Meet Anne! RASKC is extraordinarily happy to honor Anne Watanabe as Volunteer of the Month. She is very generous with her time, super skilled, and awesome in so many ways. Last year Anne contributed the most number of volunteer hours on RASKC’s Tukwila Petco Cat-Care Team. In addition to faithfully working weekly shifts pre-COVID, she serves on the leadership team, filled in frequently, and provides so many cat transports!

RASKC will always be extremely grateful to Anne and her spouse for fostering Charlie last year. Their care of challenging Charlie made all the difference in this dog’s very successful outcome. Last year Anne participated in RASKC’s 12 Ways of Volunteering video. Plus Anne volunteers with several other organizations to make the world a much better place. Thank you, Anne!

How did you hear about RASKC?

I’m a King County resident, so I’ve been aware of RASKC for some time. I’d enjoyed walking dogs with the Seattle Animal Shelter when I worked in downtown Seattle. After I stopped working in Seattle, I wanted to volunteer with animals. RASKC was relatively close to home. RASKC had an established volunteer program, lots of volunteers, and a professional volunteer coordinator, so it seemed like a good place to volunteer.

Tell us about yourself.

My career was focused on land-use law and planning, but I’m mostly retired now. I have been learning about human (and nonhuman) rights laws, climate justice, and volunteering with organizations that serve immigrants and refugees.

I grew up in South Seattle. It was back when we could walk to Sick’s Stadium in the Rainier Valley (yes, there was a stadium there eons ago…) or to Lake Washington and feed the ducks (bad, I know that now, but we loved them and thought we were helping them). We’d see interesting wildlife right at our Beacon Hill door – birds, of course, but also native frogs in our backyard, and once a beaver ran in front of the house! There were many Japanese American families in the neighborhood, and we all knew each other. There was a small corner store a few blocks from our house where we kids were sent to buy tofu or other Japanese staples. Seattle was a laid-back town then – it’s very different now.

What’s important to you?

Democracy. And we can lose it. So please vote.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at RASKC?

Until the pandemic, I was teaching citizenship classes for the wonderful King County Library System program. I’ve volunteered teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and job training for nonprofit groups. Some of my proudest moments are when citizenship students come to tell me that they’ve passed their citizenship exam. Some of them arrived as refugees from very difficult situations, and they’ve all worked so hard to gain citizenship. It’s one of the best feelings in the world to help them succeed.

I also really enjoy my garden and hiking at Mount Rainier. And with the pandemic, I’ve been catching up with a lot of reading!

What have you gained from your experience as a volunteer with RASKC?

Volunteering with RASKC and being around the dedicated and compassionate staff and volunteers helps me cope with the bad news of the day. Working with RASKC’s Tukwila Petco Cat-Care Team Leads Jayne and Carrie, I’m inspired by how much they give of themselves to help RASKC animals and others in need. RASKC’s dedicated cat-team members juggle numerous commitments in their daily lives but never miss a beat caring for each cat at RASKC. While fostering a few dogs for RASKC, I’ve met the volunteer dog walkers, who are highly skilled and work patiently with each dog. The foster program, with volunteers and the amazing Foster Care Coordinator Lori Mason, is so effective and makes a big difference for so many animals.

When you had dogs, what was your favorite place to take them for a walk?

Our last dog was a senior when we adopted her, and she turned out to be the best trail dog ever. She loved going to Dewey Lakes (on the Pacific Crest Trail), finishing her hikes with a swim – not bad for a 13-year-old Lab mix! Before her, we adopted a senior dog who, everyone thought, was on his last legs…he was an awesome frisbee athlete and hiker, so you never can tell.

Please describe a memorable time with a RASKC animal.

That would be my time with “Charlie,” the behaviorally challenged dog, who was rescued by RASKC animal control officers last year. I was at RASKC to transport cats one day, and Animal Services Coordinator Nickie Ford asked me if I would be interested in fostering him. Charlie had been returned twice by adopters. My husband and I aren’t dog experts but since we didn’t have any pets, we got the job! Charlie was with us for only a couple of months, but it felt like years. He was reactive to everything and needed 24/7 management. On top of that, he was a big strong dog, making it challenging to safely control him. But I soon discovered he was famous at RASKC and had allies. Many staff and volunteers could see the loveable dog hidden (deeply) inside and wanted to help him. RASKC provided in-home training for us (and a “scholarship” for his adopters). His favorite dog walkers knew Charlie well and gave me lots of insight into his behavior and encouragement. RASKC was willing to give him a second chance. Now he’s in a loving home, which he deserves. Charlie is still a challenge – you can’t just flip a switch with a dog like him – but his owners are committed to the hard, day-to-day work of training and socialization. I stay in regular touch with them and try to support them, just like the RASKC network supported me!