Volunteering is Self-Care: Q&A with Laura Horon


volunteer laura horon cuddling with cat

Helping Animals and Your Soul

Love cats, dogs, rabbits or all of the above? Or maybe you have a specialized skill that might come in handy at OHS? That’s what Laura Horon did. Her volunteer journey began with her love of animals and turned into using her professional experience to help OHS. She is a great example of making time during the week to do what feeds your soul, no matter how busy life can get. This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week and we spoke with Laura Horon, a volunteer who helps with graphic design and video editing, to talk about how volunteering at OHS is her self-care.

Volunteer laura horon with dogWhen did you start volunteering at OHS and what has your volunteer journey been like?

Laura Horon: I started volunteering in January 2016. I’ve always been very passionate about the welfare of animals. I got way more energy and quality time from volunteering at OHS then I have put into it, so I’m very glad I decided to get involved. I started out as a dog walker and I also started fostering. We ended up fostering a lot of kittens and some puppies. Once the pandemic hit, I was really glad that I could continue to foster, but I also got to be more involved in digital opportunities. I’m a graphic designer by trade, but I never really thought that I’d be able to put those skills to work at OHS. I always put down on surveys that I’m available if to help out with tech, so it’s really fun to be able to help out with graphic design when there’s a need.

Do you have a shelter pet? Who are they and why are they your favorite?

Laura Horon: All of our foster animals were the ones that got away. I was a kennel buddy and there was this dog that I was just taken with. I would sit with her and she was this big fluffy dog, at the time I had just lost my Great Dane. We were thinking of adopting her. There are dogs that you think ‘that is way too much work. Someone would never take a chance on this dog.’ But there ended up being a line out the door at 5 a.m. of people who wanted to adopt her. There was something about sitting with her and her being absolutely terrified of people and then her coming and sitting on my lap. I would just spend hours with her. I think about her all the time.

Do you consider yourself a cat lover, dog lover, rabbit lover or all of the above? Tell us more.

Laura Horon: I am a dog and cat lover. I definitely feel like dogs are a little bit more of the key to my heart, but we have fostered so many cats. Volunteer Laura Horon with puppy

Why is animal welfare important to you?

Laura Horon: Being compassionate towards creatures that don’t have a voice is really meaningful to me. I feel that way about all marginalized people and animals, so it was kind of a natural extension to give something to creatures that needed me.

For anyone interested in volunteering at OHS, what advice do you have for them?

Laura Horon: I would say that just showing up consistently is the hardest part. That was advice that I got from my mentor. He said just keep going and keep coming. Him just giving that simple advice, just show up to the shelter until you get to the habit of it, made such an impact on me. I was working full time while I volunteered in the shelter. I was working all the time, but the fact that OHS was so fulfilling to me made the difference. The more time I was spending at OHS, the more I was able to make a work-life balance. I was able to just go and reenergize. I’m an introvert, so OHS was helpful to me because I kept seeing the same people dog walking week after week and I got friendly with them in the least intimidating way possible because there’s always a dog to talk about it or a cat.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as an OHS volunteer?

Laura Horon: It is such a huge shelter that there are so many things going on at all times. If you have a specialized skill that you think would come in handy, all you have to do is ask.

Learn more about volunteering at OHS.