November 2020 Volunteer of the Month: Pei, Ella, & Ava Yuen
Meet Pei, Ella, & Ava! RASKC is extremely honored to recognize Pei Yuen and her daughters Ella and Ava as RASKC Volunteers of the Month. They have been providing exemplary service to RASKC since 2016. Aside from COVID restrictions, the Yuen family are extraordinarily reliable for their closing shift on Mondays at Kirkland Petco, which is an especially important shift. Not only do they assist customers who are interested in the cats, help facilitate adoptions, they also conscientiously perform a great many detailed tasks to ensure that all of the animals, supplies, and equipment are taken care of. Their outstanding work helps to ensure the opening shift on Tuesday mornings starts off super smoothly. Together the Yuen family has contributed almost 1,000 hours to RASKC: Fantastic! Thank you so very, very, very much, Pei, Ella, and Ava!
Q: How did you hear about RASKC?
A: After noticing the RASKC volunteers at Bellevue Crossroads Petco, we found out that it was possible for younger children to work with the animals. After a little more research, we were excited to find we could sign up to help on RASKC’s team at Kirkland Petco.
Q: What made you want to volunteer, especially to work with animals?
A: We all love cats and dogs, but due to allergies in the family, we cannot really have cats in our home. So when we heard about the volunteering opportunities for younger children, it was the perfect situation. The children get to make a contribution while spending time with the cats. Ella and I try to be careful around the cats due to minor allergic reactions to the cats, but sometimes (often) it’s just too hard to resist those kitty snuggles! When we were able to see the dogs at Kirkland, it was such a bonus. We are so grateful that helping out at RASKC gave us the chance to work together and enjoy all those cat personalities.
Q: What have you all gained and hope to gain from your experience as volunteers with RASKC?
A: Working together as parent and children has strengthened our bond and appreciation for each other and for the work of rehoming shelter animals. We get joy from watching customers interacting with the cats, and the happiness that comes from helping adopt out an animal is immeasurable.
Q: Tell us about yourselves.
A: I am a stay-at-home mom who came to the United States from England over 20 years ago. I have loved being able to stay home to raise my children. Luckily, Ella and Ava have enjoyed having me volunteer regularly throughout their school years. Ella is a keen artist, who is never without her art supplies. She works hard at and enjoys her executive positions on her school ASB and Green Team. Ava is the sporty one in the family, and enjoys track and field, cross country and basketball. She expresses her artistic side through her baking and cooking.
I grew up in a small mining village in Nottinghamshire, in central England. Most of my childhood was spent going to school and working in my immigrant parents’ Chinese takeout/fish and chips shop. While I didn’t appreciate all the responsibilities and hard work at the time, the memories and experiences are precious and valued.
For bringing up a young family, the Pacific Northwest has been a true blessing. We love the weather, the surroundings, all the activities available year-round, as well as being in such a diverse area. Growing up, my family was the only Asian family in the village for most of my childhood, so I am especially happy for my kids to grow up in such a culturally diverse area. Ella and Ava are Pacific Northwesterners, through and through, growing up enjoying all that the area has to offer – hiking, biking, skiing, paddle boarding, etc…
We are extremely thankful that dad, Earnest, was willing to work at building a successful career, so that I could stay home and spend time building these idyllic memories with the children!
Q: What’s important to you?
A: We aim to live our lives with certain ideals in mind: be kind, be grateful, be happy. Even without the lessons learned from the current pandemic, I aimed to raise my children with the focus of appreciating their lives and doing their best with a positive attitude. The modern world has become a complicated place, and increased pressure and stress is commonplace. We try to stay positive and look for the light in tough situations – and always choosing to be kind is such a rewarding thing for ourselves and for others around us.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering for RASKC?
A: The kids are very busy with their school life. Both kids love making music – Ella plays piano, flute and tenor saxophone, while Ava is a percussionist, who likes to rock out on her drum set (she also plays the piano and ukulele for fun.) Since their father works in the videogame industry, both girls enjoy and appreciate video games – they have managed to stay connected with their friends through online videogames through the pandemic. I am a keen knitter and a voracious reader (and very grateful for our amazing local library system.) I love to volunteer at the children’s schools, both in the classroom and around the school – last year, the major project was organizing and producing the costumes for the school musical, The Music Man.
Q: How would you describe your pet’s personality?
A: We have a rescue that is thought to be a Havanese/Poodle mix. Kokoro is a sweet, loving dog who loves to sit on or beside you. She has blossomed from a sad-looking, wary rescue dog into a people-loving cuddlebug. The only downside is that she does not enjoy playing with other dogs, whereas the rest of the family loves to meet and greet other dogs on our walks out and about!
Q: Where do you like to take Kokoro for a walk?
A: Before COVID, I would take her to explore parks throughout the area, including Farrell McWhirter, Juanita Beach, Crossroads, Robinswood, and Kelsey Creek. Since the pandemic, Kokoro has enjoyed family walks around our neighborhood, “family” being the key. For much of the lockdown, our family evening walk would help break up the long days at home. Oftentimes, now if there are not at least three out of the four family members accompanying her, Kokoro will pull us home and refuse to go beyond our cul-de-sac.
Q: Describe a memorable moment you’ve had at RASKC’s pet adoption center in Kirkland Petco.
A: We have met so many wonderful cats, dogs, and people at RASKC. There is always a cat or a dog that the kids want to adopt… but the hard-to-adopt animals are the ones that truly capture your heart because they are there when you return for your shift each week. Stevia was one of the cats who was there every week, huddled nervously in her cubby. We will forever remember the day we found out Stevia was finally adopted by amazing team leader, Teresa. We have always admired Teresa for her dedication to the program, but the time and love she gave to Stevia was so touching. We were so sad to learn of Stevia’s passing recently – Thank you, Teresa, for being such an inspirational role model, and for providing such a loving home for this special cat.
Q: What else would you like to say about volunteering for RASKC?
A: Volunteering at RASKC has been so rewarding for us on many levels. We love spending time with all the cats – young and old. It is exciting turning up each week to see who was adopted out and who is sadly still waiting. It is precious mom-daughter-sister time for us too, working on something together outside of the busy school schedule. RASKC is so well organized, with dedicated volunteer coordinators and an excellent support network, making it fun and easy to volunteer. Thank you for the opportunity, RASKC!