A cool volunteering opportunity… but not for right now

We didn’t accomplish everything we set out to do in 2023, and that’s okay.

No one can do all the things, all at once. Not everything has to be a “right now” rush.

You see, over the summer, Z and I signed up for the Humane Society of Delaware County’s robust volunteer training program. We were all set to get trained and become official kitty cuddlers and dog walkers.

Even though Z is already a kitty cuddler for Saving Grace Cat Rescue at the Petsmart Polaris location, she was looking forward to being able to go cuddle and socialize the kittens and cats at HSDC, too.

But she was especially looking forward to being a dog walker. Ever since our wonderful experience taking a shelter dog out for the day while in Kauai, we have wanted to do this again. Dogs don’t belong in shelters and taking them out for a day and sharing photos of them is a great way to help them ultimately get adopted. Plus, it’s super fun!

Here’s the thing, though. I accidentally told Z initially that the HSDC orientation involved two days of training, and I had my facts wrong; it’s actually four days. She’s never great with last-minute changes, especially not ones that involve additional long learning sessions on summer afternoons.

The total commitment for HSDC volunteer training is 10.5 hours, broken into three two-hour classroom days followed by 4.5 hours of on-site training at the shelter. That’s a lot from a 13-year-old perspective.

I told her Z that volunteer training for Trevor Project was more than 10 WEEKS, not hours, so HSDC’s training program didn’t seem like too much to me! But she still wasn’t down to continue.

The main reason we dropped out of the training was that, during the first or second training session, we learned that Z would not be able to be an official dog walker due to age requirements. She could come along on walks with the shelter dogs, but she can’t be the one to hold the leash until she is 16.

That was the deal-breaker for our autonomy-driven girl. She was willing to endure multiple days of classroom training in the summer for the reward of being able to walk shelter dogs, but when she found out she could only come along but not be in charge, she lost interest. I get it, and we’ll be sure to come back to the program in a few years.

I have to say, I was super impressed with HSDC’s volunteer training program. We learned so much about the shelter, its staff and policies, and the amazing care they provide to the animals there. I’m glad we went through two days of their training and I would have liked to complete the program. It’s held in a lovely indoor/outdoor space at a nearby church with pretty views and good airflow.

I highly recommend this program – and volunteering in general – to other parent and tween/teen teams!

Perhaps it’s best we tabled our HSDC volunteering until another time. It’s entirely possible that, between my new full-time job, plus weekly volunteer shifts for Trevor Project and being on the board of Preservation Parks Foundation, it would have been difficult to keep up the minimum number of volunteer shifts at HSDC. Like I said at the outset: we can’t do all the things right now.

Hopefully, when Z turns 16, she’ll want to go through the HSDC training with me again and see it through to become official volunteers. Then, she can walk shelter dogs to her heart’s content!

Did you take on anything new last year and find yourself unable or unwilling to complete it? I’d love to hear your tales of unfinished business in the comments below or over on Facebook or Instagram.



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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.

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