During May, we’ll continue the celebration of our wonderful and generous volunteers that we started during Volunteer Appreciation Month in April. We’re featuring a cross-section of the hundreds of volunteers who contribute time to the SW Washington American Red Cross.
Today’s story is about Charli Anderson, who was the first Pet Partner for SW Washington Red Cross.
Red Cross: What made you decide to volunteer with the Red Cross?
Charli: I love people, I love going for walks and I love getting treats. Volunteering as a Pet Partner with the Red Cross allows me to visit veterans at the Vancouver VA facility where I can combine all three!
Red Cross: How long have you been with the Red Cross?
Charli: I’ve been a Pet Partner with the SW Washington Region for 12 years (that’s almost 2 in people years)!
Red Cross: What has been your biggest challenge while working with the Red Cross?
Charli: During the past year, I’ve lost most of my vision. And while it’s a challenge to get around in new places, I‘ve got a great sense of smell and that helps me out a lot. Having vision problems also helps me to relate to the veterans who are dealing with their own health issues.
Red Cross: What volunteer opportunity within the Red Cross gives you the most satisfaction?
Charli: Visiting at the VA facility. I love feeling the warm hands pet me and scratch my head.
Red Cross: What types of Red Cross activities have you participated in?
Charli: I visit veterans at the Vancouver VA facility. Currently, we visit the hospice wing and several rehab wings (it’s all pretty confusing for me but my partners know where we’re going).
My partners and I have also represented the Red Cross at the Tour de Lab in Portland, and we walked with other Red Cross volunteers and personnel in the Memorial Day parade to thank our Veterans for their service.
Red Cross: What other types of Red Cross activities would you like to participate in?
Charli: I’d like to go on a regional deployment with my partners. I could really help to calm children and adults who are staying in a shelter by letting them pet me (while they feed me treats), scratch me (while they feed me treats), and cuddle with me (while they feed me treats).
Red Cross: What’s your favorite Red Cross story?
Charli: When we started visiting at the Vancouver VA in 2010, we met a veteran who I really liked from the start, and I know he liked me, too. He was missing his small dog and I think I was able to fill that empty spot…if only a little bit.
He had a bit of a Southern accent and always called me “Miss Charli” so that everyone would know I was a female Lab. Every time we walked into the room, he’d give me a big smile and say “How’s Miss Charli today?” His laugh was loud and infectious – when he laughed, so did everyone else.
Red Cross: What piece of advice would you give new volunteers or pets who are thinking of volunteering with the Red Cross?
Charli: Wag your tail a lot – people like that. Oh, and remember not to cross that center line when you’re going through the Pet Partner’s final exam!
Filed under: Pet Partners, Volunteer Appreciation Month | Tagged: American Red Cross, Delta Society, Pet Partners, Pet Therapy, Pet volunteers, Red Cross, Therapy pet, Vancouver, Vancouver VA Hospital, Volunteer, Volunteer Appreciation Month, Yellow Labrador | Leave a Comment »