2017 February Volunteer of the Month: Mary Beth Binns
Meet Mary Beth! She is one of only a few RASKC volunteers who have contributed over 1,000 foster hours each year for the two years and who has worked regular shifts at one of RASKC’s partner stores. Mary Beth, along with her daughter Scarlett, provided cat-care and customer service at RASKC inside of Kirkland Petco in 2015 and continue on as fill-in volunteers. Mary Beth and her family contributed about 1,800 foster hours last year.
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: We discovered RASKC while “shopping” at PETCO in Kirkland. My youngest daughter, Scarlett (11 years old), who has always been passionate about animals, begged to go to PETCO to visit the animals often. We would also visit rescue shelters, but PETCO had the advantage of being in my neighborhood and thus more accessible. We found the RASKC adoption center within the store soon after it opened.
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: My daughter Scarlett (11 years old) was the inspiration and motivation. She wants to be around animals, lots of them, all the time. I am a big proponent of volunteerism, and I believe we should focus our energies on the things that make us happy. Volunteering with animals that don’t have homes and who therefore don’t get the attention they deserve and crave is especially rewarding. RASKC offers a great opportunity to connect with more animals than we could ever possibly home, and a great opportunity to teach children about our responsibilities to the earth, our community, and their households by allowing them to volunteer with their parents at the shelters or take care of foster animals. We have especially enjoyed finding homes for the animals we foster (about 50%)! It’s great to talk to people about what they are looking for, or recognize in a person or family something that would make a good match with an animal we are fostering.
Q: What have you gained from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: I have gained so much from my work at RASKC. I think it has made me a more compassionate understanding person as a whole. I have more empathy. I have learned so much about how spaying and neutering is so important. And the TNR [Trap, Neuter, & Release] program. The foster program especially has taught me a lot. It has helped me grow emotionally and spiritually. The volunteer program as a whole has been incredibly healing for me mentally too. I hope to expand on that in the coming years. I have much more to learn about cats and I’m sure they still have some life lessons to teach me. And it’s such a boost to find these kitties homes! I also feel better off for many of the friendships I’ve made here.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at RASKC?
A: Feeding bottle babies and cleaning up kitten messes gives me a break from raising three teenage and pre-teen daughters. I volunteer in my children’s schools. I really enjoy running enrichment programs, but I have also volunteered with larger district-wide projects, such as curriculum review, facilities planning, and bond measures. I work part time for PEPS (Program for Early Parenting Support), facilitating new parent groups. I also teach preschool art through Bellevue Community College’s Parent Education Program. And I am a professional job hunter, always looking for other opportunities. I also do community theater.
Q: What have you gained and hope to gain from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: I have learned a little of everything, such as keeping newborn kittens alive and spotting subtle animal behaviors. Even at my ripe age, it’s great to learn these things – it is a boost to my sense of self to see a newborn kitten survive to adoption. I have also gained an understanding of the challenges my community faces, and I have met the heros that work day in and day out to solve them – from the large-hearted staff at Regional Animal Services that work tirelessly to keep animals alive, to the angel volunteers that run the adoption center, maintaining a healthy and happy environment for animals and people.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: Listen, and be tolerant and kind. Give second chances.
Q: What is your favorite park to take your dog for a walk?
A: We have a 20 month old shepherd husky named Echo. I love to go on long walks and hikes with her. She loves the dog parks – every one of them, but Marymoor is the one that suits her best with it’s expansive grounds and small rodents to hunt.
Q: What’s the best thing about your cats?
A: Our resident cats are adoring, affectionate, and cuddly. We have two, and their personalities are so different, just like snowflakes. Their problems are simple and usually easy to fix, and we are rewarded by their antics and devotion.
Q: How would you describe your cats’ personalities?
A: We have one cat, Haystack, who is sleek and lithe. She is our hunter. She is a bit aloof, but she is also starved for heat and knows when and how to get it: the second you sit down at the computer or climb into bed, she is on you in a heartbeat. It’s no matter to her that you can’t move your hands over the keyboard or stretch out your legs to sleep. She was the only kitten in her litter that survived transport in a shipment of frozen hay on the back of a truck. Our other cat, Weaver, is more lethargic and more of a homebody. She is more demanding of affection and makes use of many points of intersection. She comes running when we have family read-alouds, watch TV, go to bed, and yes, even sit down on the toilet. She does hunt, but her prey are sock balls and legos.
Q: What is the best advice you would give people who want pets?
A: Take on an abandoned pet. Look in shelters or rescue facilities before you purchase a “new” pet. You will be making a huge contribution to the planet and humanity. Pets will give back to you what you put into them. Choose what kind of pet and the temperament based on the amount of time you have to dedicate to him/her. Some pets need more time and attention than others. There are differences even among breeds of dogs. Pay close attention to those notes and the attributes of the breed. Even if you choose a low maintenance animal, you both will thrive with more attention given to him/her. There is no “zero maintenance” animal.
Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had with an animal?
A: Scarlett’s memorable moment is of one of our foster kittens, George, waking her up every morning. He would rush into her room, leap onto her bed, dig his way under her covers, bury himself under her chin, and purr like crazy.
Interested in being a volunteer? Click on the link below to learn how to get involved! http://www.kingcounty.gov/RASKCvolunteer