The Shelby Humane Society has cared for thousands of animals since their opening in 1977 and they don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. They recently added a new member to their team to serve as the Volunteer Coordinator.
Alexis Martinez is a communication studies major with a minor in Nonprofit Studies and she will graduate this spring.
As Volunteer Coordinator, she is responsible for “recruiting volunteers for both on-site and off-site assignments for the shelter, manag[ing] volunteers for community service hours, coordinat[ing] with staff on volunteer assignments, and train[ing] new volunteers.”
Martinez said she was already working at the shelter as an intake specialist and was offered the position after interviewing Shelby Humane Society’s Public Relations Coordinator for a class assignment.
In reference to wanting the role, she said, “it was an opportunity to become an administrator at a nonprofit that I love and step into my career upon graduation.”
When asked what she wished the public knew about the shelter, Martinez replied, “I wish others knew that SHS has many more programs and services to offer besides just coming to adopt pets, such as the fostering, low-cost vaccine clinics and pet retention.”
Not only does Shelby Humane Society offer adoption, fostering, vaccine clinics, and pet retention, as Martinez shared, but they also have a program called SafePet, dedicated to caring for the pets of domestic abuse survivors as they focus on getting the support they need. The program was launched in 2018 and is one of the only of its kind in the state.
In addition to supporting the community through outreach programs, the organization increased their adoption rates by providing basic obedience training to eligible pets in their care. The training is provided by volunteers trained on-site by certified trainers and is called WoofPack. Martinez encourages the community to volunteer at the shelter or foster cats and dogs to “get them one step closer to their forever home!”
While adjusting to her new position, Martinez said she has learned “just how great of a village it takes to operate a nonprofit and that proper, ethical communication is so important to maintaining operations.”
Her communication skills have been honed by the communication studies program at UM, and she credits her professors for contributing to her growth. The past two virtual school semesters have helped prepare her for more technical aspects of the job – conducting volunteer tours and orientation online to reduce the number of people in the shelter as part of COVID-19 protocol.
Although normal fundraising events have been rescheduled or canceled due to COVID-19, adoption events are still taking place off-site, and cats are available for adoption at PetSmart in Alabaster.
Martinez says her favorite part of her new position is “helping people fulfill their passions for animal welfare and service while also enriching and saving the lives of so many cats and dogs.”
However, she ultimately dreams of running her own nonprofit one day. She wants to focus on underdeveloped, low-income areas, and is “soaking in the experience working in a nonprofit and really working for the service of others, human or not.”