Editor’s note: According to Volunteer Canada, International Volunteer Day takes place every year on Dec. 5 to shine a light on the impact of volunteer efforts everywhere. The Chronicle is proud to tell the story of community volunteers.The Humane Society of Durham Region (HSDR) is an animal shelter in Whitby that runs by the generosity of volunteers.
Christine Murphy, HSDR volunteer coordinator, recruits and trains those volunteers.
“We have about 80 volunteers for cats, dogs, we have drivers, we have housekeeping, we have some event people, we have people doing the food banks [for animals],” says Murphy.
The HSDR is an affiliate of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They take in animals who have been surrendered, abused, and neglected. The HSDR nurses the animals they take in back to good health.
“Our end goal is to find them a loving home,” Murphy says.
Murphy started volunteering for the HSDR in 2014. She visited HSDR’s open house and put in an application. A phone interview soon followed, and Murphy was selected. She began with dog-walking and helping with pet adoptions.
She says, “[my role] kind of blossomed since I first started. I still spend time with the animals, I foster animals, I have three kittens here right now plus a dog that I’m fostering.”
Currently, Murphy manages the recruiting and training of volunteers. She also does humane education talks at schools and helps run events.
“I pretty much do something for the shelter everyday,” says Murphy.
Murphy, who is from Ottawa, also volunteered with the Ottawa Humane Society many years ago. Before committing to the HSDR full-time Murphy had a successful career in Human Resources.
“I worked for a major chartered bank, my background is human resources, and I was a senior human resource professional with the bank,” says Murphy. She worked with corporations to help them execute their business plans and strategies.
As Murphy got closer to retirement, she felt it was important to give back to the community.
“I wanted to get involved with something, so I thought why not something with animals? Humane society had a great reputation, so I decided to apply there,” says Murphy. “It’s really about giving back and I was very excited.”
Murphy has a small and close-knit family. Her parents moved from Ottawa and live close to her in the Durham Region. She has a sister who lives is Orillia and they see each other a few times a year. She considers her pets and the animals she fosters as part of her family.
“If you add all the animals we have in the family, we’d probably double in size. It’s a small family but we are a fairly close family,” Murphy says.
Murphy’s role at the HSDR is an essential one.
Cindy Bennett, volunteer board secretary, says Murphy is an extraordinary person.
“She has a background in HR so she assists us with HR policies and procedures. She has done dog-walking. She is currently fostering a dog, she has done a lot of fostering for us,” says Bennett. “People like Christine, they are the life’s blood to this place, they just help keep us going. She is an exceptional person.”
Murphy hopes her volunteer work continues to inspire others to do the same. Over the years, her work has influenced many around her.
“I can speak for my close circle of friends. They are always very interested in what I am doing and what animals I have. I often get referrals from my friends and my circle, from people that are looking to do volunteer work,” says Murphy.
Murphy has a lot of amazing memories from volunteering at the HSDR. The one that sticks out the most is about a Husky mix she used to walk and play with.
“She really took my heart. She did get adopted to a wonderful horse farm and she is doing amazing. That was a very fun story,” says Murphy.
She aims to continue volunteering with the HSDR to amass more fond memories.