Each month we highlight a volunteer to share the incredible range of work that our volunteers do and to say thank you to them for giving their time. We could not do the important work that we do for the animals with out help from our dedicated volunteers. Take a glimpse into what they love about being part of our volunteer team.
PSPCA’s June Volunteer of the Month is Nicole Beckman! A native of Virginia Beach, Nicole discovered volunteering at the Peninsula SPCA while she was a student at Christopher Newport University. Nicole says her favorite thing about volunteering is “the look on the person’s face when they’ve decided they’re going to adopt an animal. It’s the look of trying to contain their joy which results in a giddy smile.” Her other favorite thing is meeting Avalanche, a three-year-old shelter dog she has grown very fond of. She says, “he has stolen my heart with his goofy smile” and she “can’t wait to be employed and to get my own place so I can finally bring him home!”
Nicole has one dog Tasha, a 12-year-old, sassy, Lab/Boxer mix. “I’ve had her since she was nine months old and I can’t imagine growing up without her.” According to Nicole she loves to lay in the neighbor’s sprinklers when going on walks and will even dunk her head in muddy puddles at the park. “She is spoiled rotten and has me whipped, but I wouldn’t trade her for the world and I hope she gets along with Avalanche (they’d be so cute together!)”
Nicole’s love for animals must be obvious to her friends and family! She has a fun thing she does with the greeting cards they give her: “I collect all the cards I’m given and hang them over my bead. Over the years it has turned into a card shrine for dogs!”
If you were to ask Nicole about volunteering at PSPCA, she would say “DO IT!” “There is no better way to get away from school or work than to play and pet dogs for a few hours. And the staff and other volunteers are fun to world with. I wish I hadn’t waited until my last semester at CNU to start volunteering.”
Nicole recently graduated from CNU and is looking for employment. Let’s hope someone sees how great she is soon! Congratulations Nicole and thanks for all of your hard work!!!
PSPCA’s May Volunteer of the month is Jean Cox. Jean is from Newport News originally and can’t remember a time that the Peninsula SPCA wasn’t around. She has volunteered an amazing 880 hours! Her favorite parts of volunteering are seeing the cats go home, and when adopters come back with stories about how well the cats or dogs are doing in their new homes. Jean has two cats: Ziggy and Lexie, they’re both rescues! Lexie is very shy and Ziggy is very friendly and curious. Jean comes from a social worker background and decided that she prefers working with animals!
When asked what she would say to someone who is interested in volunteering, she addresses peoples’ concerns that they would want to take all the animals home. Jean wants you to know that once you see them go to a good home you will feel much better that you can’t take them all home. Thank you Jean for all of your hard work!
PSPCA’s April Volunteer of the Month is Mike Lalonde, aka “Pit Bull!” Mike can be seen volunteering in the kennels or accompanying staff on outreaches.
Mike’s favorite part of volunteering is helping animals along in their journey to a new home. He has three dogs right now: Misfit (our volunteer Spokes-Pit) a two year old pit bull, Little Bit, his three year old min pin, and Jem, whom he is fostering!
Mike has great advice for those who may be interested in volunteering: “You will see animals come in that have seen better days, and it does not help showing your anger or displeasure. The best thing you can do for them is smile and make them feel safe.”
We look forward to seeing Mike’s smile every time he volunteers. Thank you for all that you do for the PSPCA!
PSPCA’s March Volunteers of the Month is mother/son duo Matt & Nell Twiggs, who enjoy helping out in the Petting Zoo. Residents of York County for nearly 13 years, Nell is retired from the US Air Force. They learned about PSPCA from friends at church who were volunteering at the shelter with dogs. Their favorite part about volunteering is getting to know the goats and their different personalities. They have one dog at home – Gus – who is a black and tan Coon Hound that was adopted from the Isle of Wight SPCA.
They really enjoy attending sports events (professional and college) with their family. “We are currently on a mission of trying to visit all 32 Major League baseball stadiums,” says Nell. They plan to head out west on spring break to visit the AZ Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants, and the Oakland A’s.
PSPCA’s February Volunteer of the Month is Jim Chamberlain. Originally from Florida, Jim came to the Tidewater area in 1982 as a graduate student, and now calls Virginia home. He is a pilot and loves to fly. He flew two radio traffic announcers around the Tidewater area for years as a part-time job, as well as some charter and business jet work, aerial photography and even dropped skydivers.
He and his wife Patti had known about the PSPCA for years, often bringing their children to the petting zoo. Jim started volunteering at PSPCA in 2015 when he lost his beloved dog Zeus to heart failure. “It’s something I’d thought about doing for a long time but losing Zeus got me beyond good intentions,” says Chamberlain.
