Thursday, March 15, 2012

Madison County Cats: Interview with Beth Gammie

Thank you to Marcia Goodman, RedRover Responders volunteer and Communications Assistant, for keeping us updated on this deployment. Here, she reflects on Day 3 (March 1, 2012).

It was exciting this morning to find that many of the cats who arrived on Day 1 of the deployment have relaxed and started to become quite social. The volunteers are still so busy tending to the huge number of cats that we haven’t been able to socialize with them much, but today it was often hard for volunteers to clean some cages, because a number of the cats kept getting in our faces looking for attention and affection.

What an unusual deployment this has been so far! Usually at a deployment, by Days 3 and 4, daily care starts to get into a groove and the volunteers begin socializing with the rescued animals. However, cats have been arriving every day. For some cats, it’s Day 3; for the cats who arrived today, it’s Day 1.

So, for the volunteers, it’s hard to figure out what day of the deployment this is; it’s almost like a suspension of time.

I was chatting about this phenomenon this evening with Beth Gammie, Emergency Services Manager for RedRover, and our chat turned into something of an interview. I’ll devote the remainder of this blog entry to sharing part of that conversation.

Beth Gammie, RedRover Emergency Services Manager, coordinates with Shannon from the IFAW team.

I first met Beth before she joined the RedRover staff, when she was a RedRover Responders (then EARS) volunteer and we were both deployed to a response in Arizona. In addition to the regular deployment work, Beth and I shared the responsibilities of Communications Assistant, both writing the blog and taking photos. We developed a great working relationship and had a lot of fun too, and I was delighted when Beth became RedRover’s Emergency Services Manager.

Marcia: What was your first thought when RedRover was asked to be part of this deployment?

Beth: That it’s Florida and cats . . . again [referring to the RedRover deployment in Gainesville, Florida, alongside the Humane Society of the United States, when nearly 700 cats were rescued from a “sanctuary”]. Many of the same volunteers from different organizations are here, and it’s like old home week. We learned a ton from sheltering 700 cats in Gainesville.

Marcia:  So far, what’s been the best part of this deployment for you?

Beth: I could not be prouder of the RedRover Responders volunteers, and that’s among the best parts. The ASPCA knows that RedRover volunteers are of the highest quality, having a great work ethic. When people see the RedRover red shirts, they know they can count on us and not have to think about whether the job will get done; they know it will no matter how stressful the conditions.

The ASPCA gives me compliments about our volunteers all the time. That’s not my doing, but I’m very proud of it. And just this afternoon, an official with the Bay Area Diasaster Animal Response Team (“DART”) told me that she loves RedRover volunteers – their skill, their attitude, their commitment. When she sees a red shirt, she knows the calibre is up here [Beth points high up] and that’s gold.

Marcia: The volunteers have had a number of sudden changes to our assignments during this deployment.

Beth: Yes, and the flexibility of the RedRover Responders volunteers is also very special to me. Volunteers may be tasked to clean a particular area and then be interrupted to assemble crates because more cats were trapped and will soon arrive at the shelter. Every single RedRover Responders volunteer I've ever met takes these changes in stride. It never fails to inspire me.

Marcia:  What do you think is different about RedRover from other organizations for the volunteers?

Beth: I think one of the reasons RedRover is so successful is that we tap into our volunteer pool to do a lot more than other organizations allow. When I was a volunteer, I wrote the blog and took photographs and videos just like you’re doing now. Typically, organizations don’t let volunteers do that type of work. RedRover is eager to benefit from the talents and ingenuity of its volunteers, and the volunteers really appreciate the opportunity to help and excel at what they do.

Marcia: Let’s talk about the cats who were rescued.

Beth: It’s remarkable that we’ve been able to give hopeful futures to so many cats. That’s why we’re here. It’s really satisfying to see the cats who arrived on the first day getting settled in. You can see them starting to groom themselves and perking up. We’re looking forward to being able to spend more time with them.

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