Last week marked my 2nd anniversary since my first official volunteer drive with the Toronto Wildlife Centre. My how time flies!
It was a slower year compared to the first. There were some long lulls and I was having withdrawls from driving wildlife to and from the centre. Not that I wish for more injured wildlife but some of you get what I'm saying.
By no means did TWC have a slower year than others, it's just that not always was there the need for a person to jump into their vehicle and do the drive(s). Often the finders gladly bring the animals in themselves. We, the volunteers, are there when they cannot.
I signed on as a volunteer grocery getter early in 2016 to keep myself active with the centre. Every Monday and Friday a person does a grocery shop, to keep things in stock, and ensuring they never run out.
I don't like grocery shopping to begin with and this has caused me great stress at times when I am not sure about items like produce as an example. What's good? What's not? Where the hell do I find dandelion leaves? Or how about whole smelts? It's been a learning experience and I've had some help from others in finding some of these things I've never had to purchase before.
To help TWC, we must try to find the best deals on items. This also means it's better to be hitting stores like No Frills and Walmart for saving any money we can for them. They are a charity run organization.
August was a nightmare in my head for me. There were over 500 animals in care so the grocery list was massive. I remember receiving the email with the list the day before and I was going out of my mind looking at the long list. I cursed and grumbled, not because I did not want to do it, I just didn't know how I was going to do it on my own. Well some $300 later, my SUV jammed full of everything that was on the list, which had me hit 4 stores and filling 3 shopping carts... I did it.
I sweated and stressed as I tried to make this grocery shop a total success. My first stop was Walmart shortly after 7am to get a jump on things. Note, I work the PM shift and usually am not in bed until 1am. I'm not giving myself a hero badge or anything, it's just what I did to try and fill the order sooner than later. I wanted to be sure I had plenty of time to get everything and hit other places if I had to. I knew if I couldn't fill the order, it would not be the end of the world, but that's not how I like to do things.
The best was when I walked in with the last box or bag of goods. Total release of tension. Ahhhhh!
It's great the odd time Angie can give me a hand doing this. The other months she is used to getting a phone call or two from me while I'm in the process. I forget things in the moment of stress, stupid stuff like "are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing?"
It is wonderful there are a handful of people willing to help do the grocery runs every month. A list of the days comes out a week before the start of the month and volunteers get back to them with the day(s) they can help. Some months the dates fill up fast, other months it's a struggle to get them filled.
Maybe someone reading this might consider looking into joining the volunteer grocery drive? You do get reimbursed for all purchases; just be sure to keep all your receipts.
It's been an adventure the last couple years. I've met so many wonderful people. I've made a few friends but unfortunately I believe I have made a foe or two. I won't get into that any further, this is a happy blog.
In the 2 years, I have done approximately 80 drives. I've released about 150 birds of a wide variety of species. I have brought in about 40 wild creatures in total, and not just birds. For the most part my drives are just around the west end of Toronto but sometimes go a little further like young Cedar Waxwings to the Hamilton area, Bats from the Milton area, a little Nuthatch from Whitby, a Red-tailed Hawk in Richmond Hill. If I'm available, time allows and no one else is on it, I most likely will be "putting up my hand". I don't care if it's a House Sparrow or a Pigeon, Hawk or Owl, Squirrel or Fox. I signed up to help wildlife... all wildlife.
Dealing with the GP and representing TWC can be a challenge. I once had a very difficult time speaking with a woman who had an injured Pigeon. She feeds the birds. She feeds feral cats. A feral cat got a hold of this Pigeon. Can you see where my thoughts were on this? I once held back my laughter when I called a gentleman about yet another Pigeon I was going to pick up from his place. I had called him when I was near his home and his reply to me was that I would have to wait a bit while he emptied his bowels. Alrighty then!
Usually it is what it is, just picking up and going, but sometimes things aren't what they are supposed to be. It's always a mystery thanks to the odd moments I've encountered.
One day I hope I can do more for Toronto Wildlife but for the time being, due to shift work, this is what I am able to do and I am good with that.
It will be interesting to see what year 3 is like. Stay tuned...
Here I am after releasing a couple American Gold Finches in my friend John's backyard. We were looking for a flock to send them out with, giving them their best chance at a second chance. John was hosting a dozen or so birds for many weeks and he was happy to have a couple more added to his visiting flock. What's two more mouths to feed when it comes to little birds? Normally I am alone with releases, so this was a rare opp to have others present, and it was cool that a photo was taken.