Jim loves that the PSPCA is now adoption-guarantee. “It makes ‘disappearing animals’ between visits a happy occasion,” says Chamberlain, “because you know they’ve moved on to their new forever homes.” Jim enjoys spending time walking and playing with the dogs, but by far his favorite part is matching up dogs with new adopters and watching the dog head out the front door with its new family!
In fact, Jim recently played matchmaker for himself when he adopted Jacob, a two-year-old Lab/Pit/Pointer mix, from the PSPCA. According to Jim, Jacob has made himself right at home. “He loves to play, walk, take rides, join us for lunch/dinner on dog-friendly restaurant patios and just generally join in with family activities. He’s great with kids and other dogs and has already been hiking in the mountains with us. I can tell he loves the water (he’s asked me more than once while on the Noland Trail) but swimming will have to wait for warmer weather and some off-leash training. It’s good to have a dog in the house again!”
What advice does Jim have for folks who may be interested in volunteering? “Go for it, it’s a noble endeavor! All of the PSPCA animals are deserving of love and attention while they wait for new homes. I predict you will feel really good about the time you donate to this very worthy cause.”
We at the PSPCA just think the world of Jim. He has the biggest heart and we are proud to have him on our team!
Jakia “Kia” Moore is from Hampton and started volunteering at the PSPCA after the passing of her mother. She says, “I felt horrible and lost.” She heard about the PSPCA’s volunteer program and all of the pros that came with it. “For a small moment in the day, I feel like I have found my new purpose,” she says. Her favorite experience was being the stage manager at the shelter’s Paws for a Cause fundraiser in September. But on any given day you can find “Kia” giggling in the kennels as she plays, massages, or trains the PSPCA’s adoptable dogs. As a fitness instructor she appreciates good exercise, and she uses these talents with the dogs in the enrichment areas at the shelter, whether it be running laps or playing ball. She really enjoys loving on the animals and even though she doesn’t have pets of her own because of her busy work schedule, she feels like she has tons of pets by volunteering at the PSPCA. “I highly encourage anyone who wants a new purpose in life to volunteer at the SPCA. I am glad I followed my broken heart that led me to an experience filled with respect, caring staff, fun volunteers, curious animals and events where I can be with a loving animal that hugs and kisses on me the whole time.” For Kia, her experience volunteering has been a healing one. “I love and need this feeling in my life in order to heal because I believe pets change people!”
Lexi Johnson-Young is from Hampton, VA and has already donated over 30 hours in the short two months she has been volunteering at the Peninsula SPCA. Her favorite part of volunteering here is getting to interact with new faces every day, and the hard part is not being able to take all of them home! Lexi has two Pit Bulls, Brownie and Pedro, three fish, Huey, Duey, and Grumpy, and a bearded dragon! When Lexi isn’t volunteering with us or in culinary school, she likes to make dog treats. Her advice to someone interested in volunteering at the Peninsula SPCA, “It’s a great and fun opportunity to work here! Not only do you get more info, see new faces, interact with animals and enjoy what you do, it also gives you experience which looks good on any resume!”
Clayton Cooper has been volunteering with us since April and has already donated 100 hours! He is a native of Newport News and his favorite part of volunteering at the PSPCA is interacting with the dogs and finding them good homes. He has a gorgeous white German Shepherd and a parakeet at home. In addition to animals, Clayton also loves anything sports related! When asked what he would say to someone who is interested in volunteering at the PSPCA he said, “If you love animals it is rewarding to spend time with animals who need some love and to hopefully find them a home.”
Meet Cait Good, our September volunteer of the month! Cait is from Michigan. She heard about the PSPCA volunteer program when she adopted her two dogs, Luna and Soul, from the shelter. Luna is a Border Collie mix and Soul is a Lab/Chow/Shepherd mix. Both are adorable troublemakers. She calls herself a “geeky NAVY wife” who enjoys making new friends at the shelter. The best part of volunteering is “watching the cats get new homes. It’s wonderful.”
Meet Jennifer and Rhiannon, our August volunteers of the month seen here with Zeus! They are a mother/daughter team that joined us recently and bring joy to the animals each day they come. Precious, our Moluccan cockatoo is especially fond of Rhiannon! Their favorite part of volunteering is facilitating adoptions and seeing animals find their forever homes. Jennifer is an herbalist and animal Reiki practitioner, and Rhiannon knows a lot of German! Jennifer would advise future volunteers to, “Go for it. It is hard work but making a difference in the lives of the animals is so worth it.” Rhiannon however has difference advice, “Try your best not to go home with 5 new animals.” Thank you both for all of your hard work!!!!
