VOTM - Mary Baker

Featured Volunteer: Mary Baker

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AARCS Featured Volunteer:

Mary Baker

A word from Mary:

I am honoured to be chosen as AARCS’ volunteer of the month. I am so very proud to be part of the wonderful AARCS family. My love of animals began – when I was born! I have always loved animals. I believe whole heartedly that all our animal friends deserve to be treated with love, care, respect, and compassion.

When I retired from teaching in 2014, I knew I wanted to contribute to our community in some kind of volunteer capacity. AARCS is my choice because I see how much this amazing organization cares about the welfare of animals and does everything it can not only to help animals, but educate people.

My work with the AARCS Education team is extremely rewarding. I experience firsthand the impact community outreach has on spreading the message of “changing lives through kindness”. I also love my shifts at the cat shelter, and I am currently fostering a sweet little kitty who is recovering from dental surgery. Every life that is saved brings me joy.

Thank you, AARCS, for making a difference and giving me the opportunity to make a difference, too!

A word from our Volunteer Manager:

We are pleased to announce our Volunteer of the Month, for the Month of March, Introducing Mary! Mary had been a part of the AARCS team since 2014, and has been active in many different areas, primarily participating in Education events and as part of our Cat Caregiver team.
As an experienced Cat Caregiver, Mary plays a huge part not only in the care of the cats while on shift, but also helps in the development and training of new volunteers!
In addition to that, Mary has been an amazing asset to our Education and Outreach Program. This program is is essential to delivering the message to youth on the importance of caring for animals!
We would like to thank Mary for all the time she has invested into the organization and the animals we care for! Thank you Mary!
Rachel Howard
Volunteer Manager


Featured Volunteer: Kim McLeish

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AARCS Featured Volunteer: Kim McLeish, Cat Foster Home Coordinator

Over the course of the past 15 years or so, I have been involved with a few different rescue groups, in many different roles.  But they were more of the “grass roots” variety, with a small number of animals and essentially one or two people doing almost everything.  When I joined AARCS, at first I felt very much like a country girl coming to the big city for the first time.  Everything was so structured and organized, with just an astonishing number of volunteers – not to mention an actual shelter that could house incoming animals!  Amazing!
When I first came to the cat program, we had about 100 cats at any given time.  In the two years I have been here, I have proudly watched the cat program blossom into a force to be reckoned with, now often accommodating up to 400 cats at a time!   Sometimes I sit back and just shake my head in wonder at everything we have all achieved together.   I am so glad to have this fulfilling role, which is such a huge part of my life.  My world has been graced simply by knowing and caring for so many of these incredible animals and my heart has been so enriched by meeting so many caring, heartwarming people here!






Featured Volunteer: Jean Ellis

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AARCS Featured Volunteer: Jean Ellis

After working for more years than I care to mention, I knew when I retired I’d have to do something to keep myself busy. Volunteering has always been a part of my life, both through organizing and participating in fundraising events, so I knew this was something I definitely wanted the pursue further in my retirement.  One of the best things I did was contact AARCS to see how I could help the organization through volunteering. Having two cats of my own, I knew the role of cat care volunteer was custom made for me.  I’ve met so many wonderful people since joining the AARCS family and the people I’ve worked with during my regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning shifts has been named the “dream team” by one of the volunteers and she actually named a litter of kittens after us. I have a special place in my heart for the Safe Haven cats and have to admit there are a few that have really tugged at my heart strings. I can’t bring them all home, but I enjoy giving them as much love as possible during my brief time with them at the shelter.

Volunteering at AARCS has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. To see so many cats leave Safe Haven for loving homes is amazing and I’m living in a constant state of “warm fuzzies”.

