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Making a Difference: Woman helps local animal shelter get faithful volunteers

Maura McQuaide, volunteer coordinator at the Humane Society of Cambria County, is making sure the cats and dogs are cared for by loving volunteers every day. (WJAC)

Abused, abandoned and lost animals that end up in the Humane Society of Cambria County have a second chance at life, thanks to volunteers who give them unconditional love.

In this week's making a difference, one woman is donating her time to make sure they animal shelter always getting more volunteers and she makes them want to help the animals for a long time.

All of the cats and dogs in the Humane Society of Cambria County in Richland Township are one paw closer to a happier life.

Maura McQuaide helps to make that possible.

“It’s like you feel like you made a difference, even if it's just for an hour,” McQuaide said.

Over a year ago, she became the no-kill shelter's first volunteer coordinator.

“It’s made me a different person and I hope for the better, but I love it. I love the volunteers, they know that I tell them that and I hug all of them. I'm like their mother!” McQuaide said with a laugh.

McQuaide gets people interested in helping and holds orientations, where she shows off the facility and their four legged friends.

“When I’m doing the orientations sometimes I choke up, I still choke up even though I do it twice a week cause you see them and they look at you with those sad eyes and you kind of tell their stories to the volunteers so they get to know them,” McQuaide said.

She also gets volunteers and adoptable pets to fundraisers, including a kitty cats and yoga mats event a few weeks ago.

Being retired with three rescue dogs of her own, executive director of the Humane Society of Cambria County, Jessica Vamos said this is a purr-fect role for the outgoing animal lover.

“She definitely gets the volunteers very excited for the job they're taking on. She makes the jobs that aren't so glamorous could be the most fun thing you could do like scooping a litter box. So I really think her personality is good fit for us and our volunteers just adore her and she's a big reason that they stay,” Vamos said.

The animal shelter has about 40 faithful volunteers but they always need more.

The small staff there relies on them to give the animals extra care and attention.

“The people I meet, they are unbelievable. They come here, and it's not glamorous to volunteer here, you get down to the nitty-gritty, you make their lives as comfortable as possible, loving them, giving them attention. It's so rewarding and the people I have met are just unbelievable and everyone has a passion for animals. We all get along, everyone started becoming friends, it's like a big family,” McQuaide said.

Some days volunteering at the shelter, can cause heartbreak but McQuaide always knows how to make the ruff times, better.

“Maura is a breath of fresh air. A lot of the times our staff has really hard days here at the shelter because as happy as it can be, it can be very sad and angering. We go through a lot of emotions throughout the day then Maura walks through the door for her volunteer orientations with a smile on her face no matter what's going on. She listens to everyone,” Vamos said.

While cleaning and cuddling, all of the volunteers and employees keep one hope in mind.

"That they get adopted to a beautiful home right away but while they're here temporarily we try to do the best we can, we try to give them love and that's the most important, that's why we need volunteers,” McQuaide said.

McQuaide will keep working hard so there will be more belly rubs and wagging tails ahead.

“I don't think I make a difference, I mean really a truly it's the volunteers that do... I'm just lucky I came in when I did and I was asked to do this. I meet such great and compassionate people and so is the staff, so I just consider myself very lucky,” McQuaide said.

The animal shelter's next fundraiser will be pictures with Santa, bring your pets in to meet the big man himself this Sunday, November 18th, noon to 3:00 p.m.

If you would like to become a volunteer, you can download an application on the Humane Society of Cambria County’s website and send it in. Then you have to go through an orientation.

You can also make a donation on their website and stay up to date with events on the animal shelter's Facebook page.

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