Why We Volunteer


Everyone volunteers for their own personal reasons, but in general, volunteers have the biggest hearts you will ever encounter. They are among the most compassionate people on the planet. They may only have a few hours to spare, or they may have lots, but they give what they have freely and with passion.
CVAS has some amazing volunteers, we are blessed to have such a caring group of people. We want to share some of their stories with you. Why they volunteer, what they receive from it, how it changes their lives, how they got started... We hope to inspire some of you who may be hesitate or unsure if volunteering is right for you.

Without further ado, here they are telling their own stories.


Beth Durnell

I volunteer at Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary because I love animals and hate to see them without homes, or get put down at the pound just because their time is up. I have been a foster parent for quite a few dogs in the past, two of which I still have, and recently cats, two of which are still with us.

I like to foster because it gives the animals a chance to be out of the shelter environment for a while and to see what kind of house manners they have or if they get along with other animals. The only hard part is when you get attached to the animals you are fostering and don’t want to give them up, which is what happened with my youngest dog and two youngest cats that I now have.

When I volunteer at the Sanctuary, which is only a couple days a week, I mostly take pictures of the cats, but I also clean cat cages, clean rooms that the cats are in, write some of their bios for the website, fold laundry, wash dishes, and walk dogs. I have also taken some dogs to obedience class to help them have better manners. Right now we are starting a dog class for volunteers to train the dogs and make them more adoptable.


Stormy Wallace

Stormy fosters many animals for CVAS every year and volunteers in other ways too, like at our recent Subaru Love-a-Pet Adoption Drive in Spokane. I asked Stormy why she fosters animals, when so many people think they could never do it, and here is what she told me.

"Why I foster?  The animals need help, I love animals, and CVAS gets some breathing room so they can help more animals.

A lot of the animals have already had to experience a traumatic break from their former home, or have been injured prior to finding their way to CVAS.  Time at a foster home helps them overcome the stresses and become better socialized again.  I love animals and to see them become happy again is a great reward.  It's easy to get attached to each other, but another reward is seeing the Joy of a young family, a couple, or a single person finding their new forever friend and how happy they are.  CVAS always seems to be able to find the perfect match's."

(above: Stormy at the Subaru event, introducing Buddy to a new friend)


Stormy with Buddy (left) at the Subaru adoption drive in Spokane

This is Stormy, kneeling behind Rosalee the cocker spaniel. Stormy fostered Rosalee and nursed her back to health after Rosalee was hit by a car and suffered a concussion and was in poor shape due to many years of neglect. This was the day Rosalee went home with her new family, looking like a new dog thanks to the love and care she received from Stormy.

This is what Rosalee looked like on the day she came into the shelter. With love and care she became a totally new dog, thanks in large part to Stormy.



Carrie Kurlo

After jumping at the chance for an early retirement from my 30 year postmaster job I found myself wondering, "Now what??"  So I started thinking about my options. I started looking for a part time job, wow, what a reality check! 

While searching online about pets, I started seeing two different Colville pet rescue sites, I clicked on CVAS and clicked on Volunteers. The light came on, if I couldn't get anyone to hire me I'd go somewhere they couldn't say I was over qualified, they'd have to give me a chance!!! And the best part was I could help dogs and cats which is something I've always wanted to do.



(Above: Carrie with Fletch, a dog who was separated from his previous owner, when he passed away quite suddenly, and came into the shelter suffering from anxiety and mental trauma)


Pat called me right away and set up a day for me to come in and meet the crew. Not knowing what it was all about I felt like I had walked into a whirlwind. A basement full of cats, a barn full of dogs, oh my!!  I was so impressed with the dedication and love these people have for the critters they were caring for that I knew I had found my niche.

I have always been dismayed at how cruel and ignorant the human race is. Animals have no choice in how their lives turn out and no way to call for help so it is up to people like us who do what little we can by volunteering at CVAS. Bless them all!
I was born in Colville and have lived in Metaline Falls for over 50 years. We bought a house in Colville a few years ago and intend someday to move over there full time. I've always liked Colville and have made some awesome new friends. In the mean time I have been burning up the highway going back and forth.

So thank you CVAS for what you do!!!!!

Carrie with Luke


Jenna Tracy


I've always enjoyed helping wherever needed.  After being a stay at home mom for 3 years, I'd started feeling like I was just a mom/wife and missed being a part of something more.  So, I prayed about it and waited for an opportunity to open up.  It wasn't long after this I saw an article about Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary preparing for the winter.  I got on their website and knew I'd found what I was looking for!!!


I live in Spokane and have little ones, so physically volunteering at the facility isn't something I can do often.  I grew up going to a private school as well as working for various non-profits, so I've done my share of fundraising and decided I'd do what I can raising funds and community awareness for CVAS.  I've organized several simple fundraisers.  I'm still learning what works and what doesn't, but it's been great to be a small part of an organization that cares and treats homeless animals as if they were their own.  

