"Our Best Friends" is a weekly installment to honor just a few of our outstanding Best Friends LA volunteers. This is your chance to get to know some of the shining stars in the Best Friends LA volunteer program! Volunteers are either nominated by Best Friends LA staff or other volunteers in our program. If you would like to volunteer, email the Best Friends LA Volunteer Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Gerrard - Honored August 2019
What BFLA programs/events/volunteer roles do you find yourself participating in?
- The Cat Team and Kitty City at NKLA
- NKLA Super Adoption
- Strut Your Mutt
- Best Friends National Conference
- West LA Shelter event
Why do you choose to volunteer with Best Friends LA?
When I first learned about Best Friends, sometime in the late 1980s or 1990s, I was drawn to their compassion, their ideas for saving abandoned, often abused, animals, and to their integrity as an organization. I became a member right away, and when they opened the Mission Hills shelter—and later, NKLA—I was ecstatic. I attended a Strut Your Mutt (Santa Monica) and an NKLA Super Adoption (La Brea Tar Pits) and saw the thoughtfulness that went into these events and the sensitivity shown both to animals and to people. It was a few years before I was able to volunteer, but Best Friends was always my first choice.
How long have you been a BFLA/NKLA volunteer?
Since June of 2016
What do you do when you're not volunteering (career/extracurricular activities)?
I'm an academic. I work at UCLA in their Writing Programs. I take a lot of ballet classes. I like to crochet little blankets for the cat condos.
Do you have a favorite story to share about an experience volunteering with Best Friends LA?
On my third day as a volunteer at NKLA, I opened Piper's condo in Hollywood Hills, and in the blink of an eye, she launched herself to the top of the condo complex. That was impressive, given that there was no ledge; she just popped out of her condo and went straight up. She found a box to hide in up there, and no amount of bribery (treats, wand toy) or sweet talk would get her down. In spite of my failure as a black paw, the staff and grey paws were sympathetic and helpful; they tried various enticing strategies: a comfy bed for Piper to climb into that could then be lowered to the floor; the blanket/burrito capture; fancier treats; a more elastic wand toy. They climbed up a short ladder, then a tall one. Piper started to hiss. The staff went back to what they were doing before, I went home, and Piper was in a box near the ceiling.
She stayed there for hours. I don't know who got her down or how they did it (and if you know, please tell me!), but eventually she was restored to her condo. An hour later, she was adopted!
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
This is the first time in decades I've lived without animals. My three precious cats -- Fanny, Lilly, and Violet – died within months of one another of cancer (Fanny at age 12, Lilly at 18) and kidney disease (Violet, at age 20). They brought me more joy than I could ever describe.
The photo shows Lilly on a catwalk that my partner Mike built for my girls.
What others are saying about Lisa:
Lisa is the best! She is truly an invaluable member of our volunteer family, one of the absolute nicest people you will ever meet & an incredible center and event volunteer! Speaking of her time at the center, Lisa is an amazing cat handler not only with our adult population but with our kittens. We feel so grateful to get to work with people like Lisa! Her energy, her kindness and her support of not only our cats but our entire volunteer program is simply inspiring. Thank you, Lisa, for all that you do - we appreciate you so much! Congrats on this well-deserved recognition! -NKLA Staff