Marsha S. - December 2019 Volunteer of the Month

Congratulations to Marsha S., nominated and chosen as a December 2019 Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) Volunteer of the Month. As a volunteer of fifteen years, Marsha’s philosophy is to focus on making the lives of animals better during their stay, and helping them find new adoptive homes where that can continue.

Learn more about the volunteer of the month program.

Searching for Dodger

Marsha’s volunteer journey began when her cat, Dodger, went missing. Marsha would visit the Troutdale animal shelter regularly, hoping that a good Samaritan or an animal control officer had brought him in as a stray. With each visit, Marsha met more and more cats in the kennels, and saw a need. On her third visit, she asked a volunteer holding a cat how to become a volunteer. Marsha filled out an application, interviewed with the volunteer coordinator, and eventually started volunteering. 

Marsha invited her next-door neighbor, Carol P.- also featured for December 2019- to volunteer with her.

After a short time volunteering, Marsha started to bond with a cat named Chance. “Every time I would leave and then come back, Chance would run to the front of the cage when I was there, and he heard my voice or smelled me.” After two other potential adopters passed up the chance to adopt Chance, Marsha put her name down, and adopted Chance on her birthday. “Since we didn’t know his actual birthday, that became his birthday too,” Marsha says. “I didn’t find Dodger, but I found so much more.”

Watching the Magic Happen

For Marsha, the greatest part of volunteering is being the catalyst for animals to find new adoptive homes. “It’s a wonderful thing to make a difference to send a cat home with a family or a person that makes a connection. Just to watch that magic happen where you put this animal into someone’s lap, and you see the relationship take shape before your eyes, and knowing that they’ll be happy for a long time,” Marsha says. “You’ve changed a person’s life and an animal’s life in a matter of minutes, and you were instrumental in making that happen. It makes you appreciate the process. If the shelter wasn’t there, it never would have come together. It’s just really nice to see.”

A Home for Popeye

Marsha recalls a one-eyed, twelve-year-old cat named Popeye who was staying in one of the large walk-in colony rooms, waiting nine months for an adopter. “This cat had hair like Rod Stewart, if you can imagine. He had grey fur that stuck straight up no matter how much he was brushed,” Marsha says. Popeye wasn’t a looker- “he was uglier than a mud fence”- but he was certainly a lover. “If I could have taken Popeye home, I would have, but I was at my cat quota!”

One day, a senior woman walked in the cattery looking for a new companion- a cat she could hold and cuddle. Marsha suggested that she sit with Popeye to give him some TLC and attention, crossing her fingers that his nine-month stay would end. The adopter emerged from the colony room and stated that she had found her cat. The two went home together and Popeye didn’t return. 

“It was a shining moment for me,” Marsha says, “because that cat needed her, and she needed him. They went off into the sunset together, and I know they had a good time just sitting on the couch watching Jeopardy together till the end of their days. I cried all the way home after he got adopted, because he was just a mess and needed the right person to take him home. There’s a seat for every saddle. They belonged together and it was wonderful to see. That was ten years ago, but it doesn’t get better than that.”

It’s About the Animals

Marsha’s advice for those interested in volunteering is to follow the rules- “even though I didn’t always follow the rules!” Marsha says “the biggest thing is just working well with the other volunteers and staff on your shift. Work as a team- it’s about the animals, and not about you. Ask yourself if your actions or attitude will help a cat or dog be adopted, and use that as your measure. That’s what we’re here for- to make their lives better- stay focused on that. Keep their enclosures clean and comfortable, offer comfort and socialize them. Do everything you can to find them a home.”

Thank you, Marsha, for your dedicated, positive service for the people and pets of Multnomah County!

December 2019 Nominees

Thank you to our stellar volunteers nominated for the December 2019 Volunteer of the Month!

  • Daphna A.
  • Regina H.
  • Ally R.
  • Amanda T.
Volunteer of the Month
Marsha S, December 2019 volunteer of the month
Woman sitting with a cat on her lap
Marsha with Bourbon, the cat