OMHS is excited again to recognize the work of our amazing volunteers through our Volunteer and Community Awards Program. Whether they are doing administrative tasks, working with the animals, or out engaging the community we would not be able to provide the same quality of care for the animals, or our community, without these heroes!
A big paws up goes out to the Community Engagement Committee who had the difficult job of selecting this year’s OMHS award recipients.
Two new awards were added this year to recognize both a youth (Youth Animal Crusader) and a business/corporation (Outstanding Corporation Award) that have significantly contributed to the quality of life for animals through fundraising and donations to the OMHS. Our Volunteer and Community Awards Program now has six categories in total, the other four are:
- Outstanding Volunteer Service Award
- Outstanding Youth Achievement Award
- Foster Family of the Year
- Lifetime Achievement Award
The awards were presented virtually during our recent Annual General Meeting. Congratulations to all our award recipients, the shelter would not be what it is today without your ongoing support and commitment.
Award: Youth Animal Crusader
Recipient: Aliyah Brito
The Youth Animal Crusader Award is presented to a Youth fundraiser who has made a significant contribution to improve the quality of life for animals, by demonstrating kindness towards animals, is a role model who inspires others, helps raise awareness about the OMHS and enables the shelter to further our mission by raising funds. Aliyah is a quiet 11-year-old that has a very special connection with animals and you can witness it any time she’s around them. What started out as a small passion project has grown into a wonderful little business in support of her favourite furry friends. Aliyah’s dream is to work with animals and it’s incredible to see how her small business has given her the opportunity to do just that and interact with many different animals.
Aliyah, along with her supportive family, bakes homemade, all-natural dog treats at home and sells them through her business Aliyah’s Pet Bites. She has even been featured on CTV! A portion of the money she raises is donated back to the OMHS and several other shelters and rescues in the area. Each package is prepared with lots of love and delivered personally by Aliyah and her driver (aka Mom or Dad), giving Aliyah an opportunity to meet all kinds of new animal friends and visit with long time furry friends, arguably her favourite part.
Aliyah visited the shelter most recently in April to drop off funds she had raised for her birthday. She brings a very special light and love to her work and the community she serves. Aliyah has raised over $1,000 in the last two years and continues to allocate funds to support the animals at the shelter. She cannot wait to get back to visiting with them when our doors open again.
Congratulations Aliyah on being selected as the recipient of the Youth Animal Crusader Award. Thank you for your passion for the animals, your dedication and commitment to animals is an inspiration to all of us.
Award: Outstanding Volunteer Service Award
Recipient: Vahid Hosseini
The Outstanding Volunteer Service Award is presented to a volunteer who has made a significant contribution to improving the quality of life for animals. Vahid joined the Oakville & Milton Humane Society as a volunteer in 2017, committing to a weekly shift working with the canines. Each week, whether the sun is shining, or the clouds have filled with rain, he shows up and gives his all to provide the best possible care to the dogs at the shelter.
Vahid primarily focuses his time teaching the dogs new skills, through positive reinforcement training, to set them up for success when they are adopted. He has worked diligently along the way, improving his skills as a trainer, to work with all levels of challenging dogs, including those with difficult to manage behaviours and medically compromised pups. The contribution of Vahid’s time, skills, patience, and compassion means that each dog will receive individualized care, opportunities for socialization, enrichment, exercise, play and mental stimulation. The care provided by Vahid, and other volunteers like him, is instrumental to the wellbeing of these animals.
However, Vahid didn’t stop there! Every time an opportunity presented itself to better the quality of life for the dogs, Vahid donated his time. In 2019, Vahid rallied a group of like-minded friends to participate in the Mission Pawsible fundraiser, thereby locking themselves in a dog kennel until they had raised enough funds to get “adopted.” It was a long day, but Vahid and his team remained positive and focused on their goal of collecting donations and spreading awareness about animals in need.
Vahid is also known for coming up with inventive ways of improving the shelter. He has single-handedly taken on the task of creating (from scratch) and implementing a tool to track volunteer hours to help the Community Outreach & Education Department run more efficiently.
