MAKING AN IMPACT · April 7th, 2018

Inside the Klondike Division’s Community Service Project

by Adrian Palacios


The Seattle Animal Shelter needed a makeover. The concrete kennels, where dogs slept, were cold and bleak. The outdoor area, where dogs exercised and interacted with prospective pet parents, wasn’t functional. The ground was a mix of rocks and weeds, and there was no place for volunteers to sit while they supervised playtime. The shelter just wasn’t as inviting as it could be.

On April 10th, the members of NVA’s Klondike Division changed that.

On the second day of their Regional Conference, 75 Hospital Managers, Managing Veterinarians, Division Leaders, and Support Center partners ascended on the shelter, rolled up their sleeves, and got to work on a series of improvements that would brighten the space, and bring their team together. “Our goal was to beautify the shelter in a way that might lead to more pet adoptions,” said John Demma, Klondike’s Director of Divisional Operations. “But it was also about fostering collaboration, strengthening bonds, and working together for a common cause.”

Like attendees of NVA’s other Regional Conferences, members of the Klondike Division spent some time with Chief Community Officer, Turpin Mott. They learned about personal and professional fulfillment, the Whole Person model, and how each of its four aspects — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — require balance in order to lead healthier, fuller lives. At various points throughout the conference, team members participated in activities that touched upon on each of the four aspects. The shelter beautification project was meant to cover the physical. And at this event, there was no shortage of activity.

The Klondike team hauls piles of mulch to help landscape the shelter’s yard.

Upon arrival, part of the team gathered outside to begin construction on wooden picnic tables and park benches for the yard. Others spread mounds of mulch across the area and vastly improved the landscaping. “The shelter volunteers spend so much time outside with dogs, helping them get exercise,” said Area Manager Jake Wakeman. “We wanted to create an environment they’d enjoy, and a nice place where families could get to know the dogs and watch how they play.”

Hospital Manager Kendra Keown and Managing Veterinarian Shawna Wedde of Chambers Creek Veterinary construct picnic tables for the shelter’s yard.

Inside, a second team tackled the kennel interiors. On the back wall of each enclosure, an artist outlined a unique scene — familiar local landscapes and warm, cozy settings. Volunteers then painted between the lines, using warm and welcoming colors. “The murals make the adoption areas more attractive,” said Klondike’s MRO, Dani LeCompte. “And they help visitors envision how a new pet would fit into their home.”

Marketing Manager Elena Popovici and Alaska Veterinary Clinic’s Associate Manager, Annamaria DiCola, paint murals inside the kennels.

The shelter was grateful for the team’s efforts. “We were thrilled to be a part of such a meaningful project in support of these animals,” said Dani. “The experience left a lasting impression on us all. After the event, some of our teammates reached back out to the shelter to volunteer or offer additional support.”

The Klondike team takes a break for a group shot in front of the Seattle Animal Shelter.

From the accountants at the Support Center, to the doctors on the front lines, much of what we already do is for the love of animals. They are why we come to work every day. And yet after this project, many on the team left more invigorated and unified than they were before. It could be said that they may have helped animals as much animals helped them.

“At the end of the day, we felt accomplished,” said Elena Popovici, a Field Marketing Manager for the West, and one of the shelter’s muralists. “When you volunteer to help animals, you do it knowing they can never repay you — but that day they kind of did. Our division’s bond is stronger. It was the best team building activity I’ve done.”

Dogs from the Seattle Animal Shelter in their newly painted kennels.

The Klondike team with one of the picnic tables they built.

View more pictures from the Klondike Division’s community service project here.

Adrian Palacios


Support Center | Agoura Hills, CA

Adrian serves the NVA community by managing internal communications. Feel free to contact him about the information, business initiatives, stories, and successes our community doesn’t know about yet, but should. He lives in Los Angeles with Finley, a Blue Nose Pitbull, and Madison, a black-nosed-dairy-cow-patterned-bully-breed mix.

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