Monday, November 28, 2005

Blood, Sweat & Tears

Now to offer my 2 cents on the AVA roadshow...

Weeeeelllll.... *winces*... must I really????

The Roadshow was fun, as it always is when you get to hang out with tons of animals and speak to people about something you're passionate about. Although less satisfying than the World Animal Day event, it was great nonetheless. Could have been better for a variety of reasons, but I will get into that... slowly.

I got there in the morning with The Styler and her charges of 2 lightning bolts. Bolt 1, Callas, was shivering in the car and I had to carry him to try to calm him down a bit. The poor thing does instead have the 6th sense. And its not to see dead people with! Everything was already up and running when we got there, with the other fosters protectively doting on their lovelies and volunteers tending to the merch booth. As usual there was no briefing, as usual I had no idea what to do, and as usual, I just poked my nose in wherever I saw fit. Which brings to mind, Observation Satu.

Why are there no briefings? Just like at the previous adoption drive, I had to figure out what to do by observing others. How efficient could that be if one were just ever so slightly more perceptively impaired? Thankfully there were 2 experienced and excellent volunteers I could observe (1 tending merch and the other, a foster, tending to interested adopters), and I decided to go with talking to adopters, since I had already done it for the previous drive (which was the very first time I had done it, and was about the ONLY ONE doing it ALL day!!!). I apologise if I may have misinformed any (altho the last I checked I think I was cleared), I do not believe I am above human error. Especially when my only instruction came from secretly spying on others, a couple of metres away! And when I ask for instruction, the coveted reply is "Just do lor!". A take on the famous slogan in the true blue Singaporean style that I love so well!

Needless to say, the drive soon became slightly chaotic as the day wore on. At Bishan Park, we were spoilt for space but had our ears blasted to the high heavens. At Ngee Ann City, noise level was acceptable but armpit sweat threatened to fill our flaring nostrils. In that tiny area of about 5 medium-sized steps long and 3 medium-sized steps wide, fosters, volunteers, potential adopters and interested animal lovers practically did the jiggy with it with each other; the cats must have been amused. Eventually another foster turned up and decided to man the 'entrance' and things became alot more manageable. I decided to be her heavy and together we decided the fate of many worshippers of those feline gods we had caged. I found that, on contraire to popular belief, there was really no need for hostilities when siphoning out truly interested adopters from the curious onlooker. In fact, all the folks I spoken to were really polite and understanding when I explained to them why we had to control the amount of people allowed into the area and why we wouldn't take the cats out of the cage or let them handle the cats without the fosters' approval. I recall a certain incident not too long ago when a well-meaning but unforgivably clueless volunteer growled at a poor guy who really only wanted to take a closer look at the kitties. Why so defensive? Does it not occur to you that, while no one gives a blooming grape about your reputation or the lack of it, your behaviour could have and most likely reflected really badly on the society? Even if you must be up in arms, at least do it in knightly fashion! I still say that better management and prepping of volunteers could have very easily kept these unfortunate events at bay. To the gent whose feathers were ruffled those months ago, I apologize to thee. She really did only mean well though curt her tongue might have been.

Observation Sorn. The heat, droning and lack of sleep from the night before soon took a toll on my functional state and I decided to go get a drink. When I came back I thought I'd just observe a bit. Well, it didn't take long for the fact to hit me in the face that there needs to be a whole lot more management. I heard that there was an urgent need for volunteers... but, honestly, how many volunteers can one tiny place hold? At one time I counted 9 volunteers and about 5 fosters squeezed into the area, together with the swarm of adopters and onlookers. I would have thought that 2 manning the merch booth, 2 manning the entrance and 2 tending to the adopters would have sufficed. At no time was anyone swarmed over with too many people (or cats) to handle, anyway. The frantic call for help; hands that eventually went to waste anyway. Some volunteers were really excited to help, but lack of instruction and direction led some to just sit behind and stone/fag, while others busied themselves poking, stroking and snapping the kitties. Is it serious inefficiency or just my seriously impaired judgment?

Observation Trois.... You know what, to hell with Observation Trois. I'm tired just thinking about it. Basically it is NOT the time to be grooming your cats while volunteers are trying to secure a future for your charges. Fur flying in faces is NOT a sure way to guarantee an adoption! There just needs to be more organization to maximally utilize the resources that are available and calling for exploitation. Do fosters do the talking, or volunteers, or both? Do the fosters stay in or out? Do the volunteers stay in or out? Do the fosters stay behind and only come when they called, or is that what volunteers do? What do we say? What do we do? Honestly, it was extremely saddening and disheartening to know that the event could have been so much more efficient and better organized, and it wasn't. The ones that suffer are the cats and no one else. Is it worth it? Really? Is it really a good reason when the excuse "But we are all just volunteers. You can't expect us to give up everything" is given? I am a volunteer and I say, it is not. It is inexcusable to screw up someone's else's hardwork just because you think you are entitled to. If you don't have the heart, don't do it. If you can't give the time, don't say you'll give it. Please, a little reality check will be good for you (and everyone else). I'm not saying don't volunteer if you can't give an arm and a leg, all I'm saying is within your means, ah, tolong!