Jean Volunteer 2



Featured Volunteer: Karen Middleton

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AARCS Featured Volunteer: Karen Middleton, Cat Shelter Coordinator

In the Fall of 2013 I was feeling the need to start volunteering in animal rescue again, after taking a long hiatus from volunteering of any kind.  I had been heavily involved with another great local rescue group for several years and really missed it.  I had heard great things about AARCS (all true!!) and Safe Haven is close to my house so I decided to give it a try – the rest is history!
In my previous rescue days I was focused solely on dogs, so this time I wanted to devote myself to working with cats.  I have five cats of my own and love them dearly, so it’s been a real pleasure to care for cats of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Last Fall I started fostering cats with minor medical issues (mostly those recovering from Upper Respiratory Virus) and we adopted our first foster, Minx.
I find my time at AARCS is a great balance to my career as a petroleum landman – it gets me out of the office and allows me to put my leadership and organizational skills to good use in a way that gives something back to the community.  I have met many wonderful people during my time at AARCS and made some great new friends.  Rescue people are the most devoted, committed group of individuals I’ve had the honour to work with!
Through my association with AARCS I began volunteering with the Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force and was privileged to work at several clinics last year and at a few this year so far.  It’s hard work but extremely rewarding and AARCS is a big part of the clinics’ successes.
My husband Wayne, while not an “official” cat caregiver, enjoys volunteering at the shelter when his busy work schedule permits so it’s something that we can do together – kind of a middle-aged couple’s version of Date Night!
I look forward to being a part of AARCS’s growth as an organization and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us!


Karen Middleton - VOM August





Featured Volunteer: Anna Thompson

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AARCS introduces Anna Thompson

What AARCS Has To Say

This beautiful soul, is Anna. For those of you who have had the opportunity to meet her, you know that Anna has a heart of gold. For MANY years, Anna has dedicated her life to AARCS and the furry ones we save, not only as a valued and integral part of the Rescue Team, but also as a board member. Over the years, Anna has put tens of thousands of kilometres in rescuing animals, often accompanied by her mom, Vi, who you may have seen on the AARCS Facebook Page.
In addition to her already busy schedule on the road, Anna has been the AARCS Treasurer for many years. Board Meetings, endless amount of paperwork, bills and everything in between, Anna handled it! While she has recently stepped away from that role, we can not thank her enough for the endless hours she invested.
Words can simply not express how much we LOVE Anna. She is always such a joy to have around and chat with! Anna, thank you so much for everything you have done for AARCS and the animals! We love you!!!





Featured Volunteer: Rhonda Kohnen

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AARCS introduces Rhonda

What AARCS Has To Say

We are pleased to announce our Volunteer of the Month, for the Month of May, is Rhonda! Rhonda joined our team in January of 2013, and has remained an active part of our team in many different areas.

Rhonda has been a huge part of our Education and Outreach Program, visiting schools and youth around the city, educating them on the importance of caring for animals. Thanks to the Education Team, Rhonda and Allison, our Education Coordinator, this program has seen tremendous growth, reaching thousands of kids in 2014.

In addition to the AARCS Education Program, Rhonda also works here in our shelter with the cats as a caregiver. Over the past few years, Rhonda has played an important role in caring for the cats staying here at Safe Haven. As a shift leader, Rhonda provides training to our New Cat Caregivers.

Thank you Rhonda for all of your hard work! We hope you will be around for a long time to come!

A Few Words From Rhonda

It was destiny for me to become part of the AARCS family. A few years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to “save more souls”… and by this I meant of the furry persuasion. Animals of all sorts have been an integral part of my entire life and I, as well as my extended family, have rescued many sweet little souls over the years. But I wanted to step it up a notch so low and behold, AARCS presented itself! I started volunteering with AARCS in 2013; first as a cat caregiver at the shelter, a transporter, a special events volunteer and as part of the education team. This quickly led to a “go big or go home attitude” so I got into fostering and front-line rescue as well. Both of my feline family members (Smudge and Tigger) are pre-AARCS rescues and the lovely Jozie, who is supposedly a silver lab, was rescued by AARCS in Jan 2014. I don’t care for the term “foster failure”, but rather prefer to describe it as a “short term foster success”. Jozie simply looked into my eyes and soul…and as they say, the rest is history!

I have enjoyed so many aspects of being part of an amazing organization such as AARCS, for example:

  1. The direct involvement with the little ones and the feeling of being able to make a positive difference in so many furry lives is both humbling and rewarding.
  2. There is always the hope that what we do every day and in every way…with respect to partnerships, prevention, intervention and education… will make a big difference in many animals’ lives, as well as in the communities and families in which these little ones live.
  3. And last, but not least, I have enjoyed meeting so many like-minded people (other volunteers, AARCS’ staff and partner organizations), which continues to give me confidence that many of us truly care about creating a better world for all of its members…and it will indeed happen!

Rhonda Kohnen

Rhonda Kohnen

Rhonda Kohnen