Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spotlight on a Special Volunteer

I submitted this essay to the American Humane Association in hopes of awarding a $1000.00 prize to Melissa, for all the wonderful work she has done for ferrets over the years. She will always be a winner in my book. Please read on...

Melissa poses with two ferrets "Mothership" and "Lula"

Melissa Williams is like no other young woman I know and probably not like anyone you are likely to meet. To name a single selfless act or event for the benefit or welfare of animals would not begin to describe the contributions that Melissa has made, nor would it demonstrate the kind of devotion, dedication, and perseverance that defines what a remarkable individual she is. At 14 years of age Melissa adopted her first ferret from The Ferret Inn and began volunteering. Most impressive was the determination she showed as she struggled to make arrangements to secure transportation to and from the shelter every Saturday – a round trip of more than 60 miles! She has adopted nine more ferrets, fostered an additional five ferrets, and comforted a few as they have “crossed over the Bridge”.

She has accompanied and assisted me in dozens of vet appointments. Her mature and inquisitive presence made it easy for the vet to allow her to observe a variety of surgical procedures performed on own her pet ferrets as well as on those that she has rescued and cared for. Melissa quickly became familiar with the procedures and protocols in the shelter and every name and case history of more than forty resident ferrets. She learned to perform triage on incoming animals and to provide a range of critical care tasks from syringe feeding to administering medications including sub-cutaneous fluids with confidence, accuracy, and absolute reliability.

Melissa was my first choice to be in charge for a week while I attended a seminar in Canada. Although only fifteen years old at the time she stayed at the shelter and performed the duties of shelter director, was directly responsible for all the shelter operations, and oversaw a crew of 4 to 6 others including adults. Her performance far exceeded anyone’s expectations but was par for the course for Melissa.

At seventeen Melissa trains new volunteers, attends ferret education seminars and adoptions days, helps in screening applicants for adoption, and performs pre-adoption home visits. Through education she helps to ensure that ferrets adopted from The Ferret Inn have the best chance of a successful match with loving and responsible owners. In addition to everything she does at the shelter she is an honor student, a softball coach, and a text message away when my memory fails me. She is a mentor, a role model, an example, a leader, and a friend. She is at the very least a unique and very special young woman.
Nancy Wilson, Director