October 2021: Volunteer of the Month: Sharon Van Hout
Meet Sharon! RASKC is extremely happy to honor Sharon Van Hout as Volunteer of the Month. Since she began in 2017 until the pandemic, this Auburn resident has contributed almost 500 hours so far- performing the sweaty, arduous work on the Early Morning Cat Crew at the shelter, including cleaning up some very yukky messes—faithfully working a weekly shift as shift lead, contributing a great many fill-in shifts, and having trained so many new volunteers- doing it all with great skill and aplomb. Sharon is also delightful to work!
Q: How did you decide to volunteer, especially to help animals?
A: I had just retired from corporate life and wanted to fill some of my time. I’ve had animals my whole life and could never imagine my home without one or two. When I saw that the shelter in Kent was open for cat volunteers, my heart skipped a beat.
Q: What have you gained from your experience so far as a RASKC volunteer?
A: I learned that it is a lot of work and heartache to care for each and every animal that enters the shelter. Every person at this and other shelters are truly unique and gifted people. My biggest struggle at RASKC was to see an animal confined to a condo or kennel for more than a few weeks. I wanted to rescue them all, to give them space to roam and relax. I had to shake that thought off weekly. RASKC impressed me most with the great people that where constantly thinking of ways to improve life in a shelter and get them comfortable for a quick adoption.
Q: Please describe a memorable moment you’ve had with RASKC animals and people.
A: I adopted my current cat and favorite fur baby “Willie” from RASKC about 11 years ago, then Miss “Silvie” in 2018. OMG! I have always had the most loving and talkative pets. I guess they get that from me loving on them constantly 😊, I will always head to RASKC when in need of another pet.
Since every staffer is so darn friendly and kind, I could not choose just one. I truly loved socializing with the longtime volunteers and staff. Great stories. I must say my favorite is Lori Middleton, the Lead Volunteer on RASKC’s Reber Ranch Cat-Care Team. She always came in focused and ready to love on the cats.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
A: I grew up in the Kent/Des Moines area and never moved away. I like the weather here, so I never wanted to live elsewhere. What’s most important to me: Staying active, taking care of my fur babies, helping others when I can, and loving on my family. Hubby and I just became grandparents last year, and we are doing our best to spoil our grandson rotten when we can.
I enjoy working in my yard, going on urban walks and riding motorbikes with hubby and friends. I met my hubby 29 years ago, and he introduced me to motorcycling. Of course, I had to invest in learning to ride and get my own. We take multiple trips every year. Let me tell you, the back roads in Washington are some of the most amazing and beautiful trips we’ve been on.
I worked 23 years at Nordstrom, and I made the “All Star” award three times. That is for going above and beyond with helping the company out in more than just my expected duties. A great company to work for.
Nordstrom had each department donate one day a year to United Way’s “Day of Caring”. I loved it, because it got us out of the office and showed us how much need there is in the community. It was a rewarding feeling. That’s how I feel every day at RASKC. Hubby and I now do volunteer work with Northwest Harvest. We also did some volunteer work for Bloodworks Northwest, including regular blood donations. Hubby and I loved the volunteer work we did at the Seattle International Beerfest to raise money for RASKC in the years leading up to the pandemic (Thank you, RASKC volunteer Melissa Blake who organized this activity for several years!). What a great way to raise money for the shelter!
RASKC says, “Cheers to you, Sharon!”
We deeply appreciate all that you do to make the world a better place, for people and pets.