Volunteer Spotlight: Pat Van Buren

This month’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Pat Van Buren! Pat is a long-time Dog Program Volunteer and a member of the Renovation Committee for DAWS. Her family, Kevin Hickey, Emily, Erin, Kathleen, and Pat herself, adore animals. They learned about DAWS when they adopted their first DAWS cat, Sweety, in 2001. Then, they started volunteering in 2007 when they successfully fostered three kittens. They moved on to their second set of three kittens and became foster failures, adopting two of the three kittens into their one-dog home! Pat’s family continues to support us as they truly believe in our mission and work.

When her daughters were in college, Pat wanted to volunteer more. So, she signed up to walk dogs in the shelter; Kevin walked them two days a week, and she did one day a week. They committed for three months, and that was seven years ago! They have learned through continual training how to work with all types of dogs. Pat has watched dogs arrive from transport frightened, and within days of working with our caring team, they open up and begin to trust again. That change warms Pat’s heart every time.

As DAWS largely depends on volunteers, Pat and her family members have taken on exciting roles over time; including Adoption Counselor, Adoption and Community Events, Foster, Renovation Committee, Board Member, etc. Pat enjoys being part of a team committed to helping animals and states, “It’s pretty special to be able to work with people who have similar passions.” She continues, “DAWS has provided many opportunities to use our skills to help animals as they make their way to their forever homes.”

In 2011, she adopted two-year-old Oliver, a Border Collie – English Setter mix; in 2020, she adopted two-year-old Josie, a Border Collie-Beagle mix who was nursed back to health by volunteer Barbara Muller. Her animals are family, and she enjoys working to provide a stimulating life for them.

While Pat seems to have endless memories of working with us through the years, her warmest memory was fostering a dog, Willow, in 2019. Willow needed emergency surgery after swallowing a rock in transport and went from a quiet, sick dog to a perky, sweet, and confident dog ready for adoption!

As a long-standing member of the renovation team and the Purchasing Lead, Pat has helped us define needs and optimize our expenditure. Pat and fellow team member John Piper successfully negotiated the new kennel system purchase, which is the largest non-construction purchase in the project. We are grateful that Pat lends her considerable expertise to the committee and helps us achieve excellent outcomes!” explains Cheryl A. Rykowski, Director Emerita and Renovation Chair.

Pat is forever thankful for the DAWS community and their daily work, and we are forever grateful for her!