Volunteer Spotlights

Meet just a few of the dedicated and passionate volunteers who enable PAWS to save lives every day! PAWS is proud to recognize these volunteers for going above and beyond to serve homeless shelter animals. Join our volunteer family!

Kimberly Pollock


Kim began as a dog walking volunteer at our Old City Adoption center in April 2017. “My favorite thing about volunteering is definitely helping the animals get into their forever homes (and helping people find the perfect match to complete their families) alongside the tireless PAWS staff and volunteers who are a wonderful bunch of people.”

Kim is involved in so many areas as a PAWS volunteer. Along with caring for shelter animals, Kim represents PAWS at adoption and fundraising events around the city, leads orientations to bring new volunteers into the fold, is a foster parent (she is a “dog person” who has fostered three cats!), and an and comes to the shelter every Saturday to help process adoptions. “PAWS has done so much for me in the short time I’ve been a volunteer; I’ve made so many connections and friends and it’s wonderful spending time with everyone involved in the organization. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence, which has helped me plenty in my everyday life, and I get to spend time with dogs and cats whenever I’m there! It’s the best”.

Kim brings happy, positive energy every time she volunteers and we are so lucky to have her!

Barbara Morrison


Barbara began as a cat care volunteer at our Old City Adoption Center in October 2011. After caring for the cats, she gradually began working with the dogs at the Old City and Grays Ferry PAWS locations, as well. “My love for animals drew me to PAWS. If there is anything I can do to save lives, care for them and make them feel loved until they get a home, then it’s rewarding to me. I’m happy I helped in a small way.”

Now, you can find Barbara walking dogs, helping at adoption events, leading fundraising teams and filling in wherever she is most needed. “Events are the biggest part of my volunteering. I can talk to the public informing them of what PAWS has to offer while raising funds to help save more lives.”

We are so lucky to have Barbara as a volunteer and hope to work with her for many more years to come!

Leigh Zerbe


Leigh began volunteering with the dogs and cats at PAWS in May 2013. “I had read about PAWS well before I retired. I knew that it would be the first place for me to put my energy. I have always had a dog and/or cat in my life. My very 1st dog was given to me on my 2nd birthday – a gift from my father’s fraternity brothers.”

For a few years she was a volunteer at multiple PAWS locations, but now is a regular volunteer at our Old City location twice a week. If Leigh is away and not in for her regular shift, it feels strange without her! She is such a huge part of our PAWS family and we love having her as a volunteer. “Our current canine family member is a rescue named Lily who let us know immediately that she loved people but did not get along well with other 4-legged creatures. Thus, I get my cat and kitten ‘fix’ spending time at PAWS.” We are so lucky to have Leigh and hope that she spends many more years with us!

Merle Jaffe


Merle began volunteering at the PAWS Old City Adoption Center in 2011 and after a short break joined the Cat Socialization Team at our Grays Ferry Wellness Clinic. “I have tried to keep my PAWS day ‘sacred’ – I look forward to it so much! I enjoy being a part of a like-minded community and I’m proud to contribute, even in a small way, to what PAWS has accomplished. ” Whether working at events, contributing to our various fundraisers or working in the cat room, Merle has contributed in a huge way to PAWS!

“When people ask me how many cats I have I always tell them 28, because each week I feel – for just a little while – that I want the best for all the cats in the shelter. So whether it is cuddling, cleaning or just a pet and and a dry blanket, I’m happy to be of service.” Merle’s compassion and dedication to the animals at PAWS is exceptional. We are so lucky to have had her as a part of the PAWS family for so many years and hope she continues to volunteer for many more to come!

Sarah Collett


Sarah became a volunteer with PAWS in 2012 where she started at our Old City Adoption Center. Soon after she started volunteering, she changed locations and joined the cat socialization program at our Grays Ferry Wellness Clinic. “Who doesn’t want to cuddle cats? I look forward to every Thursday afternoon with my fellow socializer Merle, which I call my happy time.” Sarah also became a foster mom when she took in a senior cat who was not doing well in the shelter. Sarah adopted her and they have been happily living together for almost four years!

When we asked Sarah what her favorite part of volunteering was, she said, “I love being part of this community and watching all the cats go to their forever homes.” Sarah is so compassionate and cares for the animals as if they were her own. We are so lucky to have her as a volunteer at PAWS!

Miriam Silberstein


Miriam began volunteering ​with PAWS ​​in July 2014​ at our Old City Adoption Center and has gone from cat care helper to volunteer extraordinaire​!​ ​ She started with a weekly cat care shift and now she leads volunteer orientations, fosters kittens (adopting one litter herself!) and supports the staff in performing adoptions.

