"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, e-mail the Best Friends LA Volunteer Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gema Z. - Honored Novemeber 2017
Gema tell us...
What BFLA programs/events/volunteer roles do you find yourself participating in?
Dog walking, hiking, playing, petting, cuddling, poop picker-upper, ANYTHING DOG!
Why do you choose to volunteer with Best Friends LA?
Volunteering with Best Friends is the most rewarding opportunity. Knowing that I can be part of the change and contribute to saving the lives of inherently good souls is everything to me. For this reason (and many more) NKLA is like my “spiritual center”. I have a bad day, I go to NKLA. I have a good day, I go to NKLA. I have any kind of day, I GO TO NKLA! There is no comparable feeling to kissing a pooch good night, or whispering to one of them “your forever is coming soon baby boy”, or the feeling you get when the dog you take on a walk goes #1 AND #2. Anyone else with me on this one? I volunteer with Best Friends because it gives me purpose.
How long have you been a BFLA/NKLA volunteer?
I think it’s been 1 year, 7 months, and 18 days!
What do you do when you're not volunteering (career/extracurricular activities)?
I am an Account Director for a marketing and research company by day, and a dog walker, professional dog cuddler, puparazzi by night. I also love to eat. When I’m not at NKLA, I’m out trying a new restaurant or eating some of my husband’s delicious food (I do the cleaning). I also enjoy live music, and comedy shows.
Do you have a favorite story to share about an experience volunteering with Best Friends LA?
MY SON. BENTLEY. He rescued me almost two years ago. I met him shortly after I started volunteering and we were/are inseparable. We had “lunch” together almost every day, we cuddled during Kennel Cozy nights, and he was and still is my "Zen Pooch". One day, I got notice that he was transferred to Mission Hills. I immediately went into “crazy dog lady” mode and did everything I could to be with him. That’s when I knew I couldn’t be apart from him anymore. I signed up as a foster, and today I am proud to say that I am part of this distinguished group of foster-failures! Bentley is the happiest, wiggliest boy. He makes me a better human.
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them!
My husband and I have 3 furry children Luna (Boston Terrier), Bentley (Wiggliest Poochie Boy Pit) and Potato (Grey Pittie). They are my everything. Luna is the boss. She’s also the smallest! Potato is a 75 lbs. "sweet potato". She is shy and not very comfortable with her environment, but she is all heart and soul when she gets to know you. Then comes Bentley, he balances everything and everyone out. He’s perfect. I also have all the babies at NKLA!
What others are saying about Gema:
Gema is a one in a million volunteer! She is not only one of our most awesome dog handlers (a truly excellent dog handler), her dedication, passion and commitment to our dogs is second to none! Gema is also one of our nicest / friendliest volunteers who is always thinking about the team! The fact that we get to work with people like Gema is just amazing. Gema - thank you for all that you do for our dogs and for our team! We absolutely love you and are eternally grateful for your work here! - Katie (NKLA Lead Pet Caregiver) & Justin (NKLA Volunteer Coordinator)