Get to know our April volunteer of the month: Bridgette Zerbe!
When did you start volunteering at PAWS?
I started volunteering at PAWs in March of 2016 during the second semester of
my freshman year at Penn State. The hardest part about going to college for me was
leaving all of my animals behind. I was so used to being surrounded by my 2 dogs and 4
cats so not having any animals in my dorm room felt very strange. I was so happy when I
found out about PAWs and I started volunteering as soon as I could.
What jobs/roles have you performed at PAWS?
Initially, I was a floor volunteer, but when the opportunity to become a shift
leader came up, I jumped on it right away. I’ve been the shift leader on the Thursday PM
shift since fall of 2016.
I was also a foster, but only for a short period of time because I ended up adopting
the first cat, oops! I adopted Tango, who was actually my favorite kitty at PAWs when I
was freshman, but because I was living in the dorms, I was unable to adopt him. When I
started back up volunteering at the beginning of this school year, I saw that he had been
returned to the shelter and I decided that it was meant to be!
What do you currently do as a volunteer?
As shift leader, I take care of medicating all of the cats and preparing the special
food. I usually have a lot of help on the Thursday PM shift so I delegate tasks to the other
volunteers and answer any questions that they may have. When new volunteers come in, I
do a mentor shift with them and run them through where things are, what their
responsibilities are, etc.
Why do you volunteer at PAWS?
I started volunteering as a freshman because I was homesick and PAWs was one
of the only places at school where I felt completely comfortable and happy. Now, I have
my cat at my apartment, but I continue to come back every Thursday because I just
absolutely love being around animals. Volunteering is my therapy… I can forget about
school for a few hours and just enjoy myself.
When you're not at PAWS, what do you like to do with your time?
I’m a junior biology major at Penn State and I work as an EMT on campus. When
I’m not studying, I enjoy running/working out and cuddling with Tango, of course!
What do you like best about being a PAWS volunteer? What do you find to be the
We have some stray cats that come to PAWs in pretty rough shape. Some of them
are initially scared to death of humans, but in just a few weeks they’re begging for head
scratches and belly rubs. It’s incredible how resilient some of these mistreated animals
are and watching them recover week after week is very rewarding.
If someone asked you why they should volunteer at PAWS, what answer would you
Once you start you won’t want to stop! I used to joke with my family and say
that I was going to move into the shelter so that I never had to leave. The volunteers and staff members are so friendly, the cats are hilarious and you’ll leave feeling like
you’ve made a difference. To homesick college students I would say, get involved now! Volunteering at
PAWs completely turned around my college experience and gave me something to
look forward to every week.