If you’ve come into the SPCA-HC and noticed a striking black cat reclining against a neatly arranged background of bright orange bedding, you’ve seen the work of Donna Holmes, a steadfast donor and shelter volunteer with a flair since 2016. It’s attention to details like this that help our animals catch adopter’s eyes, and an unwavering commitment to showing up for one of the most demanding volunteer shifts on Monday mornings—the deep clean shift—that make Donna so well known and respected by her SPCA colleagues. Like many SPCA-HC volunteers, Donna is an adopter, and also a financial supporter of the shelter.
For some people about to retire, the prospect of not having to get up early Monday morning to start the week at a demanding job is the pinnacle of retirement. Not Donna. Before retiring from a career that kept her at a desk all day, Donna knew that doing something physical at the SPCA was how she wanted to spend her volunteer time. But she wasn’t entirely prepared for the whirlwind of the shift she signed up for. “I walked in first [Monday] morning not knowing what I was getting myself into. Have you seen the shelter on Monday mornings when we do a deep cleaning and disinfecting of all the cat kennels, litter boxes, dishes? It’s a LOT of dishes! Well, I like to be busy when I’m working, and I like having a routine. Knowing I’m expected by staff and the kitties on Mondays is an important part of my life.” Now, Donna also helps to train newer volunteers, sharing her wealth of experience.
When asked how she chose to devote her time to the SPCA as a volunteer when there are so many worthy organizations in the area, Donna says it’s more than just her lifelong love for cats. “There are so many places that need volunteers, but my heart was here with animals.” It wasn’t long after starting as a volunteer that Donna and her husband decided to become donors as well. “It’s something I’ve always agreed on with my husband. These animals, and the nonprofits that help them need the money; there is simply not enough funding out there to support animals. So we try to give what we can financially, and I always know that my time here in addition to that, as a volunteer, means time the shelter doesn’t have to pay staff to do what I’m able to. No job is too small to matter and make a difference.”
It wasn’t until Donna went through a particularly challenging time that she realized just how important her Monday morning volunteer shift is. When undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Donna realized that the SPCA is her “happy place.” Of course, this means being with the cats, but also “the employees and other volunteers here; it’s amazing how much these people care about the animals and each other. Even when I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to during treatment, when I was able to come in for a shift, this is what really kept me going. Not ice cream or chocolate—it was being here at the SPCA!”
To anyone considering becoming a supporter, Donna has a few words of inspiration: “The animals can’t help themselves and rely on us to take care of them. This organization needs you. The animals are innocent and need to be loved and taken care of. Whether you do it financially, physically, or coming in once in a while to read to scared kitties, it all makes a difference! If all of us gave a little, it would add up.”