Andi Charles considered herself a dog person well into her 20s. But it was a cat named Willie, adopted from St. Hubert’s in 1991, that got her involved at the shelter. A few years after adopting Willie, Andi decided she wanted to volunteer. She remembers that Saturdays at the shelter were “a mob scene.” There wasn’t yet a structured volunteer program in place, so Andi would show up with freshly baked cookies or cake for the busy staff and ask, “What can I do to help?” She cleaned cages, started walking dogs, and did anything else that was asked of her.
Her compassion for, and dedication to, the cats grew, and with encouragement from staff Andi launched Feline Friends. She created a schedule and a newsletter, and trained volunteers. Two of them, Dawn Kleinfield and Amy Tefft, also went on to become some of St. Hubert’s most dedicated volunteers.
Amy remembers meeting Andi in October of 2008 when she came to the shelter to adopt a cat. “Our amazing adoption counselor was Andi. Her respectful stewardship of the animal/human bond made such a positive impression that, a few months later, I became a volunteer!”
Staff eventually assumed responsibility for running the Feline Friends program, but Andi’s dedication to cats, dogs and wildlife continued. She took an ACO course, volunteered in wildlife rehab, fostered (and foster failed), served as an adoption counselor and helped at numerous St. Hubert’s fundraisers, and took shelter cats and dogs for regular appearances on “The Pet Stop,” a half-hour weekly television show hosted by veterinarian (and St. Hubert’s board member) Dr. Brian Voynick.
Recently, Andi has enjoyed spending time walking dogs again. (She’s pictured here with Sparkette, who is still waiting for a home.) She appreciates that she can come to St. Hubert’s and indulge her love for both cats and dogs. And the cats and dogs at St. Hubert’s benefit greatly from her loving attention.
Andi says, “Volunteering at St. Hubert's has given me many opportunities to express my love for animals, including the ones I've adopted. I've met many people through the years and some have become lifelong friends. I hope I'm able to continue volunteering for many more years.”
Everyone at St. Hubert’s hopes so as well.