Vahid is recognized as a trusted member of the OMHS volunteer team, and a role model to members of the animal-welfare community. He has helped countless dogs to find their forever homes and has even opened the doors to his own home to adopt and to provide foster support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Congratulations Vahid on being selected as our Outstanding Volunteer of 2021. Your drive, dedication, and consistent ability to take initiative are only a few of the qualities that make you so deserving of this special recognition.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for both the animals and humans at the Oakville & Milton Humane Society!
Award: Outstanding Youth Volunteer Achievement Award
Recipient: Jayden Collins
The Outstanding Youth Volunteer Achievement Award is presented to a youth volunteer who has made a significant contribution to improving the quality of life for animals, and this year’s recipient, Jayden Collins has done that and so much more.
Jayden’s involvement with the Oakville & Milton Humane Society began in 2019 when he signed up as a volunteer in the Youth Apprenticeship Program. Through his participation in this program, Jayden learned how to read animal body language cues and how to safely interact with shelter animals. He spent the majority of his time at the shelter socializing cats, dogs, birds, reptiles and a variety of other small animals. Jayden was gentle when handling pets and observed them carefully to ensure they were feeling comfortable throughout their interactions. It was evident to Jayden’s instructors how much he genuinely cared for the wellbeing of each and every animal.
In an effort to do more, Jayden signed up to support the Customer Care Department with administrative tasks, he represented the OMHS in the Santa Claus Parade, and has attended community events to connect with other youth and share information about upcoming shelter programs.
Given this young man’s reputation as patient, caring, kind and mature, he was an obvious choice when looking for assistants to support the OMHS Kindness Club for kids and PA Day programs. Jayden was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity! Not only was he extremely supportive to staff members in this new role, he was also a fantastic role model to the younger students. Jayden’s supervisor recalls the day when Jayden went above and beyond in his efforts to work with a young girl who was afraid of snakes. He carefully guided her, step by step, providing encouragement along the way, until she overcame her fear.
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the world and how we all go about our lives. The pandemic also limited the ways volunteers have traditionally connected with the shelter. To help maintain that connection Jayden joined the Animal Enrichment Committee, as one of the few youth members, to create toys for animals at the shelter, thus improving their quality of life while they await adoption. He also signed up to support the OMHS Food Bank Initiative, packaging pet food to be sent to community food banks throughout Oakville and Milton to keep pets and their families together through difficult times. Jayden even contacted us to offer his services when a request for lawn maintenance volunteers was sent out.
Jayden, we are so proud of your accomplishments and inspired by your dedication. Congratulations on being selected as our Outstanding Youth Volunteer of 2021. As a staff member once said, “having Jayden in the world helps make our world a better place” and we couldn’t agree more.
Award: Foster Family of the Year
Recipient: Lynn Zoppas
The Foster Family of the Year Award is presented to an individual or family that has demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in fostering animals. This year’s recipient, Lynn Zoppas, has fostered more than 110 cats and kittens and has been a devoted volunteer with the Oakville & Milton Humane Society for over 12 years.
Lynn has been an invaluable member of the OMHS foster team and a trusted partner to the shelter. Her extensive experience with felines makes her an ideal caregiver for the most vulnerable creatures. She specializes in providing care for medically challenged kittens and has given a second chance to so many. From upper respiratory infections to GI troubles, and even some behavioural challenges, Lynn has seen and experienced it all and continues to forge ahead with a positive outlook.
Lynn has been especially helpful throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, taking on as many foster placements as possible. She has provided and continues to provide a safe and nurturing environment for cats. In addition to having the knowledge and ability to care for sick felines, Lynn also focuses a great deal on helping under socialized and fearful cats. When a terrified kitten managed to climb into the ceiling, Lynn spent several days climbing up to feed him until he trusted her enough to come back down again. Now that’s dedication, persistence, and patience!
In addition to her life-saving gift of foster support, Lynn also volunteers multiple times a week at the OMHS’s Barkin’ Bin thrift store as a Team Lead. There Lynn helps to manage and train a group of thrift store volunteers that work together to organize, price and sell donated goods to raise funds that support the animals at the shelter. She also makes a weekly trip to the shelter to drop off deposits and collect any needed personal protective equipment. Lynn consistently demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities and treats everyone she encounters with respect and kindness and has played a significant role in the shop’s ever-increasing success.
