Volunteer spotlight: Sarah Taylor
When Sarah Taylor was 13 years old, she spent months campaigning to convince her parents to buy her a dog. She wrote notes on a large white board and then set it in front of the front door every day, so they would be forced to see it.
“I suppose 13-year-olds can be annoying, because I eventually wore them down,” says Sarah. “We adopted our Rusty dog and I got to say ‘I told you so’ for the next 15 years, since he was everyone's favorite family member.”
Fast forward to now. Sarah is a wife and a new mom. She works for Ballet West in Salt Lake City, and she’s still a champion for animals through her work as a Best Friends volunteer.
"Sarah was one of the first volunteers to step up for the street team when we started it three years ago and she’s still one of the first to sign up for every event,” says Kim McDaniel, communications manager for Best Friends in Utah. “Sarah knows our programs as well as any of our staff, which is invaluable when we're getting lots of questions from the public at busy events. Whether it's someone wondering how to help community cats, a neighbor looking to volunteer or donate, or just an animal lover wanting to share a great story, Sarah is there to listen and help."
In the following interview, you’ll learn more about Sarah’s uncanny ability to beat everyone at a popular board game, and hear about her dog Moose. But mostly, you’ll learn about Sarah’s passion for helping Save Them All.
Why did you decide to volunteer with Best Friends and what motivates you to continue to help?
I wanted to adopt a dog, but I was about to move and felt that it was not a good time. I started in 2013 by walking dogs at the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Salt Lake City. It filled my need for puppy time.
During my first few months of volunteering, I attended the super adoption and I loved the atmosphere. I was so impressed by how many animals found homes that way, and I decided that events were a great way to connect with the community and support Best Friends. I like being on the street team, since most volunteer times are on weekends or evenings and the events are always fun.
What inspires you most in your volunteer work?
When I'm volunteering at events, people see the Best Friends logo and immediately tell me their adoption story or about how much the organization means to them.
What would you tell others thinking of becoming a volunteer at Best Friends?
There are lots of ways to support the organization. Don't hide things you are good at, since the staff will be happy to find the perfect volunteer spot for you.
Since becoming a Best Friends volunteer, what have you learned and do you see anything differently now?
I work for an arts nonprofit. It's a very different world, but I have been inspired by the way that Best Friends partners with other community organizations to accomplish their mutual goals. I have tried to take those principles back to work with me. I also appreciate the dog handling training. I feel more empowered when I encounter animals in my personal life.
In terms of your volunteer work for Best Friends, what are you most proud of?
I am proud to be an ambassador for Best Friends. I often talk about the organization and many friends and family have volunteered or attended events like Strut your Mutt. I like connecting people, so it always feels good to introduce people to Best Friends.
What does volunteering mean to you and why do you do it?
I leave a volunteer shift with an endorphin boost and a sense that I connected with the community and helped an organization that I care about. It is a foolproof recipe for a great day. I don't think of it as service, because it feels like such a self-care exercise.
Tell us about your favorite volunteer moment.
I usually work an early morning dog walking shift at the super adoption. One year I did this two days in a row. On the first day, there were hundreds of dogs to walk and feed to get ready for the adoption event. The next morning, I got there early, ready to go, and I found that there were lots of volunteers and lots of empty cages. It was so amazing to see how many dogs had gone home with families the day before.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with animals?
I love to hike and take walks around the neighborhood with my husband and nine-month-old baby.
Besides volunteering for Best Friends, how else do "give back" to your community?
I work for an arts nonprofit organization, which means I spend much of my time working with local artists. I also volunteer for a few other places around town.
Do you have pets?
I have a dog named Moose, Moose Dog or Mr. Moose on fancy days. He was adopted in 2011 from the Salt Lake Humane Society. He spends most of his time these days circling the highchair, hoping that my son will throw him some breakfast. He is a black Lab mix who makes friends wherever he goes, be they human, canine or feline. His best trick is peek-a-boo, when he runs behind you and pokes his head between your knees.
Do you have a super power?
I am very good at Clue, the board game. You don't want to play with me. You'll be wandering around the conservatory and I'll already be accusing. I also make excellent sandwiches, but I will only make you one if you can beat me in Clue.
Photos courtesy of Sarah Taylor