A Rescue Volunteer's Story, by Tess Colley
I finally got my Certified Felix Trained Certificate! The story of how I ended up receiving the CFT certificate for being the volunteer of the month isn't long or complicated. It is the result of my conviction that anyone, anywhere can help birds in need. The amount of money you have, what you do for a living, how young or old you are, whether you have physical challenges in your life or any other thing you can come up with, should not prevent you from making a difference in the lives of these wonderful creatures. If you have a will, then there is a way.
My journey with rescue birds and volunteering began about 8 years ago when I met a patient who had a parrot rescue in my area. I was fascinated by her tales of the antics of the birds in her rescue. As she began to tell me the stories of what some of these birds had endured I found myself wanting to help them have a better life. I owned a busy medical practice and didn't have time to volunteer at the physical rescue at that time so I started out helping provide food and other items for the rescue birds, helping make posters and flyers for bird exhibits to raise money for the rescue and generally trying to assist in any way I could.
One day she brought a bird by my clinic for me to see. When the bird saw me, she came right to me, put her head up inside my hair and started to purr. She groomed my hair and let me give her scritches. Flirt came home with me that day and remains a part of our family. Having Flirt in my life really made me realize that each bird had a story and personality and that they had a tremendous desire to have a flock to be a part of. I believe this brought an even deeper belief in me that I could find some way to help enrich the lives of rescue birds without owning them all!
I worked with that rescue for several years until it closed due to the owners health problems. After the rescue closed there was no other rescues near me that I could offer my assistance to but I kept looking for opportunities, helping my daughter and other friends with their birds, helping find homes for birds that were in need and keeping my eyes open for other ways to be a part of the bird community and of course being a bird ambassador by telling everyone about my wonderful bird!
One day while in Petco I came across a lone green cheek in a plexiglass cage. He saw me, came running over to the glass and ran right into it! He bonked off, jumped up and ran towards me again. He stopped just short of the glass and laid his head against the glass wanting his head scratched. He too was looking for a flock to call his own. I couldn't leave him there. Watson came home with me that day. Do you see a pattern here? I can't go to Petco any more, I want to bring them all home.I had to find another way to help birds without bringing them home.
One day while I was looking at bird rescue sites I came across Hurlin's Parrot Rescue. Hurlin's had many programs for anyone who wanted to volunteer but they were 3000 miles away from me. I live in Washington State and Hurlin's is in Michigan, I wondered how I could make that work. I learned you could "sponsor" a bird. For me it meant another opportunity to help birds in need while helping out a rescue doing great work. There were many different levels of sponsorship so pretty much anyone that wanted to help would be able to. I started by sponsoring one bird and now I sponsor 2 for a year at a time. It helps pays for food, medicine and other necessities for that bird.
I emailed Hurlin's about the different birds and what I could do to help and Tara was very encouraging. She did not care if I was 3000 miles away, if I wanted to help birds, then she wanted to give me a place to do that. I think all rescues are pretty much the same. If you are seriously looking to help birds, they can use your help. You would be amazed at how even the smallest thing can be a help. I started thinking I could try to make toys for birds in need. I had no idea what I was doing when I started so I just made things that looked fun to me. I made toys for the birds in the rescue. I made toys for friends birds and my daughters birds. I began shipping those toys to the rescue and I later learned what a blessing they were to Tara. She has a full time job in addition to running the rescue which is pretty much the norm for most rescues. I could take a little bit of the weight off of her by providing toys that she did not have to make. It is a match made to order.
I firmly believe that everyone who has a heart for birds can find a way to get involved. Find a rescue, ask what you can do to help that is within your capabilities and you will find that any amount of help is welcome and needed.
Tess Colley, Certified Felix Trained and Rescue Volunteer