Have you seen our logo? We try to place it everywhere we can: photos, letterhead, cards, cups, shirts, hats, our building and vehicles. There's a dog and a cat along with our name and motto "Let Love Live".
Most people though, just see the dog, cat and "SPCA", so if you're a staff member or volunteer wearing an item bearing our logo in public, it's not uncommon for strangers to strike up a conversation with you.
Usually, it's a story about their pet(s), a sad story about a rescue, questions about their own animals that most of us are not qualified to answer, or questions about our adoptable pets. "Do you have any small-medium brown dogs who are good with kids?" "Got any long-haired cats that won't shed or claw my furniture?" "How about any laid-back hound types, got anything like that?"
When I get these questions, and try to explain that I don't usually work with the animals, they return a confused expression. "But, you work at the SPCA, right?"
Yes, I do. And while I do try to make at least weekly rounds through the adoption areas, and sometimes I can be seen taking a dog for a stroll around our building, the majority of my work is done away from the animals in our care.
There are plenty of others like me who work on the outside of animal welfare. The administrators, marketers, program developers, event coordinators, fundraisers, grant writers, public communicators, store managers, receptionists, operation overseers and general behind-the-scenes people. More often tied to a desk than to the end of a leash and stroking far more computer keys than furry heads.
We put pet photos and stories into the public eye, so homes can be found faster. We advertise specials, raise funds and ask for donations so we can continue to care for the pets in our shelter.
We hold events, talk to the media, write articles, run retail stores, order supplies, process paperwork, update databases, order supplies, balance books, make phone calls, send emails, oversee social media and website pages, recruit and train volunteers, help customers and much more.
Our work may be done away from the animals, but it is done entirely for the animals. It's not always what someone has in mind when deciding to volunteer or work for an animal welfare organization, but it's important work that must be done in order to keep an organization like ours running smoothly so we can continue our mission.
If you are interested in working for, but maybe not directly with, the animals, we have some opportunities for you!
As a volunteer, help is needed in our Thrift Shops. This volunteer position offers a fun, retail atmosphere in any of our three Aiken locations. Make your own schedule, from a couple hours per week to several days per week, our stores are open Monday - Saturday from 10am until 5pm.
Thrift Shop volunteers help customers at the register, keep the store clean, arrange window displays, sort, fold, clean, organize and price donated items, and answer the phone. Visit www.LetLoveLive.org/volunteer or www.LetLoveLive.org/thriftshops for information.
If you're interested in joining our staff, we have open positions for veterinary assistants in our clinic, and also a part-time position as our volunteer coordinator. Head over to www.LetLoveLive.org/jobs for information on the positions and how to apply.
And if you're not able to join our team as a volunteer or a staff member, but still want to help, please consider a donation. We have a holiday tree in our lobby decorated with gift ideas for the animals, or visit our website for other ways to give: www.LetLoveLive.org/donate.
If you'd prefer to stick to hands-on help, come out for a visit. Offer a pet, a scratch or a cuddle. Sign up to volunteer or consider fostering or adoption. It's all for the animals.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She previously held the role of Volunteer Coordinator and has a background in business administration. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her husband, Tom, mother, Cheryl and three adopted cats: Bastian, Eddie and Luna.