One of the Humane Society of the United States’ greatest strengths is our army of volunteers. These are people across the country who take action in large numbers when we call upon them to help carry out our important work. Whether it involves gathering signatures for state ballot measures, reaching out to local media to promote our message, speaking in public, lobbying state and federal lawmakers, helping to operate temporary shelters after a rescue, leading a tour at a direct care center, or providing support at special events, these individuals make a difference every day for animals.
The HSUS has more than 2,000 active volunteers nationwide and in 2019 alone, those volunteers clocked over 90,000 hours of work for us. During the coronavirus pandemic, despite their own personal and professional challenges, they are stepping up to help us at a time when we need their help the most, with more dedication and determination than ever before.
In Michigan, for example, volunteer members of our State Council and District Leader programs teamed up with our state director Molly Tamulevich to help low income seniors procure food for their companion animals. Together, they mapped out and cross-referenced all of the housing sites with a map of local pet food banks. Volunteers also called housing managers to inform them where they could find local resources to support seniors with pets. The project was so successful that other state directors have since created similar projects in California, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia.
In Connecticut, State Council members and District Leaders have begun calling the 408 food pantries statewide to see which ones carry pet food. Working with state director Annie Hornish, they are compiling a database of municipal animal shelters and private shelters that are providing pet food to needy families. They’ll use Google Maps to pinpoint the shelter locations, making it easy for people to quickly identify the best sources of food and supplies for their pets’ needs.
Sanctuaries of all kinds are also in great need just now, and a host of volunteers stepped up to help Cheryl Jacobson in our equine campaign check in with sanctuaries in the Homes for Horses Coalition. Cheryl was moved by this help, and reports that the groups were incredibly grateful to hear from us and to know we cared about how they’re doing.
HSUS District Leaders are also keeping their eyes open for information on wildlife markets so we can address them as a policy matter in state legislative sessions. It is believed that the novel coronavirus originated in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, but the fact is that we have wildlife markets in the United States as well. Now more than ever, we must redouble our efforts to stop markets that cause immeasurable animal suffering globally and stateside.
Some of our volunteers are coming up with their own ideas to help animals, like State Council member Hope Philips in Texas who did a social isolation virtual walkathon with her dog, Pippa, raising $265 for the HSUS COVID-19 response.
If you’re willing we could use your help, too. There are many ways to volunteer with the HSUS—from helping out at our care centers and serving with our rescue and response teams to organizing events and grassroots outreach in your community and more. We have opportunities all around the country, and virtual, too, so you don’t even have to leave your home to have an impact.
During National Volunteer Week this week, we salute the amazing individuals who have chosen to support our work, and we applaud their verve and drive to make the world a better place for animals. If you are interested in volunteering for the HSUS, please sign up here. The animals need you, and we cannot do this important work without you.