RASKC Volunteer eNews | Issue 5 | July 2017

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RASKC in the News

RASKC king 5

RASKC recently received a *$75,000 grant from Petco Foundation. The award came shortly after RASKC was recognized for being one of the highest-performing animal care agencies in the nation. Read the full story below or click to view the stories aired on King 5 News. 

*These funds will be used to create more spacious living quarters for cats and better address the needs of dogs that have behavioral issues. 

Meowtropolitan cat cafe celebrates RASKC volunteers


For the second consecutive year, RASKC will be holding a volunteer appreciation event at Meowtropolitan, the cat café in Seattle on Monday, August 8. Volunteers who register for this event will be able to visit with our cats at no charge during a 50-minute session. Normally Meowtropolitan charges $10.  Volunteers may sign up for the 12pm timeslot here or the 1pm timeslot here. The 11am timeslot is filled, though you can sign up here for the waitlist in case someone cancels. Because of limited space, only 20 people per session may attend. Only people who are registered in advance will be admitted. The age minimum is eight years old. Meowtropolitan’s cat lounge is closed to the public on Mondays, so it will be "just us" in the lounge on this day. (Their coffee lounge will be open to the public). Read several articles about Meowtropolian on RASKC’s blog.

RASKC ranks high in national volunteer program survey


A few months ago, RASKC participated in an online volunteer program assessment conducted by the University of South Florida (USF). The USF team, which is part of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has been administering these assessments to almost 400 different organizations since 2009. Their mission is to promote organizational effectiveness to nonprofit leaders by validating volunteer perception and attitudes. 

Approximately 87% or more volunteers who responded gave favorable ratings to seven key areas of the volunteer program- feeling satisfied with the volunteer work; feeling competent in the volunteer work; feeling like the work is important; feeling clear on the expectations for volunteer work; and liking RASKC and especially the three staff volunteer coordinators (Nickie Ford, Sarah Luthens, and Lori Mason). Within each of these highly rated areas, however, RASKC is determined to improve.

The areas where RASKC will focus most on improving is communication. This includes seeking, listening to, and effectively responding to volunteer input and concerns; encouraging more positive engagement with staff; and encouraging more positive engagement with other volunteers.

Thanks very much to each of you who took the time to complete the survey. If you’d like more information about the survey results, contact RASKC.Volunteers@kingcounty.gov

RASKC Volunteer program gets a makeover

RASKC volunteer webpage

Have you checked out our RASKC Volunteer page lately? 

We have streamlined our volunteer pages to create a "one-stop shop" feel. The page provides a easy 1-2-3 step into becoming a volunteer, in addition to provide a quick overview on the various job descriptions and an up front overview of the policies and expectations. The page also provides a slider with various 'in action' photos showcasing our volunteers from different teams. 

A Hub Resource Center for volunteers can also be found here. "How to" videos for volunteers are being created in order to help with "on-the-job training". 

RASKC Voluntee name badge

In addition to the above change, RASKC is giving the volunteer name badges a makeover by branding and adding team colored labels. This will make it easier for staff and customers to identify for convenience, safety, and assistance. 

Below are the color-coded name tags for the various work teams:

  • Cat Team (M&G, EMCC): Orange
  • Shelter Helpers: Grey
  • Partner Volunteers: Blue-Grey
  • Dog Team: volunteers in this area will be assessed and color matched with the dog's identified color personality based on skills and experience (Easy-going green, Bashful Blue and Rambunctious Red)

RASKC adoptions are on the rise!


Earlier this year, RASKC implemented a new adoption program called “Adopters Welcome.” This HSUS program is based on the idea of breaking down barriers to adoption in an effort to save more animals.

So, how has this new program affected our adoption rate? RASKC adoptions have risen 20% from January 1 through June 28 this year, compared to the same period last year (852 adoptions in 2016 compared to 1027 in 2017). Dog adoptions have especially increased with 404 this year, compared to 241 during the same time last year.

Pet returns have increased a bit, which we had anticipated with the launch of this new program. Our cat returns last year were 9.5% to 10% this year. Our dog returns went from 9.1% to 13.6%. We are currently looking at new ways to improve our return rate, including possible changes to our follow-up program and more resources for new adopters.

Thanks so much to all the volunteers who have embraced this new program to help us save more lives! 

Recognizing RASKC’s July Volunteers of the Month

RASKC volunteer of the month - july 2017

Meet Marilyn and Jazz! Marilyn Wallace and her granddaughter Jazz Richard have contributed immensely to RASKC’s Early Morning Cat Crew and our Tukwila Petco Cat-Care Team. In only 1.5 years, Marilyn has worked about 400 shifts – truly astonishing- with Jazz often by her side. Jazz, who is homeschooled, will be going into 10th grade this fall. She will be taking an online class in veterinary medicine then. Marilyn serves on RASKC’s leadership team at Tukwila Petco. She often transports hundreds of pounds of Petco-donated goods to RASKC. Jazz often takes on the thankless task of washing the cat-related Petco laundry at home, then bringing it back to the store.  RASKC volunteering is an entire family production including not only Marilyn and Jazz, but also Candi who is Jazz’s mother and Marilyn’s daughter. The threesome not only work shifts at Tukwila Petco and at RASKC/ Kent for Early Morning Cat Crew, they also work special adoption events and help staff pet-licensing booths at community festivals. Plus they’re a foster family too. Thank you, Marilyn, Jazz, and Candi!

Employee Spotlight: Sarah Luthens, Volunteer Program Manager

sarah luthens

Sarah Luthens celebrates her seven year anniversary this month as RASKC’s Volunteer Program Manager.

