When Virginia Guillochon moved from Paris, France to Miami three years ago, she was looking for a way to connect with the community and fill some of the loneliness of the weekends in a new city.
She found that connection as a volunteer with the pets at Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department (Animal Services). For the past three years Virginia has spent her weekends walking, playing, connecting with and giving shelter pets loving care and attention while they wait for their forever families to adopt and take them home.
Virginia is one of hundreds of volunteers that dedicate their time and energy to helping and advocating for the communities lost and abandoned pets. Every year Animal Services’ volunteers contribute more than 35,000 hours helping shelter pets and the community.
Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, recently awarded Animal Services the coveted Service Enterprise Certification. With this award Animal Services joins an elite 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance excellence.
“Animal Services is honored to join such an acclaimed group of leaders in volunteer management. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the volunteers, who selflessly give of themselves and their time to help the pets in our care. Volunteers are invaluable to our organization,” said Alex Muñoz, Animal Services director. “By achieving this level of excellence and certification, the talent of our volunteers continues to assist us in meeting our mission of saving pet lives every day and rehoming pets with loving families.”
Animal Services volunteers provide an array of services to help the community’s pets. They provide around-the-clock care for newborn kittens as “Kitten Cuddlers” and open their homes as foster parents to help prepare shelter pets for their forever families.
Volunteers come in to the shelter to bathe and groom pets, walk and play with them, help with meet and greets and guide adopters through the adoption process. Community Action Targeted Trapping Initiative, or CATTI volunteers help humanely manage the community cat population in the county through the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return program. Other volunteers help at the Wellness Clinic, assisting vet techs on the daily functions, while some use their social media networks to help us promote our programs and adoptable shelter pets.
These are only a few of the important duties that volunteers help with in, at the Pet Adoption and Protection Center in Doral. The effective and efficient management of volunteers allows Animal Services to ensure the best possible care for the pets under its care and the best services for the community.
Research conducted by the TCC Group, a national program and evaluation firm, found that organizations operating as a Point of Light Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all aspects of organizational effectiveness, and are more adaptable, sustainable and capable of scaling their work.
The Service Enterprise program is a national change management program that helps organizations gain a greater return on volunteer investment to better achieve their mission.
To become a certified Service Enterprises, Animal Services completed a comprehensive assessment, more than 20 hours of training and coaching, as well as an extensive internal planning and change process to better integrate volunteers into the human capital strategy.
To learn more about Animal Services volunteerism visit miamidade.gov/animals or call 311.