October Volunteer of the Month: Ellen Houser

Ellen's cat, Sayla
October 8, 2020

Pictured here is Ellen's cat, Sayla. Learn more about Ellen below!

When did you start volunteering at PAWS?

I began volunteering at PAWS in the summer of 2014.

What jobs/roles have you performed at PAWS?

The responsibilities I have had at PAWS include: developing and posting educational materials each month on the cat bulletin board in the PAWS lobby; designing posters used for youth events like the PAWS Summer Program, PAWSome Kids' Club, and children's birthday parties; assisting at monthly spay and neuter clinics for cats and dogs; serving as a pet partner to help socialize shy cats; fostering cats during PAWS closures (holiday and COVID-19); caring for feline residents at PAWS; conducting long-term follow-ups on adoptions to learn how cats have adapted in their new homes; and contributing articles on a monthly basis when PAWS maintained a blog on pet care topics. Additionally, I have had brief stints working at the reception desk, staffing a table at the PAWS yard sale, transporting cats to and from veterinary appointments, and delivering Valentine's Day gift baskets to show our appreciation to area veterinary offices.

What do you currently do as a volunteer?

I currently develop and post educational materials each month on the cat bulletin board in the PAWS lobby, design posters used for youth events, assist at monthly spay and neuter clinics for cats and dogs, serve as a pet partner to help socialize shy cats, and foster cats during PAWS closures.

Why do you volunteer at PAWS?

I have a deep and abiding respect for companion animals and the people who love them. I appreciate the commitment that PAWS makes to the cats and dogs in our care as well as the many services offered by PAWS such as low-cost spay and neuter clinics, a pet pantry to assist people having difficulty feeding their animals, and programs aimed at engaging and educating youth. All of these efforts build strong community values that mirror the mission of PAWS. As a pet partner, spending time with cats at PAWS helps satisfy my desire to have another cat. My cat Sayla, a PAWS adoptee, is a senior who seems happiest as our one and only.

When you're not at PAWS, what do you like to do with your time?

I enjoy spending time with my spouse who is a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician. We have taken ballroom dancing lessons for years. We are fans of women's roller derby and regularly attend State College Area Roller (SCAR) Derby bouts. In addition to PAWS, I donate my time at Centre Volunteers in Medicine, a non-profit organization that provides free medical and dental care, medications, and case management services to uninsured people living or working in Centre County. I determine eligibility for prospective patients based on income and other established guidelines. I also train new people on how to provide eligibility screening.

What do you like best about being a PAWS volunteer? What do you find to be the most rewarding?

I love learning, and I learn something new every month as I conduct research on a topic for the cat bulletin board in the PAWS lobby. Acquiring new knowledge often leads me to change my behavior. For example, after exploring the subject of feline dental health for one of the displays, I bought a pet toothbrush and some chicken-flavored toothpaste for my cat. I appreciate the opportunity to develop interesting, informative, eye-catching materials; to improve my visual communication skills; and to work independently.

If someone asked you why they should volunteer at PAWS, what answer would you give?

There are so many ways that people can contribute to the mission of PAWS at the adoption center itself, out in the community, or from home. If you're interested in animals, there's a place for you at PAWS.