Tell us about yourself. I was born over 55 years ago in Iowa and was raised there. All sets of my great grandparents immigrated to the United States, so I’m of Lithuanian, German, and French Canadian heritage. Spouse Heather, our young daughter, and I care for our 30-pound dog, a fish, two cats (one from RASKC), three chickens, and two rabbits. I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia. I also graduated from the University of Washington School of Law.  

Why did you decide to work for animals? My passion has always been to work for a better world, especially with and on behalf of those who are vulnerable.

What did you do prior to coming to RASKC? For most of my adult life I worked as a union organizer/ contract negotiator, political organizer, and community organizer.

What is the best part about your job? Working with terrific volunteers and staff!

What do you do when you’re not at work? I spend time mostly with my family, including taking several trips each year to visit our daughter’s birth family.  My daughter says my most frequent quote at home is, “I’m taking the dog for a walk.”  I also like to read and play poker. While I no longer have time to be an activist, I try to do what I can to support a number of leftist, feminist, racial justice, and environmental organizations.

Share a story about an experience with a great volunteer(s)? It’s too difficult to choose among the many experiences with great volunteers, so I’ll take a moment instead to honor the memories of several wonderful RASKC volunteers who have died during the past seven years: Emily Cator (2017), Betsy White (2017), Kaylie Bergen (2013), Rahne Sinclair-Morals (2012), Karl Stahl (2012), and Nancy. May their spirits live on!

Pet of the Week: Loki


Loki is a 12yr old male cat, (ID #A525186). He was brought in by his previous owner in April, because they were moving. Loki had lived in a family with kids. Loki has a “red” personality- spirited and fun-loving. He might be a bit sensitive to some types of handling, so Loki would do best in a home with a cat-savvy family who knows when to give him some space. Loki prefers the “hands off” approach, but then will surprise you by jumping into your lap to seek your attention. Loki wants the interaction on his terms. Loki is very food motivated and loves snacks and toys. He is litter-box trained, neutered, current on vaccinations and microchipped. He will likely need a special diet, some medicines, attention to skin care, and regular visits with a veterinarian. His adoption fee is $30 and includes a free visit to the veterinarian of your choice and 30 days of pet insurance through Trupanion.

Volunteer and Community Event Update

  • Xerox: Two local employees honored RASKC last month with a donation of $2,500 and dozens of cat cozy blankets that they made themselves. Marian Ugh and Stephanie Potter have organized annual $2,500 donations through their employer’s Community Involvement Fund to RASKC for several consecutive years, supplemented by various in-kind donations. Thank you, Xerox!
  • Seattle International Beerfest Success: Over 40 RASKC volunteers raised more than $2,000 by pouring beverages at the Seattle Beerfest earlier this month. Thanks to all who participated, especially RASKC volunteer and organizer extraordinaire Melissa Blake!
  • FUTY Festival Registration: Mud Bay is sponsoring a fun party to honor animal-welfare volunteers and staff in Puget Sound on Sunday, August 20, from 4-7pm at Magnuson Park (Seattle). Lots of delicious food and beverages will be served (free). Also lots of premium giveaways and product samples from various pet-oriented manufacturer will be distributed at no charge. Register here with this promo code S595864FUTY.
  • Calendar of Events: RASKC volunteers, staff, and partner organizations are participating in many community events this month and next month. Check out RASKC’s calendar of events here.

Current Volunteer Openings

Cat Meet & Greet @ RASKC (Kent)
Contact Coordinator Sarah S: raskc.coordinator@gmail.com

Weekly Shifts

  • Wednesdays 2-4pm (short term)

Alternating Week Shifts

  • Thursdays, 2pm- 4pm (short term)
  • Fridays 2pm- 4pm (short term)
  • Sundays 2pm- 4pm (short term)

Cat Care Team @ Partner Sites

Kirkland  Contact Kirkland.RASKC@gmail.com

  • Saturdays 1pm -3pm (alternating weeks)
  • Saturdays 3pm-5pm (alternating weeks)
  • Sundays 9am-11am (alternating weeks)
  • Mondays, 3pm-5pm (alternating weeks)

Reber Ranch Contact melodyej63@msn.com

  • Mondays 9am-11am (weekly) (short term)
  • Fill-in only including Tuesday mornings in September

 Tukwila Contact RASKC.Volunteers@kingcounty.gov

  • Sundays 4pm- 5pm (alternating weeks)
  • Mondays 6pm- 7pm (weekly)
  • Thursdays 9am- 10am (alternating weeks)

Dog Walkers (Kent)
Contact Coordinator Lenda J: raskcdogteam@gmail.com

Seeking volunteers who have great written communication skills and are interested in volunteering from home. If you are interested in any of the below positions, please email us at RASKC.Volunteers@kingcounty.gov

  • Exit Interviewer
  • Onboarding Specialist
  • Tukwila Petco Cat-Care Team Scheduler

Quick Reminders

RASKC reminder

As much advance notice as possible for absences: If you will be taking a vacation this summer or fall, please mark your absences from scheduled shifts with as much advance notice as possible. It’s often very stressful to arrange for fill-in coverage with short notice of absences.

Minimal use of cell phones while volunteering: While you are caring for our animals or customers or doing other important work, please avoid using your cell phone for more than a minute or so.

Place rags in the feedroom: Recently the Early Morning Cat Crew needed more rags, but there were none in usual place. Volunteer Penny discovered many rags placed in the storage area near the Dog Team room. Please remember to place clean rags in the bin in the feedroom.

When it’s hot, do not exert our dogs: In hot weather, we do short and slow walks only with the dogs. There’s no ball playing and no running when it’s hot.

Contact the Volunteer Program


Thanks for all that you do to help the animals, other volunteers, customers, and the RASKC staff!

For any questions or comments please contact us at RASKC.Volunteers@kingcounty.gov