“​My favorite thing about serving as an adoptions assistant is helping people find their cat soulmate. ​​ I once had a cat jump up on a woman’s shoulder, which I thought meant the meet wasn’t going so well, but she loved it and ended up adopting the cat! ​Everyone is looking for something a little different, so when you find that perfect match, it’s magical!​ It’s so great that PAWS takes the time to educate adopters on the importance of cat basics to set them up for success–it also lets me gush about cats to people, which is part of the fun!​”​

​When we asked Miriam about why she volunteers, she said, “I also love the staff and other volunteers at PAWS. It’s such a supportive group of people all committed to the same thing. I always come home in a good mood after a PAWS shift, even if it followed a bad day at work, because it’s such a special place.​”

Miriam brings such a positive attitude along with dedication to the PAWS team and we are so lucky to have her!

Lee Cullen


Lee began as a volunteer for PAWS at our Northeast Adoption Center in June 2014. He was part of one of the very first volunteer groups at that facility and has been with PAWS ever since! “I was looking for a place to do some good​ and​ saw the article in the NorthEast Times about PAWS opening another no-kill shelter and knew that was the place for me.​”​

Since beginning with PAWS in 2014, Lee has become such an integral part of our team. You can find Lee taking care of the animals, doing laundry and even training new volunteers to help them become comfortable when they are getting started. “It is very rewarding being involved with cats, kittens and dogs. I love helping the animals find the home of a lifetime. How could anyone not volunteer at a no-kill shelter like PAWS?”

We are so lucky to have Lee as a part of the PAWS team and hope to have him for many years to come!

Bidisha Mukherjee


Bidisha began as a volunteer for PAWS in December 2013 in both our Adoption Center in Old City and our Wellness Clinic in Southwest Philadelphia. “I LOVE volunteering with PAWS because of the sheer joy of spending time with the animals and being part of a noble cause. Not Disneyland, THIS is the HAPPIEST place on Earth for me!”

Since beginning in 2013, Bidisha has volunteered in every department at PAWS! She has volunteered at adoption events, photographed adoptable animals for the website, assisted with administrative work and was recently accepted as a Clinic Services intern. “This experience has taught me patience, tolerance and to be a genuine human being and I am always inspired by the passionate dedication of the staff and other volunteers.”

Bidisha is an asset to our team at PAWS and we are so lucky to have her!

Nydia Collazo


Nydia began her time with PAWS six years ago helping out at an offsite cat adoption location inside Petsmart. Since then, she has become an asset to our volunteer program. “It’s a joy spending time with the animals and thrilling to see them heading to their new homes.”

As a volunteer, Nydia took on the role as site leader for our off-site adoption center, volunteered at adoption events, cares for cats at our Northeast Adoption Center, and assists with administrative work such as processing applications. When asked what she likes most about volunteering, she said, “Overall, I just enjoy helping out wherever I can and working with such a fine group of people.”

We are very lucky to have Nydia and hopes she stays a member of the PAWS family for many more years!

Lori Tustin


Lori began as a PAWS volunteer in 2008 after learning about PAWS at an adoption event. She started as a volunteer at our Old City adoption Center and then transferred to our off-site Petsmart location. When asked what she loved most about volunteering, she said, “I loved the 4+ years there as I was involved with not only the cat care but also facilitating adoptions. Helping to make those connections was such an incredible feeling. Seeing a long-term resident finally find their forever home would always bring me to tears.”

For the past 3+ years, Lori has been a vital part of our event team going out into the community and talking to people about PAWS. “One of the greatest gifts that PAWS has given me is the opportunity to meet some of the most incredibly wonderful people. I am so blessed and grateful for the friendships I have made through my volunteering and look forward to many more years with this amazing organization.”

We feel the same way about Lori and hope that we have the chance to work with her for many more years!

Jen Lawson


Jen Lawson began volunteering in 2008 walking dogs in the shelter and helping out at adoption events throughout the city. Soon after, she took a weekly shift at the Petsmart in South Philadelphia where we house cats for adoption.

“We have a tight-knit group of amazing volunteers who are really dedicated, and many of them have been doing their shifts for several years. I feel lucky to call them my friends! We never lose sight of the fact that we’re there to make sure the cats are happy and healthy and that we find the best possible homes for them as quickly as we can.”

In 2009, Jen became the volunteer leader of the Petsmart location and still volunteers there today, while also helping to process applications, lead adoption events and manage the scheduling of the volunteers at Petsmart.

“I’m so grateful that PAWS exists and that I have the opportunity to do what I do. It adds more meaning and purpose to my life and I could never give it up. It’s like breathing.”

We are so happy that Jen feels that way and are so grateful to have her as part of our team. We are so lucky to have her!

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