March Volunteer Profile: Gerry Briggs
Many of the thousands of animals adopted from the Winnipeg Humane Society owe volunteer Gerry Briggs a big ‘thank you’ for helping show them off in the best possible light and, perhaps, helping get them adopted sooner.
Gerry comes in Fridays and cleans the windows of the animals’ condos, so that visitors have a clearer view of their next furry companion.
“I started doing cat cuddling eight years ago,” Gerry explained, “and I enjoyed it. But I discovered I had an allergy and was getting plugged up. So I changed to window washing.”
While he doesn’t have direct contact with the animals, Gerry enjoys seeing them in their enclosures. He also enjoys his interactions with fellow volunteers and staff, especially with staff members (and twins) Roxie and Ashley, who began giving him fresh-baked cookies at Christmas a few years ago. It has now become an exchange of cookies at Christmas. “Cheryl makes really good shortbread,” Roxie said.
Gerry suffered a stroke 10 years ago and retired from his job as a draftsman. He has aphasia, a degenerative disorder that can affect speech. He maintains an active lifestyle – in addition to his duties at the Humane Society he goes to the Reh-Fit Centre four times a week and swimming every Monday.
This writer asked Gerry what was the reason behind his decision to volunteer at the WHS. Was it a life-long love of animals, like so many other WHS volunteers profiled in the past? “My wife decided to get me volunteering at the Humane Society,” he said, with a grin. But he noted that over the years he and wife Cheryl had three dogs – so there definitely was an affinity for animals. “This is a nice way for me to come and see pets.”
“After the stroke, we were trying to keep him busy and occupied and talking to people and volunteering at the Humane Society has really helped him,” Cheryl noted. “He sometimes has trouble getting words out, so it really helps him. He talks to people here and it’s a relaxed setting.”
Gerry and his wife Cheryl say staff and volunteers have been very welcoming, especially Volunteer Services Manager Kelle Greene. “Kelle has been very accommodating and great with Gerry,” Cheryl said.
“It’s important for me to get out here and talk to people,” Gerry added.
When Gerry gets home from volunteering, Cheryl always asks him if there were any little puppies. “He always says no. I think he’s lying,” Cheryl said, laughing. “He keeps telling me there’s only big ones and we live in a condo. I know he’s telling stories so we won’t come home with a puppy. I say ‘You’re lying to me’ and he says ‘Maybe.’”
“There’s only big dogs,” Gerry responded, with a gleam in his eye. “Big black dogs.”
Cheryl is a teacher who plans on retiring this summer. She suggested she might become a WHS volunteer dog walker and see for herself.
Gerry is somewhat skeptical. He figures the big dogs might take Cheryl for walks instead of the other way around. He suggests cat cuddling instead.
His hard work and dedication is valued by the Adoption team, who said “Gerry is quiet but such a hard worker and he’s always super polite and very appreciated.”
“Gerry is a really friendly guy who does a great job cleaning the windows every week,” said Roxie. “Ashley and I always enjoy talking with him.”
Written by: Brian Kozak, Volunteer MVP Writer
Photo by: Jim Harvey, Volunteer MVP Photographer
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!