Volunteer Spotlight: Melissa

Did you know that Ten Lives Cat Rescue is run entirely by volunteers? We currently have over 70 volunteers in various roles helping us achieve our mission—to save homeless, abused, and abandoned cats by providing veterinary care, rehabilitation services, and then placing them into loving adoptive homes.

Melissa has played a crucial role as a Ten Lives volunteer for over two years as a foster, and as our Warwick PetSmart Coordinator. Thanks to her dedication, 125 cats have found their forever homes through being cared for and through events at PetSmart. Melissa has one resident cat—a Ten Lives alumnus named Happy Go Lucky—and she currently has one foster cat named Papaya.

1. How did you originally hear about us, and what made you decide to become a volunteer?

My husband and I had been thinking of adding a kitty member to our family, but were unsure how our son with special needs would do. I saw a friend’s social media post about fostering dogs through a rescue. I had never heard of fostering, so I searched it on Google and came across Ten Lives Cat Rescue. We reached out and found out how easy it was to foster and started from there.

2. What is your favorite story or memory while volunteering with us?

One of my favorite stories is about a kitten named Eve. Eve came to Ten Lives Cat Rescue after she was found in the woods by a family out on a hike on December 31st. She was all alone, less than 4 weeks old, and cold, weak, and dirty. We bottle fed/syringe fed her and gave her fluids to keep her alive. She was amazing and a fighter, and she made it through. Today, she is living her best life with her furever family.

3. What have you learned during your time as a volunteer?

One thing I have learned is that you do fall for each cat and find love for each of them in their own ways (and yes, you do feel like you want to “adopt them all”). At the same time, I have learned that sending a cat to a furever home is bittersweet. You will miss them, but it is so rewarding to know you were there when they needed it most and were a part of their journey to their forever home.

Melissa's resident cat, Happy Go Lucky
4. What do you wish other people knew about us?

I wish other people would see that you can make a difference and it doesn’t take a lot to do so. This rescue has so many small, intricate parts that help make it run so well, and it’s all done by an amazing team of volunteers. You can help by doing administrative tasks, event planning, trapping for our TNR projects, fostering, etc. You can volunteer for an hour a week to as much as you would like, and it really does make a difference.  

5. What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?

I am a wife and mom of three (a kindergartener and two high schoolers). I am also a third grade teacher and a grad student.

6. How do you think Ten Lives Cat Rescue will change over the next five years?

I think Ten Lives Cat Rescue will continue to become bigger and more known in the community. I have personally seen so much growth in the last two years I have been with Ten Lives. The rescue is doing a lot of great things and has a lot of great initiatives that really benefit the Rhode Island community. I am excited to see what is to come and to help in any way I can.

7. Why should others consider volunteering with us?

The reason others should consider volunteering with us is because we have a great network of support available in our rescue. We share stories, questions, resources, and support. I have laughed and shed some tears with this rescue. When you volunteer with Ten Lives, you are not only helping the cats; you are a part of a great community. I have made several meaningful friends throughout this journey.

8. What have you gained while volunteering with us?

I have gained so much experience with working with all sorts of kitties. I have also gained great friendships through my time volunteering.

9. How much of an impact do you feel your volunteer work has had with Ten Lives Cat Rescue?

My volunteer time with Ten Lives mainly focuses on the partnership with PetSmart in Warwick and overseeing the temporary residents we have there. I coordinate the amazing team of volunteers that are there twice a day, every day, I communicate with the rescue and the staff at PetSmart, and I help plan and attend our monthly events. 

Melissa and her former foster, Eve

Since February 2021 alone, we have had over 50 adoptions at PetSmart. Because our rescue operates as a foster-based organization, we do not have a shelter in place, so this is one way for us to be out in the community. The impact of my volunteer work at PetSmart allows me (and our amazing PetSmart team) to meet so many people in our community and let them know about our rescue and our kitties. It also allows others to learn more about ways they can get involved, and about all of the great things that we are working on. I hope that my role is making a positive impact on Ten Lives Cat Rescue and its mission. 

Are you interested in volunteering with Ten Lives Cat Rescue? Fill out a Volunteer Application, become a foster, sponsor a Forgotten Feline, and purchase needed supplies through our Amazon Wishlist!

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