My Sunday Service

(The following was written by Karen, a longtime Journey's End volunteer who, unfortunately for us, has moved out of the country due to a career opportunity. Although Karen is no longer able to volunteer, her article is still pertinent to anyone considering becoming a volunteer.)

Actually the "service" could be on Tuesday evenings, Saturday afternoons, or Thursday mornings — "When" doesn't matter — it is the "what" that makes a difference in your life.

I'm convinced that if everyone committed just two hours a week to help another person or animal, people would be warm and open and the world would be an infinitely better place.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at Journey's End Animal Sanctuary on Sunday mornings. The time I spend with Florence and the cast of animal characters has been far more rewarding for me than any assistance I have given. There is almost a sense of guilt as I leave each week. I'm giving my time in an effort to help — but the truth is, the love of the animals and Florence's laughter provide a sense of balance for me. Working at Journey's End helps me to relax and clear my head, as I get ready for the week ahead.

Intentionally I arrive early in the morning, which is a perfect time for "the challenge". Can I make it through the front door before I'm "spotted" and the barking begins? The canine residents enjoy taking turns sounding the "someone's here" alarm. The barking can go from one room to the other in a quick minute. If I'm quiet and fast I can make it inside and start the "petting process". I enjoy the tail wagging and "Pay Attention to me" — jumping up and down — before the welcome barks spread through the house.

Most Sundays I help with breakfast clean up and I'll feed those who are still waiting for their "vittles". No matter how early I arrive, Florence is already in full gear moving from one room to another and one animal need to another.

One very cold morning, Florence rushed by me saying Fire is down, and she handed me the phone and said, "when the vet calls back tell them to come immediately." Then Florence was out the door and by the side of the huge horse "Fire" in an instant. I cannot explain how impressed I was to see Florence's small frame — talking to the horse and prodding him to get up and walk. She walked Fire patiently and carefully around the yard for 20 minutes before the vet arrived. Had she not reacted so quickly and deliberately, I can only imagine what would have happened to Fire.

Florence is very focused on the animals but she also makes time for the volunteers. Florence has so many stories to tell, I really need to bring a tape recorder to get them all down. It warms my heart to hear her yell for quiet (and the animals listen) or watch her face glow as Lilo or Joey initiate tug of war and wrestling with Powder (a blind hound mix).

For those two hours a week, it's all about the animals, and the stress and worry of day-to-day life is far away. Journey's End provides an opportunity to:

Work hard for the animals;
Play hard with the animals;
and give to the creatures who are there, because other human beings did not appreciate all that they offer.

Regardless of when or where you volunteer, people helping others make better people. The personal gain in contributing without asking for any payment should not be underestimated.

There is so much to be done at Journey's End (and many other organizations across this nation) — your talents can easily be applied. Be assured there is enough Loving Payment (in the form of animal admiration) to go around. If you are interested in helping please contact us.

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