Sunday, August 12, 2012

The next chapter in my story.

Have you noticed that no matter how much planning you do, life works out its own way?  I am always amazed at how that happens!

We have experienced a lot of change in the last couple months.  On July 1, we sold one of our stores. I worked there until the beginning of August.  Last Monday was my first day not being there.  The week before, I had been hired as a cycling/spin instructor at the local gym.  We had some plans for how I would spend my time - marketing the business, taking care of our pets, teaching as many cycling classes as I could, taking care of our training groups.

Last week, we also became a foster home for the Humane Society for SW Washington and have already had one set of cats to nurse back to health.  We are onto our third kitty now and loving it.   Trevor and I have wanted to be more involved in animal rescue and have talked a lot about that over the last year.

I find that so many of my friends and the pages I like on facebook have something to do with animals.  I love scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing all that!  A couple weeks ago, I saw a posting on the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society's facebook page for a Volunteer Services Manager.  Two years ago, I would not have given this job a second thought.  In fact, I probably would have said "I don't want to work with volunteers." Now, I looked at it and thought "I could do that".  I talked to Trevor about it and he told me to apply.

Three years ago, we started putting on events - it started with a half marathon, then we added a triathlon and a 5k.  I am the race director for those and handle all the volunteers.  While I have never considered myself a people person, I realized that I was actually really good at dealing with volunteers. I was able to recruit and retain them.  Last year, I was asked to be on the race committee for the Vancouver USA Marathon and when the race director started assigning duties, he asked if I would be the volunteer coordinator.  This took things to a whole different level.  My events required 50-75 volunteers, his would require about 400.  I wasn't so sure how that would go, but I said I would do it.  It was like second nature to me.  All the organizing and communication, planning and adjusting was right up my alley. The truth was, I really enjoyed it.

At the beginning of this year, I was approached by Rev3, a company from Virginia that puts on triathlons all over the country.  They have one in Portland and they needed a local volunteer coordinator. They asked if I was interested.  I interviewed and was hired in January.  The event was in July, so I spent the better part of this year recruiting volunteers.  Again, I found that it was second nature and I really enjoyed it.  We had over 400 volunteers for that event too.  I'm their local person and will be doing this same job for next years event as well.

Turns out that working with volunteers is one of my things.  I would never have thought that would be the case, but it is and I'm good with that.

Then, there are the animals.  I have always loved animals.  Always.  Trevor is the same way.  We have often talked about being move involved in animals rescue, we just weren't sure how and didn't think we had the time.  Three years ago, we adopted Maggie, who is a pitbull.  Because of her, we became very aware of many animal rights issues - from Breed Specific Legislation to dog fighting.  We started dipping our toes into the water of animal rescue.

Last year, we adopted Asha and learned about many other animal rights issues - from bad breeding, again dog fighting and rescue.  We were really feeling the pull, like we needed to jump into the water.  There are a lot of things that happen to animals and they are very difficult to know.  Most of my life has been spent ignoring those things because I felt they were too horrible to know. I know some of those things and they ARE too horrible to know, but they also cannot be ignored any longer.

A while back, I started following some people on facebook who are animal fosters and I have seen some the of dogs they have saved.  I have watched them nurse sad pups back to health and seen scared, timid dogs grin from ear to ear after being saved.  There were two dogs that pushed me over the edge.  One was named Myrtle.  The foster mom is located in Georgia.  The shelter there contacted all the fosters and asked them to take any dogs they could because the shelter was full and they needed to make room. If the dogs weren't taken, they would most likely be put down.  This foster mom went and took Myrtle home.  This face...I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Shortly after this, another dog came to live with this foster mom.  Her name was Rae.  Rae had been abused badly.  Her previous owners were being prosecuted.  They had poured acid on her back. They had also kept her in a kennel outside, never letter her be used in dog fighting.  You see, its common practice to take a bait dog and pour battery acid on them (because its cheap).  That way, they have open wounds and when they put that dog in the ring with a fighting dog they are trying to train, it hurts to move or be touched and so its more likely to fight back.  When I heard that about Rae, I cried.  I sat at my computer and sobbed.  It was then, that I knew.

That day, I sent an email to the local Humane Society's asking how we could become a foster home.  I could no longer sit back and hope that others would give of their time, money and love to help these animals. I needed to do something. I knew I could never save them all, but I needed to save at least one.

So when I saw the job posting for the volunteer manager job at the animal shelter, it was as if the universe was speaking to me. "Now is the time".  I wasn't sure I had the qualifications they wanted, but I applied anyway.  I was called in for an interview. It was the best interview of my life.  We sat in the cat room at the shelter and I had a cat sit on my lap for over an hour while I talked with the shelter director.

I've been to many interviews in my life.  My dad always told me to dress up.  When I was in high school and went to interview at a bakery for a part time job, he made me wear a skirt!  So I dressed nice for the interview.  A black shirt and teal sweater.  I was going to wear a skirt, but I have tattoos on my leg and I didn't want to not get a job because of that, so I wore back pants.  The cat, who sat on my lap, was all white. I was COVERED in cat hair.  And I didn't care one bit.

Before I left, I was asked back for a 2nd interview and I gladly accepted. I spent the next couple days trying not to get too excited, in case I didn't get the job, but boy....did I want that job.  I have had a couple different career paths in my life.  For a lot of years, I had a great job that paid a lot of money. I had tons of stuff and no purpose.  I had sales award and honors...and who was better for that?  What did that do to make my world a better place. I always struggled with that, with the question "what's the point".

The second interview went great. When the director asked me to come back again, she told me that she appreciated the effort but I could dress in shelter clothes when I came back!  Oh and she has tattoos.  When I went back on Friday I was in jeans.  A different cat sat on my lap and while I was there, the cat (named Kat) from my first interview got adopted. It was so great! I told Sassy (that cat on my lap during the second interview) that she was next, I must have a lucky lap.

Every story has chapters.  Each life is a story, full of different chapters.  Any good story takes twists and turns, it has drama, high points and low points.  A good story is unpredictable and makes you want to keep turning the pages to see where it takes you.  That is how I am feeling about the story of my life right now, like I don't want to put it down, I just have to know what happens next.  This week I start my new job as the part time Volunteer Services Manager at the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. Its not glamorous or prestigious to most of the world, but it is to me and I don't think I have ever been more proud of myself for being hired somewhere.

I know this won't be easy, I know there will be heart ache and disappointment. Let's face it, the world is a cruel sad place.  At the same time, the worst in people can bring out the best in others and I look forward to seeing lots of the good.  Here's the link to the WCGHS....I work there now :)   


Hyacinth said...

Wow, congratulations! Your new job like a perfect fit for you :) I've been involved in animal rescue for over 6 years now and with all the highs and low and heartache and happiness, I wouldn't trade a minute of it...we can't save them all, but we sure can try to save as many as we can :)

luckytiff said...

Congratulations! You will be a perfect fit for the job. I just can't believe some of the horrible thing people do to animals. Our dog is part of the family and I couldn't bear to see any harm come to her. Myrtle and Rae's stories are heartbreaking but sure nice to see them smiling now! Good luck on this amazing new opportunity!