Volunteers are the backbone of the Nova Scotia SPCA; the organization could not do its life-saving work without these selfless dedicated individuals. April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and we wanted to take this opportunity to honour and applaud the work of all our amazing volunteers throughout the province.
I caught up with Paula Hasler, a loyal SPCA volunteer for over 15 years! Paula shared “I joined the SPCA team because of my strong belief in the organization and its mission. Over the years, I was happy to do whatever was needed, whatever would help. I served as team lead for dog walkers, did laundry, picked up donated dog food and participated in most fund-raisers – anywhere it would take us. It was particularly exciting for me when it was announced that a Kings County Thrift Store would become a reality and to be able to help bring that dream to life.”
Paula’s involvement started while the Thrift Store was under construction. She was literally on the ground floor of this important initiative. And she enlisted the help of her entire family in the labour of love to bring the Thrift Store to fruition. “My daughter Shannon and son-in-law Mark did many hours of needed prep work – painting, cleaning and putting up shelving units,” related Paula. “My husband Dave and son Ryan also joined in during the grunt work stage of things. Once the store was up and running, Shannon and Mark became familiar faces with Shannon accepting donations, sorting and on cash. Mark was busy in the back sorting, testing our electronics, audio equipment, toys and games.”
The volunteer spirit definitely runs in Paula’s family. She explained “For us, the Kings Thrift Store has become a family affair. I raised our children to feel empathy and respect for animals, as I believed this important life lesson would help them become the best adults of tomorrow. Children who are kind and gentle to animals are more likely to be respectful and empathetic to people.” Paula continued “Shannon and Mark were also very active volunteers at the Kings Shelter, but unfortunately with the advent of Covid, they had to take a step back as Shannon works in healthcare with vulnerable people and couldn’t risk being infected.”
Paula noted that “Every day at the Thrift Store is new and exciting. Greeting and meeting our loyal customer base is amazing, as the majority of our clients are animal lovers themselves. We get to meet their current pets, hear about the beloved pets they have lost and share in their passion for their animals. In addition to day-to-day store operation, I love participating in store events like setting up displays, helping with in-store fund-raisers like bake sales and lottery ticket sales.”
Community support for the Kings Thrift Store is strong. “We are very fortunate to have the support of a local hardware store that generously donates their write-offs to us for resale,” Paula explained. “I make weekly and sometimes bi-weekly trips to pick up these goods and bring them to the store. Their generosity is a tremendous boost to our financial bottom line every month.”
Ask any volunteer and they’ll tell you how rewarding the experience is. Paula is no exception. “Volunteering at the SPCA’s Waterville Shelter and now at the Kings Thrift store has been a very rewarding venture,” she beamed. “It has provided me with a natural sense of pride and identity and is a boost to my self-esteem and life satisfaction, knowing I am contributing to my local community. Volunteering also brings together a diverse range of people from all walks of life, creating new and wonderful friendships. It makes my heart smile to know we’re helping animals in the community.”
Paula encourages everyone to consider volunteering at one of the Nova Scotia SPCA’s four Thrift Stores in the province. “If you want to work in a fast-paced environment, meet new people, learn new skills, be part of a great community and make a difference in the lives of homeless animals, grab a volunteer application the next time you’re at the Thrift Store or apply online – you won’t regret it!”