Meet Elizabeth Narney, our July Volunteer of the Month! She is a CNU student, and has been in the Hampton Roads area for about eleven years. Her favorite part of volunteering is not only the animals but the humans she works with who are truly passionate about what they do! She has two cats, Emma and Lacey, and four fish (three of her fish are rescues, too!) Elizabeth’s advice for someone thinking about volunteering at the PSPCA would be, “Definitely go for it! It’s worth the effort when you see someone take home a forever friend.”
Congratulations to Logan, our volunteer of the month!
Logan is a local resident of Newport News who heard about volunteering at the Peninsula SPCA through his parents. Logan enjoys volunteering here because he gets to make new friends, both animals and humans. He loves learning about animals because he wants to become a veterinarian. Logan has two pets of his own, a beagle mix named Bella and a tortoise named April, both Peninsula SPCA alumni! A fun fact about Logan is that he competed in a 50-mile race consisting of hiking, biking, and canoeing with his Boy Scout Troop. Logan’s advice to someone who is interested in volunteering is “Love animals and don’t be afraid to get dirty.”
Congratulations to Andy Kenyon! Andy was nominated to be the volunteer of the month by one of the Assistant Kennel Managers. Why? Because he is always willing to help out with any project that we have going on, whether it be applying stain to tables in Lilly’s Den or cleaning up trash in the front of the building. Andy is a real team player.
Although Andy has had this honor before, but we are pleased to present it to him again and here is a little about what he has to say about volunteering with us. “It’s a privilege to work at the SPCA. What I like best about volunteering is being able to see so many dogs. It also feels good to know that what I do, though not a lot, is a help to the SPCA employees and the dogs in our community.”
Thank you Andy, we appreciate your help!
March 2013: Mickie Denny
Congratulations to Mickie Denney, the March volunteer of the month. Mickie helps out in various areas of the shelter and she also fosters many of our beloved pets. She is a gracious greeter, loving caregiver and gentle friend to the animals. In addition, Mickie as very efficient and pleasant to work with. We are very luck to have Mickie on our side!
February 2013: Kathryn Panko
Congratulations to Kathryn Panko, the January volunteer of the month. Kathy has been volunteering with us for over a year now and she is a true pleasure to have on our team.
Kathy is an avid dog lover and has spent endless hours walking, snuggling and helping get animals adopted. Our staff can count on Kathy’s help and superior matchmaking skills when a potential adopter is searching for a new pet. “I look forward to going to the PSPCA every week because I love working with all the dogs. I am always excited for the dogs when I discover they have found a happy new home with a great family.”
Thank you Kathy, for being a driving force with our adoption efforts and for always being someone we can count on.
December 2012: Becky Marcano
Becky has been a volunteer with us since October 2012 and in that short time she has made quite an impact! Our entire staff raves about Becky’s dedication and diligence. She is truly an amazing person and a very enthusiastic volunteer, we are very lucky that she has chosen to give her time to our animals.
“The Peninsula SPCA not only gives me the opportunity to do what I love, but also provides me with a physical workout and unconditional animal affection. Each day I am excited to walk through the door! I didn’t think anything could top the satisfaction that I get from volunteering, until Jasper found me. I rescued a handsome two year old male pit bull named Jasper to discover he really rescued my family, and I couldn’t ask for more. The Peninsula SPCA Rocks!”
And the Peninsula SPCA thinks Becky rocks too! Thank you for all that you do to help our animals feel special.
November 2012: Mayra Weisenburg
Mayra is what we would call a well-rounded volunteer, meaning she does it all! Mayra fosters lots of our animals with special needs, she helps customers on the adoption floor, she assists the animal care team with providing medication and extra special care and she helps out at offsite events! In the short time that Mayra has been a part of the SPCA Volunteer Team, she has managed to make herself a part of almost every aspect of the shelter. “I love volunteering at the shelter and being able to play with the all the animals I can’t have at home. Giving the animals love and attention to keep them well socialized and in good spirits makes me happy. All animals need to feel loved and wanted. I do the best job I can to help keep their environment clean so they can stay healthy and go to good homes.” Mayra is making a difference in the lives of our animals and they join us in giving her a BIG thank you for her commitment.
October 2012: Jim Clayton
Congratulations to Jim Clayton, September Volunteer of the Month! Jim has been an active and valuable member of our volunteer team for a year. Many of you may know Jim because he gives his time three days a week by assisting with front desk operations and providing customers, volunteers and staff members with assistance. Everyone on the SPCA Staff knows and appreciates Jim’s hard work and dedication!
