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!
MVP: Diane Frazer
Story by Brian Kozak, photo by Jim Harvey
When she retired from a career in banking, Diane Frazer’s life-long love for animals – cats in particular – made her decision to volunteer at the Winnipeg Humane Society easy.
Since beginning her WHS stint in March 2015, Diane has put in almost 600 volunteer hours, mostly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, working with the cats. Today she is a cat condo assistant, helping visitors in the cat condos and providing enrichment to the cats when the opportunity presents itself.
“Initially when I started here and looking at volunteering I was thinking of working with dogs,” she said. “I then realized that I’ve got a bit of a bum knee, so walking dogs was probably wasn’t a wise decision.
“I just love animals period, so the natural thing was working with cats.” Diane grew up in a house with dogs and then, after getting married and having a daughter, had the ‘normal assortment of critters – including budgies, hamsters and fish.’
“And then our daughter got a little older and wanted a pet – a bigger pet that she could actually touch,” Diane explained. “Initially she wanted a dog but we discouraged that. We said she had a dog that lived at her grandparents’ place and that it would probably be fair to look at having a cat. My husband had always had cats around growing up.”
Father and daughter made it their mission to find a cat. Once found, they would let Diane meet the one they chose. “After some looking in a number of places they stumbled upon a cat in Petland and they made the connection. An orange cat that got to be named Cheerio who we had for almost 20 years.”
Cheerio was mainly an indoor cat, but did spend some time outdoors, Diane said. “We would put him on a harness on an expandable leash and he would go into our fenced back yard and he would play around in the garden while we were out gardening.
“He loved both my husband and my daughter but Cheerio eventually became my cat,” Diane laughed. “When I would sit down on the chesterfield it was my lap he was on.”
“I spent my entire career in banking,” she pointed out. “I worked my way up to management, then took some time off and had our daughter, then came back permanent part-time and I ended up in customer service.
“I’ve always dealt with people and loved it. When the opportunity came up to be a cat condo assistant it felt like a natural fit to have my involvement with the cats and work with the public.
Diane calls her role as cat condo assistant “the best of both worlds – on a quiet day you get the enrichment with the cats and you still get to work with the public, so it’s a nice split.”
She has the utmost respect for the staff and volunteers at the WHS. “I work with absolutely wonderful staff and volunteers – they make it such a pleasure to come in,” she pointed out. “The volunteers that I see on both Tuesday and Wednesday are both a great bunch and the staff – if you have a question you can just toss it out there and there’s someone who can quickly give you an answer. The support is excellent.”
Her dedication to the animals and to the WHS has not gone unnoticed by staff and her fellow volunteers (this writer included). “Diane embraced our Cats 101 program learning more about their behaviour so she can make the perfect match with potential adopters,” said Kelle Greene, Manager, Volunteer Services. “She has a warm and friendly personality that makes this role a perfect fit.”
“One of the most enjoyable aspects is working with cats that you’ve seen for a number of weeks and that you have become attached to,” Diane said. “You come in and that just happens to be the particular day when a visitor comes in to visit the cat and you see the connection and its just ‘Wow!’” She says she’s seen occasions where visitors say they’re not really looking but suddenly a connection is there and a cat gets adopted.
“One time, a fellow came in and picked a kitten he was going to adopt,” she continued. “We were kidding with him because there were two kittens in that condo and they were very attached. He came back 15 minutes later. He took the other name down and said ‘You’re right. I’m adopting both of them.’ He left with a grin.”
Diane has noticed an increase in the number of out-of-town visitors to the shelter and their impression of the facility. “One family from the southern U.S. came in recently,” she explained. “They were in town because their daughter was starting university here. They had volunteered at their local humane society and they were amazed at the facility and the people here.
“That’s why having people coming in for a visit – even if they’re not looking to adopt at this point in time – is important. The way I look at it is they may see a cat that they can tell a friend about. Or if they’re impressed with the facility they may talk it up to people. And that way we potentially get more traffic and more donations.”