Jenna and her husband Jeremy insulating the
puppy cabin



Sometimes you'll become a CVAS volunteer without even realizing it!


This is Mike, Sue Seabolt's brother. He came to Colville for a nice family visit and before he knew what was happening...

He found himself at the Sanctuary up to his elbows in soapy water washing kitty bowls :O)

So be warned...you just never know when it will happen to you!

Sue Seabolt


Sue says that she started volunteering when a friend, Pat Lowe, mentioned to her that CVAS was always in need of volunteers.

She saw this as a great way to spend a little more time visiting with Pat, while helping the animals at the same time.

She thought, "how hard could cleaning a cat box be."

But from her very first day, she felt very satisfied in knowing that she made a small difference somehow to the kitties. 

She says that as she continued to volunteer, she found that she really came to look forward to her one morning a week at the shelter. While washing dishes one day at the Sanctuary the thought crossed her mind that, she felt a little like a Hero to her charges! They needed her and she was making a real difference in their lives!  That is what volunteering is all about!


Bill & Lorraine Schanzenbach

Volunteers and Former Directors of the Board

Bill is primarily responsible for the financial and recording keeping aspects of the Sanctuary including filing required forms/returns to state and federal agencies. Occasionally, he helps with animal transports (primarily to the west side of the state) , he also assists with facility-related maintenance issues, and helps with food transport and distribution. Bill also helps Lorraine, on occasion, with her TNR activities.

Lorraine works mainly with cats and spends many hours out in the field rescuing sick, injured and homeless animals.

Lorraine also spends days at the shelter, cleaning, feeding and medicating our animals. She originally was with Stevens County Cat Care, an organization that provides a monthly low-cost spay/neuter clinic.  As you can see, Lorraine also loves the sanctuary puppies.




JoAnn became involved with the Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary about four years ago when a starving and near-death mastiff showed up at her home. She likes to spend time at the shelter walking and working with the dogs. The last animal she took home to train as a therapy dog ended up being adopted by Boeing as a Bomb sniffer since she was also working with him for the possibility as a search and rescue dog.








Pat Lowe


Little did I know, the day I called the Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary, that my life was about to change. I saw an article in the newspaper one day asking for people to help at the Sanctuary with the animals. I thought to myself, I’m retired and have a couple of hours a week to help out, so I called the number in the paper and connected with Nancy Rose, the kennel manager.

After a nice conversation I was turned over to Pam Smith, one of the cat volunteers. Now, I am a dog person, in my 70 years of life I have never lived in a home without a dog and never will. I love cats also; I have 7, guess I love them both. I was told they really needed help with the cat side so I was scheduled to meet Pam at the sanctuary and learn the ropes; that is the day my life changed.

It was an overwhelming sight, all these cats and little kittens, all colors, sizes and ages. There must have been 50 on that day, the healthy ones in large wire crates with warm little beds, liter box, food, water and toys in each crate. Little families were together, some were by themselves and many of the healthy adults were in a specially made room called “Nancy’s Adoption Room”.

The cats that were sick were in isolation rooms. After some supervision on how to clean the cages without the cats and kittens getting out in the process, I started to get the hang of it. I actually came back the following week and the week after that.

During the process of learning, I also saw how too many of the animals come in so sick and neglected and how hard the volunteers worked to treat them and make them well  again so they could be adopted. I am proud to say that I now fall into that same category of care-giver.

Some of the horrendous situations that brought these cats, kittens, dogs and puppies to the Sanctuary made me ashamed of the human race; thank goodness they are the minority. I watched the same situation with the intake of dogs and puppies and felt so thankful that CVAS was here in Stevens County.

What is so incredible is that there are only a few core volunteers, yet they do so much. I thought I knew everything about our organization, but I was wrong. When we had our horrible fire on Nov. 16, 2011, losing 3 sweet innocent animals, I felt an unbearable heartbreak and sadness and asked, WHY Lord did they have to die like that, WHY?

Instead of our volunteers falling apart, they grew stronger.

We had an out-pouring of support from people all over the country, helping in any way they could. If these people and other organizations believed in what we were doing enough to help us, then not only could we not let our remaining animals down, and those to come, but we could not let these people and other organizations down.

We pulled together and we stayed strong. There had been a Stevens County Cat Care spay and neuter clinic scheduled for the following Sunday, (after the fire) many of our cats and kittens had been scheduled to go and in the true fashion of our group, our volunteers were there to help and get our kitties spayed and neutered.

What a great group of volunteers. During my time as a volunteer I have come to realize, that I am 72 years old, this is my last chance to make a difference in something very important, and that is why I am a volunteer with the Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary.


Pat Lowe

Vice President


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