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Featured Volunteers: Fran Matinale and Bonnie Katz
If there were ever a tandem in the Volunteer Program that would be featured together in a story, Bonnie Katz and Fran Matinale would be it.
Often referred to as the Lucy and Ethel of Animal League America because of their inseparable ways and lively demeanors, Bonnie and Fran began their journeys as Volunteers just a month apart from one another back in 2008. Since meeting during a fateful encounter in the Puppy Room, the veteran Volunteers have been using their upbeat personalities and unbridled passion for animal rescue to enrich the lives of our shelter pets each time they don their red shirts for a shift. Every Wednesday and Friday you can find Bonnie and Fran doing whatever they can to pitch in – whether it’s cleaning cages, interacting with potential adopters, or taking the smaller breeds outside for walks and socialization, they are almost always combining forces for the greater good.
“Whatever I can do to help, I will gladly do it. I wish I could be here 24 hours a day, seven days a week working with the animals trying to provide them with a better quality of life. I know Fran would say the same thing,” said Bonnie. “From the day we met, we hit it off and built a bond through the work we are doing here. We both have a passion for it and we enjoy each other’s company. We have a reputation for always being together, but it’s wonderful. This place is like my second home and Fran and the other Volunteers are like my family.”
Fran echoed those sentiments.
“I found that as I got older, I wanted to spend my time doing things I am passionate about. Being able to spend a couple days a week at the Animal League has allowed me to do that, and has provided me with so much gratification. Every time I turn the corner and make my way towards the shelter it is a mental health day for me.” she said. “Being able to work side by side with Bonnie is great because we both are high energy and have similar personalities. We also have a strong passion for the cause.”
Fran and Bonnie may come from different parts of New York, (Fran lives in Manhasset Hills and Bonnie in Whitestone, Queens) but both are always together at Animal League America’s Port Washington campus, assisting the associates and kennel managers with whatever they need. Although they take pride in being able to handle multiple tasks, both agreed that the most gratifying part of the position is when they are fortunate enough to be instrumental in helping an older, longer tenured shelter pet find the perfect home.
“When I am able to help send a dog home with the perfect adopter it really makes my whole day,” said Bonnie. “Everyone wants a puppy to bring home and love, but when we can help an older dog or a Puppy Mill dog go home, it’s really special.”
When they aren't playing canine matchmakers, Animal League America’s favorite duo can be found at Herricks Senior Community Service Center bringing joy to the residents of the adult day care facility. On the last Wednesday of every month, Bonnie and Fran take one or two of our loveable puppies and make the short drive to New Hyde Park to give the residents, most suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, a temporary cure for all of their woes – a little puppy therapy.
“All of us Volunteers here are like puzzle pieces. We all may be separate pieces and have different jobs, but when we all come together we create something special,” said Bonnie so eloquently. “Everything we do is from the heart and with the thought of making a difference in the lives of the animals and the people who they make so happy.”