Congratulations Lynn on being selected as the Foster Family of the Year. Your contributions have had a monumental impact on the staff, the community and the animals. We are so grateful that you have opened your home and your heart to help animals in need.
Award: Lifetime Achievement
Recipient: Anne Smith
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a volunteer who has gone above and beyond in demonstrating compassion for animals and has also demonstrated exceptional service and leadership qualities. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Anne Smith, has been an instrumental member of the volunteer team, and for over 30 years has selflessly given her time, talents and expertise to better the lives of animals and secure a bright future for the Oakville & Milton Humane Society and the communities it serves.
Anne was a contributor and editor for the Retriever Newsletter, utilizing her writing skills to reach out to the community to share stories of success and bring more awareness to the shelter and animal welfare as a whole. She also supported the donation box initiative by driving to various businesses in the Oakville/Milton community to distribute and eventually collect full donation boxes.
Anne provided a safe and warm home, as a foster parent in past years. She has adopted several of her feline fur family from the shelter.
In addition, she also served as a member of the Board of Directors, where she and her fellow board members worked together to provide the strategic direction, resources and light-level oversight for the OMHS to be successful in achieving its vision and mission.
Anne has worked tirelessly to develop and maintain strong networks and relationships within and beyond the shelter. She coordinated three quilt shows, raising over $18,000 to provide medical care and supplies to treat sick animals. Anne was also involved in the fundraising efforts needed to update the cat socializing rooms and install the sprinkler system.
She is proud to be a Charlie Fund Ambassador and the Chair of the Charlie Fund. The Charlie Fund provides emergency and specialized veterinary care for animals at the Oakville & Milton Humane Society. The Charlie Fund saves animals hit by cars, caught in traps, or needing life-changing treatments and surgeries. This special “emergency fund” has grown from saving a few animals a year to more than 100 animals a year!
While these achievements are truly impressive, it’s Anne’s giving nature and kind heart that makes an equally big impact. Anne has dedicated her entire life to advocating on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Anne, you make the shelter’s heart beat!
Award: Outstanding Corporation
Recipient: Lexus of Oakville
The Outstanding Corporation Award is presented to a corporation or small business who consistently demonstrates dedication to animal welfare through equitable partnership, financial support and raising awareness for the OMHS. Our first-ever Outstanding Corporation Award recipient is Lexus of Oakville, which has been a supporting the OMHS since 2002!
Frank Apa, President of Lexus of Oakville, adopted Patch, a Shih Tzu puppy. Patch was a sweet endearing little dog and when he began coming to work, he quickly became the company, mascot, and spokes-dog. As a canine ambassador, he exemplified all the reasons why having animals in our lives has a positive impact. When Patch passed away, Frank wanted to do something special to honour his long-time canine companion.
Over the month of September that year, a donation was made from each car sale and the dealership raised $13,300! The money was generously donated to the OMHS in Patch’s memory. This donation enabled the shelter to create the P.A.T.C.H. Challenge – a program which highlights the human-animal bond. Patch, the little dog’s name, has come to stand for People and Animals Together Create Harmony.
Since then, Mr. Apa has continued to dedicate the month of August to honour Patch and in turn, support the P.A.T.C.H. program at OMHS. Since inception, Lexus of Oakville has donated more than $233,000 to OMHS! Through the generosity of Frank Apa and Lexus of Oakville, OMHS can challenge young people in our community to be kind to people and animals. We challenge teachers to bring OMHS into their classrooms. We will continue to recognize children in our community who demonstrate kindness to all living things. The P.A.T.C.H. Challenge is made possible through the ongoing support of Mr. Apa and Lexus of Oakville who have continuously demonstrated their commitment to the health and well-being of animals and the importance of the human-animal bond with their support of the PATCH Program.
Mr. Apa and Lexus has also been a previous sponsor of Catsino a special fundraising evening for the OMHS and has also donated a Lexus van which we use today for our PATCH program.
Congratulations Lexus of Oakville and Mr. Apa on being selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Corporation Award. Thank you for your dedication to the shelter, and your commitment to ensuring that the young people in our community understand the important role that animals play in our lives.