BUT!!! Despite all my 'observations', the adoption drive didn't go all that bad. One cat managed to get adopted on that day itself and many more interested parties have applied to adopt the other cats. Many transactions took place and I think merch sold like hotcakes. At the end of the day we all went back feeling a little happier to know that we had spent our Sunday on a good cause. Yet I cannot deny that I am disappointed coz really, who knows how many more adoptions could have been secured, how many more sceptics won over, how many more hearts touched so that they might volunteer/donate, and how many more cats feeling a little more comfortable that Sunday....


I sign out.

~The Flyer


Dawn said...

Some interesting points brought up Flyer - we're actually going to stop adoption drives in the meantime while we revamp the procedure and had decided this prior to the event. We did use to have briefings, but we found that some people were uninterested, so we felt that the best thing to do was to have one experienced volunteer and have people basically watch what they were doing. There is an FAQ for Merchandise that answers some of these questions as well.

We actually were extremely short of people - hence the call for help, but everyone tends to want to come at the same time. For example, no one could help from Sunday 5 pm onwards, but a lot of people wanted to come on Saturday.

Most volunteers are amazing - some volunteers are there to fulfill criteria. Unfortunately I have had quite a few people whom I briefed but were there to 'serve time' and it can be a bit disheartening sometimes when they're so obviously not interested. As such, we found that the people who WERE genuinely interested would just jump in and ask questions - much as you did. The ones who weren't interested weren't interested no matter what you told them.

=^..^= said...

I am a big believer in adoption drives. I know how powerful they can be if done right. There is nothing like looking at a cat in front of you as compared to a still digital shot posted on the Internet.

Adoption drives are also important because it gives us a chance to speak to the public and clear up whatever misconceptions they may have. It's amazing the number of myths about cats people have come to accept as facts.

But, I agree... a better system needs to be in place and volunteers need to show more iniative. The disinterested who already feel inconvenienced should rethink why they are doing this.

I look forward to an even more successful CWS adoption drive... hopefully not too far off from now. Let's all work better together for the sake of the Society and the cats.

=^..^= said...

Oops... forgot to sign off. That was me... 5-Cat Style.

Moglee said...

5 cat Style, I love the pixs. Beautiful!

I have not volunteered. I hope to do so. I too experienced the volunteer and fosterer behaviour. Sorry to say it but it is very disorganised. Most of them has their own mind on how to do it. I pray the potential adopters will ignore their attitude.

Dawn said...

Good points - at the moment, it's not a CWS event as such in that the cats are not fostered for CWS. We have so few people who actually foster for us (around 5) that we actually organise it for people to bring their own cats in that they have picked up. As such, we need to let them handle the adoption as they like which can lead to problems. This is why we need to rethink the whole concept.

We cannot of course adopt someone else's cat out for them as they have different criteria. At one drive, someone left the cat and disappeared, and we adopted the cat out. When she came back at the end of the day, she didn't like the person the team had chosen and wanted the cat back. Since then, we've asked the fosters to handle the adoptions themselves.

Dawn said...

I should clarify that we had around two CWS fosters there on the day. The rest were all members of the public who wanted to bring their cats for adoption.

kuro.shiro.neko said...

your observations are well documented, Flyer. may i just add my 2 cents in addition to what dawn said.

we do try to give briefings but volunteers come at different times, which makes it hard. for merchandise, i "try" to give newbies a brief intro. honestly if i just throw them our faq, doubt they can absorb all!

so i tell them do come to one of the more senior volunteers or comm if they have queries, and that includes from the public.

i've had a volunteer who apparently has a mind of her own and was quite blunt in addressing someone's query. not that it's frowned upon, but we are afterall representing CWS at the event, so any "personal" opinions should be kept to a minimum, esp radical ones. *gasp*

not everyone is as conscientious , so we just have to keep our eyes (and ears) open, to learn and "dis-learn"!

=^..^= said...

Hey Moglee, Dawn & Kuro.Shiro.Neko!

Thanks for writing! It is undoubted that event organizing (or any type of organizing, for that matter) is never ever easy. There are so many factors to consider and even more unexpected ones waiting to spring surprises on you. Yes, organization of such events are tricky and it always takes a few trials and errors, more tweakings and tailorings, before it becomes a solid piece of work. I look forward to the time when that happens, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll be soon. I've had the good fortune of meeting some of the most dedicated and selfless people ever, from CWS, and I do hope that future adoption drives will be an better testament to those precious people and this selfless cause. :) All the best to the organizers! May solutions and resolutions come as easy as peasy and as effortlessly as a pure, rich, 70% cocoa, cup of hot chocolate!:D

~The Flyer