened to meet Laura. After talking for a little while, it wasn’t too long before we signed up to become foster parents. We fostered for about six months before deciding that fostering wasn’t for us and my mom suggested that I could continue helping cats if I were to volunteer, so she emailed Laura who trusted me enough to let me start volunteering. I think after seeing the fully decked-out cat room I decorated for the cats we fostered, she knew I would do the same for the cats at the enclosure.
Is there anything you want to leave our readers off with?
Sometimes the question comes up, “why do you still volunteer?” I really only get this question from people at my school because high school students only need 40 hours to graduate, but it still comes up. My answer to this question is, because it makes me so happy. Being able to spend time helping other living beings, seeing them thrive and go off to their forever homes; meeting new people and taking part in my community, just reminds me why I volunteer. After being with the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue, I know I have become more social, less stressed and a better version of myself. I love volunteering because of how I can make a difference for myself and for those around me.