June 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Jeannie Dykstra
Meet Jeannie! RASKC is super happy to honor Jeannie Dykstra as Volunteer of the Month. In only two years, she has contributed nearly 2,600 hours- as a foster volunteer extraordinaire and also by contributing weekly shifts in RASKC’s Vet Clinic and on RASKC’s Covington Cat-Care Team. Jeannie has also trained quite a number of new volunteers. She brings an outstanding background to volunteering, as you will see below.
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: I went searching for an animal shelter that I wanted to work with when I realized I was moving to the Seattle area. The first day I went to “check it out,” I left with four newborn kittens. It’s been nearly a constant flow ever since.
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: I have volunteered with various animal rescue groups (there are very many) in south Florida for about 10 years before moving here, including working a year as the Foster Care Coordinator in our county’s very large animal-shelter. Counting the mom and kittens I am currently fostering, I have fostered 926 animals. From dogs giving birth, including once I had two moms give birth on the same night, to medical cases, it has all been very rewarding. I used to only foster dogs and puppies. One of my dogs was very mean toward cats, but she has since died. Now I mostly do kittens, but I love puppies!
Q: What do you do and like to do when you aren’t volunteering for RASKC?
A: I belong to a small knitting group who meets three mornings a week at the Covington library (only now we meet on Zoom). I belong to two quilting guilds, and I volunteer with Vine Maple Place one morning a week (in normal times). So I knit, crochet, sew, quilt, etc…
Q: What have you gained and hope to gain from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?
A: I enjoy meting all the staff and other volunteers, always learning new ways of doing things, and improving techniques and ideas.
Q: What is your life motto?
A: While I don’t have a motto, I do believe in trying to live the best you can be.
Q: Tell us a little more about yourself.
A: I grew up in Catonsville, to the west of Baltimore, and lived there until I was 22 years old. I have also lived in Newport, Rhode Island, in Charleston, South Carolina, and for 35 years in Miami. I loved Miami, despite the heat, hurricanes, giant bugs, and alligators, but it was time to move on. I’m very independent with lots of interests and am never bored. I’m very close to my two children and two grandchildren who live in California. I try to get to see them as much as I reasonably can. We enjoy vacationing together.
In 2010 I was honored to receive the Outstanding Volunteer Hero award from the South Florida Veterinary Foundation during their people, pets and vets ceremony for extraordinary acts of kindness and enhancing the lives of animals in our community. I also received a recognition award for my yarn store, Elegant Stitches, for adopting the 411th engineer brigade while deployed in Iraq, August 2006 to August 2007. We sent them food and other supplies. They sent a crystal plaque and a United States flag that flew over Baghdad. I got lots of thanks and letters from various units which served over there and in Afghanistan.
Q: Tell us about your dogs.
A: I have four dogs – all rescues, of course. Mostly we just walk around my very big block or a neighboring pond. They are all getting old- 5 to over 12 years old- and are enjoying their golden years being spoiled rotten. Three are females who came to me with litters, after being dumped. After the babies were adopted, they have just stayed with me- more by default than anything else. They are relaxed and laid back for the most part. My male is a growler by nature. It’s how he talks, and he doesn’t try to be mean. He’s a big baby, really.
Q: What are some notable moments from your time as a RASKC volunteer?
A: It’s always memorable when I get to match my foster animal up with the perfect family- sometimes at my house, but often at the shelter’s Meet and Greet area.
Q: What else would you like to say about volunteering for RASKC?
A: It has been a very rewarding experience. I think more people should try it. Some like working in the shelter better, and some might like fostering at home better. Whatever you like, there’s something for you to try and somehow for