What do Volunteers do at Great River Rescue?

What do Volunteers do at Great River Rescue?

by Brandon Mustful

Some people think that we are an all volunteer-run organization.  That’s not true.  We have, on average, 9 staff members including myself.  Our staff work hard providing daily cleaning and sanitation, processing adoptions, handling customer calls and inquiries, managing the intake of new animals, maintaining the building and facilities, and much more.  However, there is still so much more that regularly needs to get done to keep this organization going.  Therefore, I decided to write this blog post about the amazing work of our volunteers.  I want to highlight the work they are doing, and maybe even encourage others to get involved.

First of all, let’s take a quick look at the numbers from 2015.  Last year, we had a total of 2178 recorded volunteer hours.  That’s about 181.5 hours per month, which breaks down to about 9 hours per day we are open.  Please keep in mind that not all of our volunteer hours get recorded properly either.  My best guess is that we actually had about 20% more hours volunteer than were recorded.  Below is a quick chart illustrating the hours from last year:


From this chart, you can see that we generally have more volunteer help in the summer.  The spike of hours in April is actually from a few high school groups that did some volunteer projects that month, otherwise, April would have been much lower.  I would also like to point out that we had three volunteers who each contributed over 200 hours in 2015: Engress, Angie, and Patrick.  They are just three of our many awesome volunteers.

About 75% of our monthly volunteer hours are made up of returning volunteers- volunteers that have recorded hours before.  The other 25% are volunteers joining us for the first time.  Also, about 50% of volunteers contribute time once per month, while he other 50% volunteer more than once per month.  The chart below shows the exact figures from 2015:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Number of new volunteers per month 11 8 11 14 8 16 12 7 7 1 8 9
Percentage of volunteers who volunteered at least twice 47% 37% 62% 43% 45% 59% 64% 53% 65% 55% 63% 58%
Percentage of returning volunteers 69% 73% 70% 73% 80% 57% 71% 79% 73% 98% 75% 75%

So, what do these volunteers do?

Now, to the question of what volunteers do.  Volunteers participate in a variety of categories such as socializing pets, cleaning, grooming, Mod Squad, Board of Directors, and more.  The main category, which included 1121 hours in 2015 is socializing pets.  This involves visiting shelter animals at our facility, spending quality time with them, brushing them, taking dogs on walks, playing with them, etc.  Socializing is a really important task that volunteers help us with.  Many of our shelter pets have been abused or neglected in the past.  Many of them were stray animals and they don’t know how to interact with people.  Some of them have never been on a leash before or never played with a kitty toy before.  Volunteers help shelter pets learn how to trust people, and how to interact with people.  Socializing shelter pets not only enriches the animals’ lives at the shelter, but it makes them more adoptable.  Shelter pets get adopter sooner when they are socialized.  We really depend on volunteers for this task because shelter staff just don’t have the time to spend with individual animals.  Volunteers who come and socialize shelter pets are invaluable to this organization.

Some volunteers participate in some higher level animal related tasks such our Level 2 volunteers and Mod Squad volunteers.  Level 2 volunteers help more “behind the scenes” than other volunteers.  One of their main functions is to help with the intake of new animals.  Each month, we take in about 20 – 30 pets, and each intake involves many steps.  Volunteers who help with this process make things run so much smoother.  Level 2 volunteers also help with minor training, and grooming needs, and just about anything else that needs to get done around the shelter.

Mod Squad volunteers are highly committed, dedicated individuals who work with certain shelter dogs on behavior modification and training.  Many of our dogs have significant behavior issues when they arrive.  Mod Squad volunteers determine what issues are present, and help alleviate those issues.  Our Mod Squad volunteers have turned some of our hardest to adopt dogs in to some of the best, most well-behaved dogs you could ever find.

Volunteers also help in a variety of other tasks, events, and fundraising activities.  Volunteers do things from making post-adoption phone calls, to picking up doggy bank money, to planning events, to updating our social media sites, to serving on a committee, and more.  I am so grateful for the volunteers that conduct some of these odd jobs.  Without them, I would have more work to do than I could even imagine.  These volunteers allow us to provide more services, and do it more effectively and efficiently.  Below are two links to websites which give a full list of various volunteer opportunities at Great River Rescue:

Give Gab Volunteer Opportunities

Great River Rescue on Volunteer Bemidji

Finally, I can’t forget to talk about our volunteer Board of Directors.  Great River Rescue is governed by a group of community volunteers called the Board of Directors.  These volunteers provide oversight, strategic guidance, fiscal responsibility, and make any major decisions regarding the operation of the organization.  Board members meet monthly to discuss the operations of Great River Rescue, while also volunteering on various committees, attending outreach and fundraising events, and doing other needed tasks.  The members of the Board of Directors also help keep us plugged into the community and the resources available to us.  Every Board Member has made a huge commitment to this organization.  Each one volunteers countless hours and gives so much of themselves to see Great River Rescue succeed.  I am so grateful to each and every one of them!  Here is a quick list of our current board members:

Board Chair- Laura Nord
Vice Chair- Dennis Grace
Treasurer- Geri Hickerson
Secretary- Sue Feeney
Other Members- Andrew Giusti, Tammi Hartung, Terri Ball, Jennifer Janiksela, Jackie Ryder, Angie Fournier, and Kayley Schoonmaker.

Hopefully, you can see that volunteers play a very important role in the work being done at Great River Rescue.  We are always seeking more volunteer help too, because there is always more work to be done.  At the same time, you probably see that being a volunteer requires a commitment.  We need volunteers that are here to benefit the animals and the organization.  We need volunteers that will do what they say they will do.  I understand that we ask a lot of our volunteers.  And, that is why I want they to know that they are really appreciated.  I also want to get to know volunteers and make sure they are contributing in areas where they feel most valued and needed.  If you have a skill that might be useful to us, and you believe in the work we are doing, please give us a call or email and find out more.  Please reach out to us and let’s begin building a relationship that will be meaningful for you, for us, and for the animals.

Thank you for your time!  Learn more about volunteering with Great River Rescue at our volunteer page: Volunteer Page




You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Great River Rescue