Samantha Rothstein, Volun-TEEN Program
Her smile lights up a room. No matter how busy it gets on a Saturday afternoon in the Adoption Center at North Shore Animal League America, Samantha will make time to answer a question or simply listen to an adopter’s story while cleaning a puppy cage and changing a water bowl. If it means getting homeless animals adopted, she is ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes.
After all, Sami (as her friends call her) is the teen champion of multi-tasking. She plays not one but three sports for Wheatley School, assists with canine adoptions every week for our organization, and maintains a high grade point average in school.
Sami, part of the Volun-TEEN program, received the first-ever Rookie Volunteer of the Year Award in 2017 for her willingness to get her hands dirty and help behind the scenes with dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens and her excellence in assisting with adoptions. She also stood out because, in spite of being so busy during her volunteer shift, she keeps the welfare of the animals as her top priority.
“I love being a part of the Volun-TEEN program because it offers me the chance to work with animals and also meet new people my age!” she laughs. “I’ve made many friends through the program. We work together to make sure we are getting the job done correctly.”
Sami had a dog while she was growing up and now has a 10-year-old Havanese named Luke. “I always wanted to volunteer at Animal League America. The main reason is that when I was little my Mom used to take me here to visit the dogs,” says Sami. “During one visit I asked how old you needed to be to volunteer. I made sure that I filled out the volunteer application on my 16th birthday!”
Sami finds her volunteer experience rewarding in two ways: she is able to “help people find their companions to live with and enjoy” and she also just “loves being with the animals.” She believes strongly that people don’t need to buy pets when there are so many animals that need homes. When speaking with potential adopters, she likes to make sure that they are aware of the level of commitment needed to own a pet.
“Being a volunteer has taught me responsibility. The animals are in my hands,” she asserts. “I have to make sure they are safe and keep their cages clean.” She credits her interactions with people here as having helped her to hone her customer service skills and deal with the public in a better way.
Besides her love of animals, Sami’s other great love is sports. She is an award-winning three sport athlete for Wheatley School (lacrosse, soccer, and basketball). “When it comes to sports, I gotta go after it,” asserts Sami. “This inner beast comes out in me and I have to do whatever I can to win.”
In 2018, she was the highest scorer in girls’ high school lacrosse on Long Island, she has led the soccer team to two state tournaments, and is the captain of the basketball team. This past January, she received a Scholar Athlete Award from News 12 Long Island.
While she will be attending Tufts University in the fall on a lacrosse scholarship, Sami’s dedication to Animal League America and its rescued pets remains strong. She will be continuing on as a contingent volunteer during school breaks and holidays. Staff and fellow volunteers will be happy to still see her smile and adopters will still be able to benefit from her counseling—just not every week.