Q&A with a Social Purpose Champion

Our mission to #FirstServeOthers runs deep throughout our organization. In this and future issues of Spotlight we will highlight the Social Purpose activities of some of our colleagues. If you have a Social Purpose story you’d like us to share, please let us know!

Name: Desirae KenningtonDesirae Kennington, President, TLC Humane Society

Title: Marketing Manager

Company: Century Fire Protection

Location: Duluth, GA

Years with Company: 4

Social Purpose Role: Desirae chairs the newly formed Pets Working Group

What do you like best about the Social Purpose initiative at FirstService?

Our Social Purpose program makes it easy for people to get involved in causes that interest them. So many people want to give back and help others but they don’t know where to start. By offering opportunities to become part of our Working Groups and sharing ways to get involved in various causes on our Events Calendar, people can locate activities that interest them. I love that we are all encouraged to participate in Social Purpose activities, and are able to give back while we are at work.

What would you like to see the Pets Working Group accomplish?

This is a great group because a lot of people are passionate about pets. Our Working Group includes pet owners and those without their own pets who love animals and want to help them. The Working Group will come up with its own mission, but I see an opportunity to create a network where people are connected for a greater impact. Those who foster pets could share them with the network and help place them in permanent homes. And pet owners will have resources to tap into for questions about their own animals. I would love to see one animal event at each brand. It doesn’t have to be a big event to make an impact, even a small donation drive would make a difference for a shelter. As someone who is involved with a small local rescue group, I’d love to see us raise awareness of and support these smaller organizations who don’t have the big budget of the more known organizations but who are passionate advocates for animals in their communities.

If someone is interested in working with a local shelter how would you suggest they choose one?

I think transparency is important, and donors have a right to understand how their donations will be used, so financial transparency is key. I would ask about their budget and find out what they need. Sometimes it starts with a phone call. If the organization has a brick and mortar facility, I suggest arranging a site visit or a tour so you can see how the animals are cared for, how the facility is maintained, etc. Go, ask questions, and learn as much as you can. Also look at their social media presence and read their reviews. Many are listed on sites like Charity Navigator which provides additional information.

What types of volunteer opportunities exist with animal shelters?

Many people think of cleaning kennels and walking dogs when they think of volunteering at a shelter. These are certainly important duties, but there are so many other ways to help too. Do you like to write? Consider being a grant writer. If photography is a hobby, ask if they need help photographing their adoptable pets. They may also need help with facilities maintenance and chores like painting, landscaping, organizing, filing, etc. And when they have events they often need volunteers to help with planning, fundraising and day-of activities. Volunteering is a great way to sharpen skills you may not use in your day-to-day work life. You can stick your toe in the water and see how you like it. The other benefit of volunteering is that often you can do so when it’s convenient for you, and there may also be opportunities to volunteer with your spouse or kids.

Tell us how you came to be involved in animal rescue.

I’ve always been an animal lover and have had lots of pets. I first learned about TLC Humane Society in 2012 when my previous employer did a 5K and employees got to vote on where to donate the funds raised. TLC won, and the shelter director made a presentation to our group. I was inspired by the work they were doing to help animals and began volunteering there. I joined the Board of Directors in 2014 and served as Fundraising Chair. I went on to become Vice President and now serve as President, a position I’ve held for seven years.

How has your involvement with TLC helped you in your professional role?

My involvement has been rewarding on so many levels, it has definitely helped enhance my communication techniques as well as grow my people and time management skills. There are many facets of marketing and the shelter requires a different kind of marketing than what I do for Century. It has been a great creative outlet for me and helped keep my skills sharp. Many of the skills I use in my volunteer life such as problem solving are transferrable, and in particular my time at TLC has given me many opportunities to flex other muscles such as public speaking.

Check out some of TLC Humane Society’s Adoptable Pets

About TLC Humane Society

TLC Humane Society LogoTLC Humane Society is located in Dahlonega, GA and was founded in 1977. TLC’s mission is to provide compassionate care for dogs and cats by facilitating adoption and promoting responsible pet ownership in our community.