Jim has not only also played a large role in the shelter, he has also greatly supported our donation box collection efforts! Jim has single-handedly collected over $500 in donations from fifteen locations on our behalf. We literally could not do this without his help. Thank you Jim, for all that you do to help the animals at the SPCA!
August 2012: Jean Cox
Congratulations to Jean Cox, our August Volunteer of the Month! Jean has been a valuable member of the volunteer team for just over a year. However, she came to the SPCA under sad circumstances. Jean lost her cat Sparky last year and was not quite ready to get another pet so she decided to volunteer and dedicate her time to animals in need. “I enjoy working in the cat room and learning about all the different cat personalities. I try to pay some attention to all of the cats while I am there. It’s great to see them find a family and go home.” We are very lucky to have Jean as part of our volunteer team. She is reliable and generous in many ways. Thank you so much for caring for our kitties each and every week
June 2012: Rebecca Taylor
Congratulations Rebecca Taylor, our June Volunteer of the Month! Rebecca’s favorite part about volunteering at the shelter is taking the dogs to offsite events.“I love showing people how sweet they are. They are so happy to be out of the kennels you can actually see the joy on their faces.” Rebecca has a passion for all dogs, but especially pit bulls, and has dedicated her life to advocating for them. She hopes to be able to show what great dogs they are when properly trained and socialized. “By learning social behavior and some basic obedience, my hope is that every SPCA dog will be adopted. Nothing makes me happier than finding a dog a forever home!” We are very fortunate to have Rebecca advocating for all of the animals in our care. Thank you for volunteering with us!
May 2012: Becky Davis
Congratulations Becki Davis, you have been chosen to be the May Volunteer of the Month! ” My favorite part of working with the SPCA has been attending off-site events. I love when a dog that I take to an event finds a forever home. I have fallen in love with so many of the animals that have come through the SPCA and I have learned that the stereotypes given to many breeds are not true. I hope that through my service at the SPCA more members of the Hampton Roads Area have gained a better understanding of these facts and have opened their homes to the wonderful animals that the SPCA takes in and cares for.” Becki has been instrumental in formalizing our offsite events and we cannot thank her enough for that and her many other contributions.
April 2012: Jennifer Austin
Congratulations Jen Austin, you have been chosen to be the April Volunteer of the Month! Many of you probably know Jen because she is a valuable member of the volunteer team and she assists with front desk operations once a week. But what you may not know is that Jen also helps with many other projects behind the scenes. She has run our Paws for a Cause and Fur Ball registration tables for several years, which is a huge job. Additionally, she assists with event planning and volunteer management at the events. I am not sure what a SPCA event registration table would be like with out her! We really appreciate her help in every area that she reaches.
“Jen is truly a great asset to the Peninsula SPCA and our mission to find a loving home for all adoptable animals in our serving area. You can tell her dedication in helping animals is very sincere and done from the heart. We love her.” – Don Branch, Assistant Executive Director.
March 2012: Andrea LeClair
Congratulations to Andrea LeClair, our March Volunteer of the Month! Andrea can mainly be found working with our adoptable dogs. She is a great asset to the SPCA. Andrea has touched the lives of many animals and people at the SPCA. “One thing I have enjoyed is meeting the other people who are passionate about the animals and finding them forever homes. It is inspiring to me to see so many people from different backgrounds working together to help provide a good life to the animals in the shelter. And it goes without saying that I love working with the animals too. I enjoy getting to know the dogs and their individual personalities, to help prospective owners find the right dog. I love taking dogs for walks and letting them stretch their legs a bit. I hope that by taking the dogs for walks I can get them comfortable on a leash and build their confidence in different situations.” Thank you for making our dogs feel loved!
February 2012: John Moore
Congratulations John Moore! You are the February Volunteer of the Month! John is a delightful member of the SPCA greeter team and we are very lucky to have him on board. “Every hour at Peninsula SPCA grants glimpses into Hampton Roads animal life. The visitors’ stories lift my spirits. Each car and truck brings at least one personal connection: eager youths seeking special new friends, donors delivering bedding, newsprint, food, and even toys. A friendly ‘Welcome!’ and uncluttered entrance are my donation! At times, I even get some exercise – walking a dog and carrying deliveries. Stewards of our created world have special responsibilities for earthly companions and each SPCA ‘shift’ reminds me that other citizens contribute time, talent and treasure to protect life. Busy persons reaching out to us and to the creatures in our charge, reward and touch me.”
Thank you John, for welcoming all of our guests with open arms. We are truly lucky to have you!