Greetings animal lovers, 

My name is Lorena Banda. I am currently a senior at the University of Houston-Downtown with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish/English Professional Translation. I spend most of my free time with my family and my three-year-old cat, Buddy.

I first found out about Friends For Life Animal Shelter because one of my friends mentioned that there was a “cat room” in Houston. I had never heard of such a thing and I love cats; therefore, I immediately went to check it out. I only went as a visitor the first couple of times. A couple of weeks after I found out about the UHD Animal Rescue Club.

After adding UHD Animal Rescue Club’s Facebook page, I saw that Friends For Life was one of the shelters where I could help out as a volunteer. Soon I became a cat volunteer for the shelter, where I attended orientation/feline training beforehand. On my first day as a volunteer, I was able to shadow a senior volunteer to learn how to use certain supplies, how to clean the litter boxes, and where to find instructions for feeding. Until today, I still learn a lot from other volunteers and staff when I do not know how to do a particular task. Tasks vary depending on the shifts which include morning (Down n’ Dirty), noon (Maintenance Mode), and evening (End of Day). So far, I have only volunteered for morning shifts, which include feeding the cats, cleaning and mopping the rooms and hallway, as well as washing and refilling water bowls, as well as noon shifts, which include maintaining water bowls and answering visitors’ questions if the shelter is open to the public.

My favorite experiences at the shelter took place during a couple of maintenance shifts. I was able to help the photographer with new pictures of the new kittens in the lobby. In addition to photos, I was also able to see how the staff help cats learn to do tricks like spinning in a circle, walking down stairs, and responding to “sit.” During these experiences I learned that presenting photos and videos to prospective fosters or adopters is important when it comes to finding a new home for the cats and kittens.

Overall, my experience as a volunteer has been very fun and educational because I have even learned small tips and tricks to apply at home with my own cat. Animals cannot defend themselves and I am glad I am able to contribute in some way to help them stay in a safe and clean environment while they wait for a loving home.

Below I have included a photo of the front and back of the Friends For Life volunteer shirt.