Mr. Bingles is friendly, inquisitive and extremely active, but he has never had a friend throughout his life. The Humane Society of Durham Region wants to change that.
Mr. Bingles is a cat, and Cindy Bennett, the Board Secretary at HSDR believes that all cats need friends.
Bennett has been volunteering at the HSDR for more than 18 years. She is the volunteer Board Secretary at the shelter.
“Our focus is rescuing the abandoned, the abused and the unwanted animals,” Bennett says. “I’m very proud of the time I put in being a volunteer. I do dog-walking, I do humane education talks in schools, I do fundraising and I do a lot of vet runs.”
Bennett, who also helps recruit other volunteers and manages banking for HSDR, had a successful career in banking for 23 years and has a pleasant story about how she joined the HSDR.
Bennett went to her high school reunion and talked to multiple people who were very happy in their lives and many more who didn’t love what they were doing. The reunion was on a Saturday.
“On Monday, I quit my job and thought I need to volunteer for doing something I’m passionate about. That is when I started with the Humane Society,” says Bennett. “I started volunteering [by] walking dogs at the shelter down in south Oshawa.”
Before committing to the shelter, Bennett was wavering between working for a senior’s home and the Humane Society. “I do adore the seniors as well,” she says.
Bennett says she spends about 40 hours a week volunteering at the HSDR and that “it’s a happy place to be.”
The HSDR helped 922 animals find their forever home and helped foster 518 last year. Bennett has personally taken care of many. “I have fostered about 200 animals now,” says Bennett.
Bennett’s hard work and commitment has influenced and inspired others as well. Bennett’s neighbour, who practices reiki, helps by using her energy on scared animals Bennett fosters.
“I see a lot of HSDR T-shirts and sweatshirts walking around my own neighbourhood.”
Christine Murphy is the Volunteer Program Coordinator and a colleague of Bennett. Murphy says Bennett has been a volunteer at the shelter for 18 years which is astounding and blows her mind.
“She is so engaged, like she basically has dedicated her time to the shelter, to helping the shelter. As far as influencing me, I mean she is very welcoming to all the new volunteers,” says Murphy. “She gives her time to do whatever the shelter needs. [she’s] a very special person.”
People do not like shelters because they are full of sad stories, says Bennett. “A lot of people ask me, ‘oh how do you do that, how do you go in day after day’ and I have to remind them that these are the lucky ones, the animals that come into our shelter are the lucky ones.”
For Bennett, volunteering for the HSDR does not seem like work. “I get incredible satisfaction to bring an animal back to good health and adoptable status,” says Bennett. That explains why she has been doing it for more than 18 years now.
Bennett says old animals are least likely to find a forever home and her favourite memory is when a 20-year old cat, Buster, whom she fostered for weeks on end got adopted. “Oh my god, the joy, it was like fireworks, those kinds of stories really stand out to me,” she says.
Bennett hopes to continue working for helpless animals. She feels that it is her responsibility to care for them. Even though it is a tough job, she says, “Do it for the cause, not the applause.”