Erica has been volunteering at Lort Smith since 2017. She started off in the laundry and quickly moved to the cattery and then kennels. In the past year, she has also become a foster carer to both cats and dogs.
Erica has always held a strong passion for working with animals and is currently pursuing studies in animal science at university.
“I felt that volunteering at an animal shelter was a good way for me to get the experience that will help me kick start a career in animal welfare. I also thought that it would be a good way to relieve stress from my studies,” explains Erica.
Not being a Melbourne resident, Erica had never heard of Lort Smith until a university professor mentioned that it was a good place to volunteer.
“I had just started getting help for my mental health and had a few good days where I felt like I could do anything, so I applied. To this day it is the best thing I have ever done, everyone is friendly and willing to share stories and knowledge and it’s something I look forward to every week,” shares Erica.
Erica works at a commercial cattery during holiday periods and has found it beneficial to see another animal care system. She admits she has turned down similar job offers due to the high welfare standards that volunteering with Lort Smith has taught her.
When Erica commenced volunteering in 2017, inductions were run by staff. This responsibility now sits with senior volunteers. Erica is one such volunteer.
“I find that inducting smaller groups of newcomers really encourages learning and asking questions. It also encourages new volunteers to ask for help from more experienced volunteers, without feeling daunted by potentially interrupting staff,” explains Erica.
Erica enjoys seeing familiar faces each week, both human and animal, and building relationships with them. She admits volunteering has gotten her through some tough times. But its foster caring that has had the greatest impact on Erica – especially the animals that required special care over an extended period.
“I have looked after an old cat, helped a dog succeed in his weight loss journey, helped a cat overcome his fears, rehabilitated a puppy with two broken legs, looked after a very stressed mama dog and her four pups, and I’m currently helping a cat beat his allergies,” shares Erica.
Erica thinks everyone should try volunteering for an organisation that they care deeply about as the benefits are countless.
“It gives you a chance to socialise, do work that you might have otherwise not tried, gets you out of the house, and is a great way to improve mental health. Most importantly all it requires is a bit of your time, no money or resources you might not have, and you can feel confident that you are doing something good,” says Erica.
We are delighted that volunteering with Lort Smith has been mutually beneficial Erica. Thank you so much for all that you do, both onsite and at home.