A profound sense of altruism was a major factor in attracting Tricia Barnabe to volunteering at the Winnipeg Humane Society a year ago.
That, and a chance to spend some time with puppies as part of the Behaviour team.
“I retired May 2016 and I’m a true believer in altruism,” she explained. “You get more from volunteering than you give out. It’s a bigger experience and it means more for the volunteer than what he or she puts in. I’ve volunteered with other organizations like Air Canada Dreams Take Flight since 2005 and with the Winnipeg Fringe Festival since 2016.”
She was also a member of the David Suzuki Butterfly project this year as a Ranger, recruiting several people in the neighbourhood to plant milkweed and harvest Monarch butterflies.
“My husband heard someone who was walking in front of our house say ‘That is where the butterfly lady lives,’” she laughed. “My son says that it is better than being called the squirrel lady. I have named one Gus who comes to my front door.” Her spirit of community is also shown in her two terms as a school trustee.
When the Behaviour team has a class or an event, Tricia comes in about an hour ahead of time to clean and set up the room, assists during the event and then makes sure the room is cleaned up after the event is over. She volunteers one day a week but is often on call if extra support is needed.
“I went in for my interview and this job in Behaviour was the only position they had at the time, but it’s worked out really well for me,” she pointed out. “I enjoy it. I’m learning a lot. Nancy and Carrie are just amazing. I feel I have a good working relationship with them, so it’s been very good.”
Tricia said there’s also a ‘selfish’ reason for being with the dogs. “We lost our lab cross a few years ago. My son got a golden retriever, so we thought we’d get our dog fix through my son. But then my son was promoted to London, Ontario so there went the dog fix. I thought ‘Well, I love dogs and there are so many dogs out there in need. I love the purebreds but my heart goes out to the rescue dogs. There’s such a need for them out there. So we got a rescue dog through Manitoba Underdogs, because the WHS had no puppies at the time.”
“The puppy (Samantha, a five-month-old Lab cross) keeps me busy so I take one regular shift per week and I’m on call if Nancy or Carrie need more help. I was on call for 12 years with the airline so I’m used to it.” She added that friends and family tease her about volunteering with the Humane Society, wondering when the next dog or dogs will come home with her. She did end up adopting Samantha, almost a year after joining the Humane Society. “So my friends and family were right,” Tricia said. “I did adopt a dog. But I have her and now I will continue to volunteer at the WHS.”
“Nancy and Carrie are great,” she continued. “I’ve worked well with them right from the start. It’s a great place to volunteer. I also appreciate everything Kelle and Johanne do for the volunteers, especially during the COVID times. All the staff are very helpful. “
And appreciation is a two-way street. “Tricia has been a huge asset as an assistant to the Dog and Puppy classes! She is always willing to help out, and is so friendly and welcoming to the dogs and the clients,” said Nancy and Carrie. “COVID has changed how we do things at the WHS, and Tricia has rolled with those changes. Her assistance has been so important over the last few months, we appreciate every time she comes to class!”
They also used the following to express their appreciation for the help they receive from Tricia.
“I’m an avid reader and I love quotations and one of my favourites is relevant to the Winnipeg Humane Society,” Tricia said.
“The greatness of a nation can be judges by the way its animals are treated”. Mahatma Gandhi.
Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer
A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
Is there a volunteer you’d like to nominate to be MVP? E-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us why you think they should be an MVP!