DOBSON — Following last week’s meeting with representatives of the Humane Society of the United States, county animal shelter officials are taking the message of communication and cooperation to heart.
And they aren’t just offering lip service, but showing they are serious about the prospect by naming a worker to serve as a coordinator for the expected influx of volunteers.
Samantha Ange, director of the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees shelter operations, and Gary Brown, director of the animal shelter, announced Monday that new employee Corey Quesinberry will serve as volunteer coordinator for the shelter.
Ange said the standing-room-only turnout at the meeting last Thursday opened her eyes to the kind of passion for animal welfare exhibited by the crowd, noting that the time for bickering is over.
“To get anywhere, communication (between shelter employees and animal welfare advocates) has to happen,” she said. “There were people there who had really good ideas.”
Ange suggested that years of battling each other with repetitive “he said, she said” have been unproductive.
“It’s time for synergy right now,” she said, noting that appointing Quesinberry to the coordinator’s job is a first for the shelter.
“We’ve taken this project and made it a part of someone’s actual job,” she said. “This is the first ever volunteer coordinator in the history of the Surry County Animal Shelter. We’ve had volunteers before, but never someone whose job it is to coordinate volunteer efforts.”
And Ange said that everything possible will be done to accommodate everyone who wants to help out at the shelter, but noted that it won’t be as simple as just walking into the shelter and going to work.
“The first volunteer training class will be held on Sept. 3, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Human Services Building in Mount Airy (the old Lowe’s building),” she said.
Brown said the process of credentialing volunteers will require the class, which will help explain the county’s rules and regulations, guidelines and safety issues.
“Once they go through the class, we’re looking forward to working closely with them,” he said. “This is going to be more of a streamlined process. I think some people may think that you just sign up and come in, but there will be a process of learning and working toward their strengths, but we want everyone to be involved.”
It was a sentiment that Ange echoed.
“We understand that people have different gifts and strengths to work with, and Corey will try to organize it and play to people’s strengths and interests who want to assist,” she said.
Brown said that following Thursday’s meeting more than 20 people have signed up to volunteer at the shelter.
“(They) seem to be excellent potential volunteers,” Brown said with a smile. “They’re positive, passionate people who seem to understand that they have to start where we are and work with us. This is going to take effort on their part and effort on our part, but I’m thrilled with some of the names. This is truly a good pool of people.”
Ange said that while the county has had volunteers before, the group of people will be more than welcome.
“This will give the volunteer program a jump start with new, fresh volunteers, and we’re truly excited about this opportunity,’ she said.
A Productive Gathering
County officials called Thursday’s meeting “productive,” noting that the quality of volunteers speaks volumes about the passion for animals in the county.
“I was very pleased to see there are people who actually want to help us,” Ange said. “This can be a very positive thing, and we’re going to reach out to them to make things better down at the shelter. Anything we can do to make things better, we’re all for.
“I think that people love animals, and we want that kind of passion to be there and we want it to multiply,” she said, noting that the meeting opened her eyes as well.
“People can change, and there are things we can do better,” Ange added. “But bringing the two groups together and working cooperatively for the animals is something we always want to do.
“I’m excited about the future, and we were really excited about (last week’s) meeting,” she said. “We wanted it to be for the people. This wasn’t about us, this was about allowing the volunteers to be heard. This was their meeting.”
Thomas Williams, communications director for the Health and Nutrition Center, summed up the county’s position succinctly.
“This is going to be a great opportunity to blend passion and action,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.