Monday, July 17, 2006

The importance of good volunteers

I was out with Marcus, Michelle and JaQ last night and we walked by the site of our first cat cafe so we stopped to take a look. To our dismay and disappointment, the cafe was gone. There was just a slab of cement in the area. The management had not let us know that they were tearing it down.

This cafe was set up a few years ago and I have to say that a very important lesson from it - you can have the best management in the world who are very supportive, but without volunteers it is of no use whatsoever. The top management in this establishment were supportive - but they weren't the ones looking after the cafe. They sent out a call for volunteers and literally more then a dozen people signed up.

The problem is that volunteers there were just not very good. They were only interested in sprinkling cat food and playing with the cats. We taught them how to trap, but they did not do it very often. When we went down to check on the cats, and noticed a sick cat, we asked a volunteer about it. Her response? She only fed the cats on a roster, she wasn't there to check their health. One asked if she could bring cats from her area to the cafe.

In the end, the cafe self-destructed because the volunteers realised it needed work and weren't prepared to do it. So make sure you have the volunteer infrastructure before starting. I've seen other estates with just one committed volunteer and they were much better run than this area.

Now the cats have gone back to wandering around the food areas again.

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