While taking in hundreds of homeless kittens and pups over the past 40 years, SICSA Pet Adoption Center might have accidentally attracted a whole other kind of species— some of Dayton’s most enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers.
Every day, numerous volunteers cycle in and out of the Kettering animal shelter to help the successful operation continue running smoothly. There are many people who truly give their all to SICSA, and these three individuals are prime examples of the unconditional love that the center’s volunteers show every day.
A former science teacher of 35 years in the Beavercreek City Schools, Bob Group was enjoying his retirement, but wanted something else to add to his leisurely golf outing routine.
“When I retired in 2012 from teaching, I wanted to do something productive with my time,” Group said. “There are only so many golf balls you can hit into the lake.”
First introduced to the adoption center during SICSA’s Lift Your Leg! 5K, Group started out with a once-a-week trip to SICSA, cleaning out the cat rooms and socializing with the kittens. Since then, Group has expanded his volunteering to off-site fundraising events and even assisting the veterinarians in the center’s clinic.
“I like the fact that the types of things volunteers are asked to do are critical to SICSA’s mission,” Group said. “I really like working with the staff. They’re very dedicated people, always so appreciative.”
A very active volunteer in the SICSA community, Kayla Nicol-Deis not only devotes a lot of time to the animals at the center, but also the kiddos who come in to learn and play with them.
By invitation, Nicol-Deis has join the Volunteer Advisory Committee, and in the summertime she is a camp counselor for the different kids’ camp sessions SICSA hosts.
“At first I was just doing a few normal 2-hour shifts. I really liked it and wanted to do more,” Nicol-Deis siad. “I like getting to interact with the kids and the animals at the same time ... Some of the kids you end up getting really close with, because we get a lot of good kids.”
For Nicol-Deis, SICSA is unlike any other adoption center.
“I like that it’s not like a big chain. Everybody knows about [the] humane society and stuff like that, but not everybody knows about SICSA,” Nicol-Deis said. “You really get to know the people there as well. It’s harder to get to know and interact with everyone at a bigger place.”
According to the center’s Executive Director, Nora Vondrell, Leslie Batta is one cat short of a crazy cat lady— minus the crazy.
“She is just a force,” Vondrell said.
During her first six months volunteering at the center, Batta and her husband have fostered 25 kittens in their home, while never overlapping stays.
“There’s only so much room for them in the center,” Batta said. “These kittens are tiny still, and (fostering) gets them off the street ... Fostering is huge for any organization. It gets the animals better prepared to be adoptable.”
Although she has kittens waiting for her at home, Batta still manages to spend long hours at the center volunteering, even on her birthday.
“I just had a birthday and one of the things I wanted to do for my birthday was have a relaxing hour with the cats at the center, and I did,” Batta said.