From last year, I joined the Animal Relief Club at YIS. This club meets once every friday lunchtime. Here we come up with fundraising ideas for local animal shelters, and discuss visits to the shelters to practically assist. I joined this group because my friends were the leaders and gave me good information about it, and because I like animals and thought that it would be a good community service for me to both help others and enjoy myself. I used to have a dog, so this club means a lot to me. Throughout the year, the club visits the shelter several times to help walk dogs. The group last year we helped was SALA, and this year we are helping the shelter Lifeboat.
Being in an animal shelter was an unfamiliar environment. I had never gone to one before this club, and being there i was shocked. Although the conditions of the place were fine, it was still sad to see all the animals kept in cages, and surprising to see how many there were. Although I first felt uncomfortable because of a combination of language barriers, not being familiar with the local area, and lack of experience I feel much more confident now in my ability to help and communicate with the shelter.
When not at the shelter, ARC has helped me develop my fundraising skills. In small subgroups I had to work with other members to develop ideas to help the group. There were many sub committee, and I am on the fundraising ideas group. I believe this is one of the most important groups, as we must raise awareness and funds for ARC. I have developed my skills at communicating with the leaders and younger members, and feel that a common interest in animal welfare has made it easy to become friends with other members. Although I did not know everyone in the group before, the fact that everyone has a shared passion for helping animals makes it easy to bond with others. For fundraising, I also learnt business skills. It was important to come up with ideas that would generate a profit. For example, I assisted in coming up with the idea of a “guess the no. of jelly beans in the jar” game for YIS’s 2015 Food Fair. This is an important fundraising event for the group, and with the new restraint of not being able to sell food, I feel very proud of this creative idea.
I have shown commitment by attending all meetings and regularly volunteering for extra jobs, such as creating the poster with photos for the ARC booth at the 2015 Service Fair. Although the shelter was far, I still committed my time and effort to go and help with transporting donation items and walking the dogs.
This group has made me much more aware about the ethics behind animal shelters. Although the conditions were liveable, they were still very low compared to household pets. The cages were small, and sanitation was not a priority. The noise and smells inside the shelter were quite overwhelming. This experience has made me question how strongly laws for animal rights are implemented, and whether governments are doing anything to fix this problem.
I look forward to continue being a member of this group in my senior year. I hope to visit the Lifeboat shelter soon to assist in the dog walking, and to see how successful our fundraising at Food Fair is.