When is a Volunteer More Than a Volunteer?

by KB Spector, Gifford volunteer

Betsy and David DeLorenzo, siblings who have been with Gifford for over six months, not only spend quality time with our residents every Wednesday morning, but became part of our family of adopters – before they had even finished their training.  A volunteer is more than a volunteer when they rescue a life.

It all started when Betsy, recovering from a car accident, was looking for a place for her and her brother to relax and get away from the world. Knowing that David loved cats, an internet search turned up a convenient volunteer opportunity.  Something to do with his sister, volunteering has also helped David with social interaction, which is not always the easiest for him.  He now actively checks the website and kitty cams, conversing regularly about the cats. The volunteer work has given him plenty to talk about too, given our residents’ wonderful personalities.  In David’s words, what he loves the most is “wondering which new cats will show up”, and equally adores the cats and the kittens.

David can be found rescuing the naughty cats that climb a bit too far, and is brave enough to lie on the floor and accept affectionate head-butting from Mandy, a long-time Gifford cat who is bit sassy . A volunteer is more than a volunteer when they are Mandy-approved!

For her part, Betsy has found the volunteer work a stress reliever as everything dissolves away when she is at the shelter. Having a steady conversation with her brother about which cats they are excited to see and who might have gone home has been a gift. And she has found particular joy with the Feline Charm School cats like Fifi, and Overlord – whom she has successfully lured into social interaction with treats. A volunteer is more than a volunteer when they can out-charm a Charm Schooler.

Early on, the duo decided to adopt one of Gifford’s cats, not a kitten, definitely not a kitten, and sought a pet exception from their landlord. A short time later, they arrived home with…a kitten! Recently, Betsy has begun taking classes on animal-assisted therapy and animal training. So it has come full circle for the siblings and their adopted kitten Rocko (Rocky), who is now clicker-trained and can high-five, sit and stand up on command.

Thank you, Betsy and David DeLorenzo, for being volunteers who are more than volunteers!

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