Emily has volunteered with Furry Friends since July of 2022. She had wanted to volunteer for a cat rescue ever since adopting her kitty from a cat rescue in Portland. When she and her husband moved to the Vancouver area, she was determined to find somewhere to both volunteer and photograph kitties to help get them adopted.
She started searching for a cat rescue, and that’s how she found us. She quickly signed up and attended orientation for a shift position where she met Jenn who asked what she did for a living (she’s a photographer and photo re-toucher). When Emily said that she wanted to photograph the cats, Jenn, who was extremely enthusiastic about the idea, connected her with Diane and she’s been photographing the kitties ever since!
Each week she visits our Halfway House to photograph the new cat arrivals, trying to capture adorable photos of them that highlight their features and personalities. Her biggest challenge is not adopting all of the kitties herself! They are all so cute, and she loves each and every one. Her “only child” cat keeps her in check, though – he’s quite jealous when she comes home smelling like other kitties.
That cat is a very sweet and social tuxedo Russian Blue named Finley. Acting more like a dog than a cat, he greets her at the door every time she comes home, and as her unofficial emotional support cat, he goes on road trips with them, although he’s not a fan of the car.
Volunteering about three hours a week, Emily spends half of that time photographing, depending on how many new kitties there are and how active they are, and spends the other half editing the photos. She admits that her favorite part about volunteering is that she absolutely loves our Furry Friends “community.” All of the volunteers truly care about the work we do, do their best to give the kitties their best lives while they’re with us, and are genuinely kind, friendly and helpful. She enjoys seeing the volunteers as much as she enjoys seeing the cats!
In the past, she volunteered for such organizations as With Love Oregon, Habitat for Humanity and Cocoon House. And besides working fulltime as a commercial photo re-toucher, she also does fine art and pet photography on the side. As for why she gives back? She lost her childhood kitty, Oreo, after a long battle with congestive heart failure. Her best friend and first cat “model,” he was supremely photogenic, and she truly believes that he would pose/switch angles for her. After he passed, she adopted her second kitty, and since then she knew that she wanted, through her photography, to give other kitties the best second chance she could at finding their forever homes.
Her proudest moment as a volunteer is seeing cats entering the shelter nervous, shy and frightened, break out of their shell. She finds it not only heartwarming but the best time to take their photos, highlighting their true personalities. She likes to believe that someone will see one of her photos and think, “That’s my new family member.”
Passionate about animal and human rights, criminal justice reform, sustainability and nature therapy, Emily supports many nonprofits financially, including The Innocence Project, Season of Justice and One Tree Planted. She loves music (mainly rock and metal), reading, being creative, and being outside (she loves the PNW rain). Her favorite color is black and her favorite season is fall.
Furry Friends Volunteer Spotlights are compiled and written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA.