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"It's okay to not always be okay..."An interview with Eric

What initially drew you to AATPC?

I was in search of a volunteer opportunity and reached out to a friend of mine who's business partners with non-profits each month to help raise money. While at her store I asked if she knew of any good places to volunteer to which she asked, "what are you interested in?" When I replied, "anything with animals or mental health" it took her about 10 seconds to retrieve a flyer she had from AATPC after an event a few weeks prior. I have always had an interest in mental health, and who doesn't like animals? Seemed like it was meant to be :)

What do you do at AATPC?

Over the years I've done pretty much everything animal related. Initially I worked with a group to feed and clean both the inside and outside animal areas. Currently I and a few other wonderful volunteers are responsible for feeding and mucking all of the outdoor animals, but I almost always come in early to visit and/or play with the indoor animals.

How long have you been volunteering with AATPC?

Over 3 years!

What is your favorite story from AATPC? OR What is your biggest takeaway from AATPC?

Favorite story: the time I had spent 20 minutes filling the tractor with muck before Daisy, who likes to use the tractor as a scratching post, managed to pull the lever and dump the whole bucket on the ground. I still think she thinks it was hilarious... Reluctantly I agree, but having to muck all over again was less than ideal.

Takeaway: Every animal has a unique personality, and just like humans they have good days and bad days. It's important to recognize when they want attention and also when they want to be left alone. We just need to be there for them, even if it means being there from a distance. AATPC has taught me a lot about how it's okay to not always be okay.

What do you do when you're not volunteering? What are your job(s) and/or hobby(ies)?

I love programming (my day job), so I'm usually developing websites or applications. Often they relate to mental health, like turning a DBT skill into an interactive mobile app. Stained glass, hiking, and cooking are also personal favorites.

What would you say to others who are interested in working with AATPC?

It is sometimes challenging, often fun, and always rewarding. For better or worse you will get attached, but you'll never regret the chance to get to know the animals while they're here. The people you'll meet along the way are just the cherry on top.


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