There are many things in this world that wouldn’t be possible without volunteers. They have a special way of caring, helping and dedication to really make a difference. With a small staff for such a large town, and a volunteer roster of about 30, the Toms River Animal Facility relies heavily on their volunteers. Jen and Carol are among these volunteers and are also persons served at Bancroft.
Bancroft, based in Haddonfield, NJ was founded in 1883. This nonprofit cooperation supports both children and adults with developmental challenges and acquired brain injuries.
“Bancroft strives to ensure that every person is given opportunities for lifelong learning and fulfillment. The organization does this by altering perceptions and supporting people with neurological challenges in achieving their life goals as valued and respected members of our world,” the Bancroft mission statement mandates.
One of the ways Bancroft connects their clients and the community is offering day programs. These break the normal routines of the clients, giving them a chance to explore their interests. Michael Webb, Employment Specialist for Bancroft in Brick since 2007 thought Carol and Jen’s passion for animals would be an ideal fit for volunteering at the Toms River Animal Facility, after being denied from previous shelters.
For the last two years Carol and Jen have been volunteering an hour each Friday from spring through fall. The staff and volunteers work closely with Carol and Jen who agree it’s one of the best parts of their day program and why they love coming to TRAF.
While Carol and Jen both love animals, they have their preferences. “I like dogs, but I love cats,” Carol says, as she unzips her jacket to reveal her cat sweater. “I’m Catwoman.”
“I love the dogs because they are playful,” Jen says representing the other end of the spectrum.
Cats or dogs, TRAF accommodates both interests. Carol spends her time inside working with TRAF longtime volunteers Marilyn Love and Carol Riccardi playing and giving the cats lots of affection. “We always have to check Carol’s bag as a joke to make sure there are no animals,” says Riccardi. Carol is just as happy taking pictures with her camera phone and sharing her photos with her peers when she returns from TRAF.
On the other hand, Jen spends her time playing with the dogs and working closely with Riccardi. She and the dogs play in a large fenced area in the back of the TRAF property. Jen also helps clean out the always overflowing dog toy box.
Webb brings Jen and Carol to the TRAF and observes them, “My personal reward is seeing their happiness, enjoyment, and contribution to the community,” he says. “I believe this opportunity has had a powerful impact for both Carol and Jen. Both look forward to each Friday.”
If Jen and Carol’s trip is cancelled due to inclement weather, they return asking about the animals (by name) and which have been adopted. Now that spring is approaching, Carol and Jen will be coming back to volunteer. “It’s really great that we can offer them this opportunity, Love says. “They love it and we love working with them. We share a lot of laughs and have good talks. They really care and understand the dedication it takes to take care of animals.”
Carol and Jen have the wonderful opportunity of getting hands on experience with the animals as part of their day program. They care so deeply for the animals and give members of TRAF so much more. “We look forward to their return and we would love them to continue volunteering as long as they like” says Jim Bowen Division Manager at TRAF.