By Tabitha Wilkes – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

Volunteering at an animal shelter can create a mutually beneficial relationship between the animals and the volunteers, especially children. This opportunity gives back to the community, makes a positive impact on the animals’ well-being, and teaches children invaluable life lessons.

As a teacher and an animal advocate, I was curious to delve deeper into this special symbiotic bond. To learn more about the benefits of volunteering and the opportunities available for families and children, I spoke with Ashley McCalvin, the manager and rescue coordinator of the Corsicana Animal Shelter.

According to her, volunteers are critical to the success of the shelter. As a small municipal shelter committed to eliminating no-room euthanasia, the shelter relies heavily on the help of volunteers to care for the animals. The shelter offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, from taking animals to vet appointments to washing dishes and bathing animals.

Local kids groom and care for the shelter’s pets. – Photo courtesy of Brooke Anna Roberts

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are encouraged to volunteer at the shelter, with a parent present, or through a sponsoring school group such as ROTC or Scouts. There are a variety of tasks that children and families can do while volunteering, including washing dishes, folding laundry, bathing animals, and everyone’s favorite job – animal enrichment, which includes activities such as walking dogs, playtime in the animal yard, or playing with cats.

Enrichment activities are crucial for the animals’ physical and emotional well-being. The socialization opportunities provided through these activities can make all the difference in their adoptability. All too often, we see heartbreaking images of sad and depressed animals waiting in shelters for their forever homes.

Numerous dogs and cats are available for adoption at the local animal shelter. – Photo courtesy of Brooke Anna Roberts

That’s where volunteering comes in – spending time with shelter animals, walking them, and playing with them can ease the stress and depression associated with being confined to a shelter environment. By engaging in these activities, children and families can make a significant impact on the animals’ lives while also learning valuable life lessons, including:

Learning responsibility: Volunteering at an animal shelter teaches children the importance of being responsible and dependable, which instills a sense of accountability and work ethic.

Developing empathy: Working with animals can help children develop empathy and compassion. They learn to put themselves in the animal’s shoes and understand their needs and emotions.

Enhancing social skills: Volunteering at an animal shelter requires teamwork as they interact with others
and enhance communication skills.

Boosting self-esteem: Children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they see the impact of their work on the animals. This can help boost their self-esteem and confidence.

Making a difference: Volunteering at an animal shelter gives children the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of animals through small acts of kindness, making a big impact on the world around them.

Volunteering teaches valuable life lessons in responsibility and personal growth. – Photo courtesy of Brooke Anna Roberts

The life lessons children learn while volunteering enrich our community’s future because our children are our future. They will go on to promote responsible pet care and inspire others to get involved. They are our future role models, leaders, and givers. Ms. McCalvin is “optimistic that future generations will help the community embrace spay/neuter as a standard practice to help with pet over-population,” and that regular vet visits and on time vaccinations will increase with future generation which will improve general animal health throughout Corsicana.

Ultimately, Ms. McCalvin’s hope is to “see our animals as happy and healthy as they can be. The added care and attention is very beneficial. We also see a tangible benefit in having the community more involved in caring for our furry friends. It’s our hope that by involving and educating residents, positive changes will result.”

In closing, she added, “We want you here! There have been many positive changes, and we would like to continue that trend. It’s your shelter, please come be a part of our success.”

So, if you’re looking for a meaningful way to spend time with your family while making a positive impact on the world around you, consider volunteering at the Corsicana Animal Shelter. It’s time to dispel the negative stereotypes associated with most municipal shelters and show our support for the incredible work being done to better the lives of animals in our community.

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