Back in June I was searching for ways our CYL team could have a team-building adventure AND participate in a volunteer activity. In my search, I stumbled upon Hands On Asheville, a program of the United Way of Asheville, which brings people together to volunteer meaningfully in our surrounding town and county. It was perfect timing: Hands On Asheville was in the planning stages for their annual Day of Caring, a day when volunteer groups are paired up with service projects benefiting local nonprofits, schools, and public organizations.
I signed our team up, and shortly afterward I was contacted by Sarah Wohlmuth, the Hands On Asheville-Buncombe Director. She explained that they had a project proposal we might be especially interested in: Brother Wolf Animal Rescue was hoping to find a team of volunteers who would help brighten up the lobby of their shelter. Support for animals AND a mural project? Perfect. Count us in.
Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is a no-kill animal shelter with an active foster program, a vibrant community presence, and a thrift store called Pet Soup (all proceeds benefit BWAR). Helping us work through the logistics of our service day was Lauren Tarantino, Brother Wolf’s Volunteer Coordinator—Lauren helped me figure out the details of our work and relayed everything about the service day between us and all the folks at BWAR.
Lauren explained that their pre-existing lobby needed a facelift–what ideas did we have?
Our team had a couple brainstorm sessions about how we’d like to convey the mission of Brother Wolf visually on their wall. In the end, we decided on a design that prioritized their logo and a representation of pets actually helped by their program—we found the three dogs and one kitten on the BWAR Facebook page! I translated their photos into a paint-by-number plan that would be easy for us to complete in one day.
Here’s a sample of how a sweet dog photo was translated into a paint-by-number key and eventual final project:
The day was wonderful. We met up at the shelter early Thursday morning and began projecting our designs through transparencies on the wall.
As soon as a design was transferred, someone would begin painting and we’d move on to projecting the next image. Throughout it all, the Brother Wolf employees and volunteers continued their work, and their “office dogs” trotted around the ladders and paint stations–very helpful little critters! Our team had a chance to work together on a project that had nothing to do with publishing deadlines and everything to do with creativity, mutual support, and contributing meaningful energy to our community. I am so thankful to work with such incredible people.
If we didn’t each already have dogs (or in Travis’s case, twin boys, which is a lot like having puppies), we probably would have driven away with our cars full of Brother Wolf pups and kitties. What we did drive away with, however, was a profound sense of appreciation for the many people involved with Brother Wolf—employees and volunteers, alike—who devote their time, compassion, knowledge, and activism to helping our four-footed (and sometimes feathered and scaled) friends find forever homes.
As you probably know, it really tugs at your heart to recognize that all the animals you see in an animal shelter (and all the fostered ones you don’t see) are without homes. It’s especially difficult if you’re not able to adopt a pet at the moment but you feel compelled (like I did) to take every single one of them home with you. The next best thing is volunteering—give those dogs and cats the benefit of your compassion by sharing your time with a local shelter. Walk dogs; play with kittens; help feed and clean and organize and whatever else you can do to contribute to the well-being of these animals: the subsequent tail-wagging and purring is wonderful beyond measure.
Want to know more about Brother Wolf?
Here’s their home page: http://www.bwar.org/
A link to their Volunteer Opportunities page: http://www.bwar.org/volunteer
And a link to their Events page: http://www.bwar.org/events
If you live in the Asheville area, keep an eye on The Hop ice cream shop, which not only serves dog ice cream (yep, you read that correctly—ice cream just for dogs) but also hosts events during which a percentage of specific days’ proceeds are donated to Brother Wolf. Here’s their blog.
You don’t live near Brother Wolf, but you want to investigate animal rescue groups in your local area? Check out Petfinder.com, a database of adoptable animals, rescue/shelter groups, and training/lifestyle/pet health resources for all current and future pet owners. Same thing for Petango.com—it allows you to search for animal rescue organizations in your area.
Feel particularly attached to a specific breed of dog? The AKC (American Kennel Club) hosts a database of Breed Rescue Groups across the country. (ps: does anyone else think these little Brussels Griffon dogs are the funniest things ever?)
(And, because I can’t help myself and I have a super soft spot in my heart for boxers, click to learn about the Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue group based in NC, SC, and parts of VA)
A quick recap:
Want to see a slideshow of more photos from our service day? Here you go (three little slideshows):