SPCA New Zealand

SPCA Purina Volunteer of the Year Awards

​Each year, we celebrate the efforts of thousands of Kiwis who volunteer their time, talent and energy to the SPCA with our SPCA Purina Volunteer of the Year Awards. The awards are our opportunity to honour those who go the extra mile to better the lives of animals, and without whom SPCA simply could not function.

SPCA Purina Volunteer of the Year Awards

2021 Volunteer of the Year Awards

Each year, SPCA pays tribute to the thousands of volunteers who donate their time and energy to help make a difference to the lives of New Zealand’s most vulnerable animals.

The awards recognise the incredible contribution SPCA volunteers make, from the selfless kiwis who foster animals and help out at Centres, to those who give their time each week to raise crucial funds through SPCA’s Op Shops.

With more than 10 volunteers to every one staff member, SPCA Chief Executive Andrea Midgen says the reality is that without volunteers, the charity simply wouldn’t be able to function.

“Our volunteers really are the heart of SPCA and if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to help the number of animals that we do each year,” says Ms Midgen.

SPCA volunteers contribute to the charity in a range of ways, some examples of which include working in the charity’s Op Shops, collecting donations, socialising the animals, cleaning enclosures, fostering animals and helping out with cleaning and laundry at SPCA’s Centres.

“Our volunteers really do keep our Organisation running and we are so grateful to each one of them," says Ms Midgen. “We are also thankful to our loyal partner Purina, who has sponsored these awards since 2016 and ensure all of the cats and dogs in SPCA’s care nationwide are well fed with Purina ONE. We couldn’t do what we do without their help.”

SPCA staff and volunteers around the country nominated 143 of their most exceptional volunteers, which were then judged by a panel of Purina and SPCA staff.

“We’re so proud to be sponsoring these awards for a sixth year which recognise the wonderful SPCA volunteers who donate their time to help better the lives of animals,” says Purina General Manager Jennifer Chappell. “We are thrilled to partner with SPCA once again to celebrate these selfless Kiwis and their incredible service to the animal industry.”

Six award categories put a spotlight on the different ways volunteers contribute to SPCA, and SPCA and Purina are announcing the winners to mark the start of National Volunteer Week. The winners receive a year’s supply of Purina ONE pet food for their pet, as well as a Nespresso Breville “Essenza Mini” Espresso Machine, worth a total value of $600.

Six award categories put a spotlight on the different ways volunteers contribute to the SPCA. The 2020 winners are:

Best Op Shop Team

Motueka Op Shop

SPCA’s Motueka Op Shop team not only volunteer their time and energy to raise funds for the charity, but they’ve shown unrelenting commitment to the store. On Boxing Day last year, a hail storm ripped through the region causing major damage to the store, prompting its ceiling to collapse. In the days that followed, the team of enthusiastic volunteers gave up their time to move everything out of the shop and help dry out the interior. One volunteer even brought her truck to take all the wet and damaged stock away. Three weeks later the team was back with buckets and mops to give the shop a complete clean and restore it to its former glory, so it could reopen. Over Easter, the team also put their creative hats on and built some chic new changing rooms to help create more shop space.

Fantastic Foster Family

Graham Markwell, New Plymouth

Graham has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of hundreds of animals by fostering through SPCA’s New Plymouth Centre. Research shows that animal welfare outcomes are better when animals are in foster care rather than a shelter, and Graham has selflessly opened his home to hundreds of animals. During last year’s lockdown he had 16 in his care, including two dogs and four cats he’s adopted through the charity. Graham first put his hand up to volunteer for SPCA after suffering a stroke 12 years ago, that subsequently meant his business had to close. Since then, he’s had a profound impact on SPCA’s New Plymouth Centre, where he volunteers each week. As well as fostering, Graham mows the Centre’s lawns and collects from donation bins every fortnight. His contribution has been invaluable.

Outstanding Young Volunteer

Katie Storey, Masterton

Katie has been volunteering at SPCA’s Masterton Centre for two years, and in that time has become a valued member of the SPCA family. Through her hard work and commitment, Katie has fallen into place at the Centre so well, she’s now trusted to support and train fellow volunteers. But it’s her work with vulnerable cats and kittens that continues to amaze the Centre’s staff. Katie always shows great care and patience, particularly when dealing with shy cats which can be harder to handle. Katie fosters countless litters through the busy kitten season, from those that require bottle feeding around the clock, to kittens that are very sick and need constant monitoring. When Katie returns the kittens she fosters to the Centre, they’re always well socialised, friendly, healthy and ready to find their new homes. While volunteering for SPCA, Katie has managed to complete her Certificate in Animal Care and has continued on to vet nursing.

Going the Extra Mile

Fiona Holliday, Taupō

Fiona has received the award for Going The Extra Mile due to her enthusiasm and can-do attitude. No matter the task, Fiona always volunteers her time and will drop everything to help. She’s a Jack of all trades at SPCA’s Taupō Centre, where she volunteers three days each week. As well as taking the dogs out for socialisation, Fiona fosters high risk cats and kittens who need extra care and monitoring around the clock. She and her husband have also volunteered their handy skills to fix the Centre’s rabbit cages, and Fiona always puts her hand up to help out at SPCA’s community fundraising events. No job is too big or too small for Fiona – she even offers to take home the Centre’s washing to dry it during winter.

Most Devoted Volunteer

Jackie Mitcalfe, Thames

Jackie has been volunteering her time for SPCA’s Thames Centre for the last 20 years, and over those two decades has had a remarkable impact on the Centre and its staff. Jackie is dependable and always the first person to stick her hand up to help, no matter the task. She volunteers her time for three afternoons each week, plus one morning cleaning shift at the Centre, as well as filling any gaps in the volunteer roster. On top of that, she goes above and beyond to fundraise for SPCA by coordinating Cupcake Days, organising and selling raffles and even conning her friends to jump out of planes for SPCA’s Jump to the Rescue fundraiser. Jackie has shown incredible support to SPCA’s Thames staff and is a shining example of a valuable member of her community.

Best Centre Volunteer Team

Liz MacPherson, Rod Willis & Lisa White, Māngere

Liz, Rod and Lisa are an incredible team who work so well together but also as individuals. They’ve become important members of the SPCA family and always bring a positive attitude to the Māngere Centre. Everything they do is completed to the highest standard, whether it’s cleaning enclosures or fostering kittens. They also show the animals so much love by always arriving early for their volunteer shift to squeeze in a few extra cat cuddles!

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