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January 16, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society

Ohlone Humane Society

Glancing back while leaping forward

By David Anderson, RVT & Center Manager of OHSWRC

The Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center has survived its seventh season of raising and rehabilitating orphaned and injured wildlife of the Tri-City area. We have managed to provide this service to Fremont, Newark and Union City through the hard work, commitment, compassion and dedication of our volunteers. The work we do would not be possible without each and every one of them. Also, our services would not be possible if not for supportive community members whose generosity allows us to operate and fulfill our mission reuniting (whenever possible), raising and rehabilitating 1,200 to 1,500 animals that come through our doors in need of our care and attention. They are then returned to the wild.

I have been honored to work with the wildlife of Tri-City for the past five years. Each and every animal has a purpose and a unique role on earth in their special ecosystems and diverse habitats. Working with wildlife has taught me so much about myself, others and the world around me. Most importantly, it has taught me to stop and think before I act. Every action has a consequence. Our actions affect not only those around us, but all living things on this planet. We must respect and teach our children from a very young age just how precious life is and that compassion for all living things is an essential foundational tool. Nature and its creatures provide us with amazement, amusement, joy, laughter and many valuable lessons. Whether young or old it warms our hearts to be a part of it as I witnessed first hand this year at the wildlife center.

Not only do we work with the animals at OHS Wildlife, but we work with many community based organizations (i.e. - high schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, QUEST students, CHANGE Project students and daily public interaction). This year, we even worked with a group of 15 very special ladies with Early Stage Alzheimer's. When approached with the idea by one of our volunteers to have these ladies come visit the center for a day, I was hesitant to oblige. After twisting my arm and lots of planning, we set a date on the calendar for these 15 special ladies to come spend a couple of hours with us. The night before and the morning of their visit to the center, I was extremely anxious and nervous. We had to call in extra volunteers that day for their visit because not only did we have the regular tasks to attend to such as feeding the babies in the nursery, but we all had to assign every three or four ladies to an individual volunteer to monitor their safety and wellbeing while visiting with us.

We set up several activity stations in the middle portion of the center, gave tours of the center and showed a slide presentation. One activity station for the ladies was to build and decorate their own "backyard bird feeder pine cone" to take back with them. At the other station, they made newspaper nests of all sorts of imaginable shapes and sizes; some of which I don't think Mother Nature herself could even replicate. This station was where they contributed to the care of our wildlife by making and providing soft and comfortable newspaper nests for baby birds in the absence of their own. The smiles that graced their faces and their happiness will forever be one of my most treasured memories. Being Early Stage Alzheimer's ladies, the director of the assisted living home where they reside, reported that it was the longest duration of time in which they had maintained a single focus and concentration.

Many of the ladies remember visiting the center and some ask when they can return for another visit. One sleepless, anxious morning for me and the time of the volunteers in preparation and participation for their visit was worthwhile to have brought these very special ladies a couple hours of joy, laughter, smiles and memories.

A week after their visit, I received hand written letters from each of them thanking us for allowing them to come visit and learn about the animals. It is I that thank them for providing me the memory of a lifetime.

We were also blessed this year to have Fremont Scout Troop #449 (led by David Hess in pursuing his Eagle Scout Award) construct a brand new outdoor aviary for the pigeons we care for. This enclosure is twice the size of its predecessor which was quickly becoming too small to serve its purpose. It is comparable to a Pigeon Penthouse on Park Avenue or a Pigeon Palace, whichever you prefer.

The hard work and time invested not only the troop, but their families as well is greatly appreciated by OHS Wildlife and the pigeons that will be taking up lodging in their new luxurious accommodations. It was more than we could have hoped for. David Hess and his Scout Troop did an amazing job. We extend our gratitude for this outstanding, well done, job.

Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center swings into full operation from April 1 through Sept. 1. You MUST be 16 years of age to volunteer as a wildlife care volunteer. Orientations and training begin in mid-March. If you are interested in volunteering please contact our volunteer coordinator, Angela Hartman via email at ohswildlife@yahoo.com. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact us (510) 797-9449 and leave us a message. Please remember we are a volunteer organization and we will return your calls as promptly as possible. Thank you to all the members of the Tri-City communities for your continued support and generosity. It is much appreciated.

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