When first contemplating what I could do for my Seva project, I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do something to help animals. As an avid cat lover and having adopted my own cat, Amanzi, from the Fort Collins Cat Rescue, it naturally followed that I thought of volunteering with their organization for my Seva. I adopted my cat six years ago from the rescue, and he has become one of my very best friends and partners in this wonderful life, teaching me many yogic lessons across that time. I wanted to give back in some way to this organization that had given me so much, and also done so much good for many animals over the years.
Through exploring the Fort Collins Cat Rescue website I learned that there was a big gala event coming up within the month and they were in need of additional volunteers. The event is called Whiskers N’ Wags Jubilee and the theme this year was Hollywood: A Night at the Mewvies. This is the FCCR’s largest fundraising event of the year and brings 300-400 members of the community together to raise money for the rescue and their mission of preventing pet homelessness. According to their website, theyadopt out over 2,000 cats and kittens each year, and have rescued over 17,500 cats since they began work. I stand behind their mission, and am so appreciative and encouraged by the work they do that I was very excited to volunteer my time. I enthusiastically signed up for three separate shifts at the event: greeting and assisting guests when they arrive, helping to package silent auction items and deliver them to the winners, and also delivering larger auction items to the winners’ houses the following day. I even convinced my boyfriend to join the fun and sign up for a couple shifts with me.
The day of the event was a challenging and emotional day in my personal life and I felt a little discouraged that these challenges coincided with the day of my Seva. Through my own yoga practice I have learned to trust the natural flow of life, and that there is always a space of peace and stillness even amidst difficulty. Yoga has helped me to see that all things happen in a perfect order and that there is a lesson in everything. I realized that practicing selfless service sometimes means setting our own stories and difficulties aside in order to give ourselves to a greater purpose.
I got dressed up and ready and went to the Hilton in time for the start of my first volunteer shift. There was a palpable anticipation in the air, like the calm before the storm, as I joined the other volunteers and we prepared ourselves for the first guests to arrive. As the guests began pouring in, I greeted the ones that came my way, directed them to the check-in table, and assisted them with any other questions they had. I couldn’t help but contemplate the incredible beauty of seeing so many people, both guests and volunteers, coming together to raise money to help rescue and support homeless cats in our community. In yoga we give of ourselves, not in order to get something in return, but simply because we find joy in giving. I noticed that in giving without expecting anything in return, we actually multiply our own joy and find we have even more to give.
After my first shift was over, I wandered around the space for a while and explored the event. Everyone was elegantly dressed, the whole ballroom was set up with round tables and chairs, and a red carpet was laid out leading up to the stage, which held two giant golden cat statues – all to mimic a night at the Oscar’s. There was a silent auction, a live auction, drawings, dinner, and live music, along with several other activities. I was impressed by the amount of creativity and dedication that everyone involved had put into this event.
Later in the evening my boyfriend and I joined with the other volunteers to assist in packaging the auction items into boxes and distributing them to the winners. There was a bit of hustle and bustle and chaotic energy as all the guests filtered out of the ballroom and into a line to receive their items. As would be imagined there were a few hiccups in getting people their items and a few agitated guests. Some of the volunteers were getting anxious with all the energy, but we had to remind ourselves that we were doing all this for the cats. I took a deep breath and sunk into the moment, and decided to just enjoy the hectic and fast-paced commotion of all the people. Within no time it seemed that each guest in line had received the items they had won. After everyone had filtered out, the remaining volunteers and I began breaking everything down and cleaning up the auction tables and rooms.
I was truly awed and amazed by how much energy had been put into this entire event. It was inspiring to witness so many people putting their time, effort, and money towards helping other beings in need. And doing it selflessly, for beings that will never have any idea of all that was done. It’s truly self-less service. To me these are times when humanity really shines, when we do something that benefits a cause greater than ourselves. Inevitably, it spreads out and affects so many more living beings than could ever be measured.
If you too are interested in volunteering with the cat rescue, or would like to adopt one of their precious rescued kitties, please visit their website to learn more.
~Alison LaTona, 200-hour TTC Participant