Melanie Waller, Volunteer Since 2020
Opening Her Heart and Home
Melanie Waller found Animal League America to be a valuable respite when the nation locked down due to COVID-19. Melanie previously interned with our web team and returned to volunteer in BFF during quarantine. She found volunteering at Animal League America provided a source of much-needed human interaction, in addition to the emotional lift that comes from being around our animals. Now, even though she has a fulltime job, Melanie still makes time to come to BFF on the weekends, in addition to opening her home to foster cats in need.
“I got my first cat, Domino, from Animal League America when I was in second grade,” Melanie remembered. “And I always said that when I had the time, I would work there.” That moment came with an internship after her college graduation in 2017, which was also when her love of fostering began. “My family applied to foster after watching the Beth Stern foster video, and we were given a litter of four kittens. It was super fun, and they were really cute, but also a ton of work!” Melanie said. “Although giving them up at the end of the foster period was difficult, we knew that we couldn’t keep four kittens, and with Animal League America, they would go to a good home.”
Over time, Melanie has found how deeply rewarding fostering can be. Sometimes cats need time to recover from a medical condition or a home environment where they can come out of their shell. In fact, Melanie’s favorite challenge is getting the shyer cats to emerge from hiding. “That’s always a little game I like to play,” she said. “What am I going to come up with to get this one or that one out? Sometimes it’s a food trail or with other ones, butterfly toys work like magic.”
Melanie’s innate ability to connect with our felines continues to impress Dorit Shevach-Shani, Senior Feline Behavior Manager at Animal League America. “I am honored to have Melanie as part of our team,” Dorit said. “She has a calming energy that all the cats really respond to and it’s magical to watch. Sometimes I’ll walk past and Melanie will have a group of cats surrounding her, just wanting to be near her. She truly has a gift.”
For her part, Melanie definitely recommends joining the Animal League America family of fosters and volunteers: “There are always different trainings and so many ways you can get involved. You’re bound to find something you like. I plan to keep fostering my whole life!”
April is Volunteer Appreciation Month
At North Shore Animal League America, we could not perform all of the hands-on work that we do without the help of our incredible team of dedicated volunteers.
If you’d like to learn more about the Volunteer Program and available opportunities, please visit animalleague.org/volunteer.