by Christine M.
When I decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter, it turned my life around in many positive ways.
Honestly, I was a little depressed and grieving for the life I had before my stroke. Before joining the Pennsylvania Society for Prevention Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA), my physical, occupational, and speech therapy was over, and I could not drive at that time. I was watching a lot of television like Law and Order reruns and Animal Cops. That is where I saw the Pennsylvania SPCA animal cops in Philadelphia, where I live.
I thought to myself, hey, maybe you can take public transit to the PSPCA and help animals instead of watching TV. I joined PSPCA in April 2017, intending to walk dogs. In the beginning, I worked in the laundry room, stuffed invitations into envelopes, and gave treats to the dogs. I took my time over six months of volunteering to take a dog out of its kennel. That was the beginning of a greater love of animals, particularly of dogs. The animals don’t care if you can’t speak well. They don’t care if you mess up your words. They accept you as you are.
I was surprised by how much I have gained from volunteering, much more than I ever imagined. Volunteering has helped me communicate with staff and other volunteers. In a sense, doing the laundry and dishes have replaced physical and occupational therapy. Also, the new friendships I have grown at the shelter have been wonderful. As I search for my new self-identity, I have found that I value PSPCA, animals, and myself more importantly.
If you are part of your journey and are asking to do something, consider volunteering. Volunteering can be at a library, food bank, homeless shelter, animal rescue, and many more. Get involved, give back and explore your passions.