A Safe Place to Volunteer and Make a Difference

By Julie Madden

Co-Founder, EEC

It’s cleaning week again at Encore – our quarterly deep scrubbing of the whole building, on top of our Friday weekly cleaning routine. We’ve always been a bit obsessed about keeping the building sanitized and safe, for dogs and the people who work with them. That obsession works for COVID, too.

Some of our great volunteers have returned since we re-opened after closing due to COVID this spring, but not all of them. And we sure do miss them. Volunteers at Encore do lots of different things, but the biggest thing is working with the shelter dogs. They take them out to poop and play. They sit with the fearful ones to help them learn that not all people are scary. They walk the leash pullers and introduce toys to dogs that don’t know what a ball or stuffed squeaky squirrel even is.

Our volunteers help in other ways, too. Some folks work on specific projects around the building like painting or fixing broken fences. Some help write receipts or file paperwork. Some take pictures of the dogs or clean dog bowls and toys.

We need volunteers with a wide variety of skills, especially now. We are fortunate that we have enough room to spread people and pups out a good social distance. We have sinks in every classroom so it’s easy to wash your hands (we do that after working with each dog). And we have disposable masks so when folks are doing dog training in close quarters, we make sure everyone is wearing one.

Of course, we can’t guarantee that you’d never get exposed to COVID at Encore (or anywhere else you decide to go these days). Nothing is 100% risk free. We all have to weigh the benefits of our actions against the risk that go with it. I will tell you that working with shelter dogs brings me a sense of joy and accomplishment that keeps me going when things get tough. It might do the same for you.

Please think about signing up to volunteer at Encore. We provide an orientation session and if you are working with dogs, you will shadow a staffer until you feel comfortable with our procedures. And if you can’t volunteer during the week days, you could still help with our occasional Saturday projects and fundraising events.

Here’s the link to our online application form. I hope to hear from you soon!