Rosalynn Lily's Therapy Dog Photos
Merry Christmas from our pack to yours

PAWS and serve your community

Do you know our Grouchy Puppy motto? It is "Give Fearlessly. Influence Positively." Recently, I had the great pleasure of positively influencing a wonderful nonprofit here in San Francisco, PAWS.

Last month, the folks at GREENIES asked me to suggest my favorite local animal charity that could benefit from an in-kind donation. They were reaching out to a few pet bloggers with this kind offer, and Grouchy Puppy was on that list. The offer was for any kind of items, from office supplies to toys. You'll never guess what PAWS needed the most.

Having supported Muttville actively, as well as the San Francisco SPCAPAWS was another local group that meant a lot to me. Pets are wonderful support (PAWS) is a San Francisco nonprofit that has been giving fearlessly to people and their pets for more than two decades. They are a volunteer-based organization that provides for the comprehensive needs of companion animals for low-income persons with disabling HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses, as well as senior citizens. They also educate the larger community on the benefits of the human-animal bond, and advocate for the rights of disabled individuals to keep service animals. I wrote about them in July for the Blog the Change Campaign, regarding their unique and valuable Extern Programs. 

[PAWS paper inventory system. Photo credit: Brett Chisholm]

PAWS and all the volunteers do so much year round, but during the holidays, their pet food bank and Holiday Stocking Delivery can mean a whole lot more to the low-income community they serve. This is their reach: in 2010 the PAWS Food Bank distributed more than 55,000 cans of wet pet food, more than 29,000 pounds of dry pet food and more than 18,000 pounds of cat litter!!! This work was done by more than 500 volunteers who gave more than 14,000 hours of their time in 2010. Now that is giving fearlessly!

When I reached out to Cheryl Shiflett, Marketing and Events Manager for PAWS about their needs, she asked if GREENIES would consider getting them an electronic inventory scanner for their Food Bank. They were managing to run it using an old paper inventory system, but an inventory scanner would help them more effectively distribute and track the food in their animal food bank. We all did a happy dance when GREENIES agreed to buy the inventory scanner.[...]

After the scanner arrived, I visited the new PAWS offices in the Mission district. Kevin Kosik, the new President and CEO, along with Cheryl, gave me a tour and showed me their food bank. I couldn't believe how much inventory the volunteers had to keep track of - the shelves reached the ceiling! It was really gratifying to meet the volunteers and staff that were there, and see how happy this tiny scanner made them. Soon after, I got this nice note from PAWS, sharing why the food bank is such an importance service:

The food bank is one of PAWS's original services. Today, 24 years later, it can still mean the difference between someone being able to keep their loving companion in their life and having to give them up. Take it from the words of a PAWS client who said that “The food bank has helped me through rough times.” Every Saturday, the food bank is bustling with volunteers, clients, and their companion animals. It creates a community for some who are often isolated and have been visiting the food bank for years. 

Behind the scenes are rows of animal food and supplies with clipboards containing sheets of paper on every food shelf in the PAWS food bank. Each sheet is meant to track what is distributed to clients on a weekly basis. At the end of the month the Food Bank manager reviews and manually adds up the details from every sheet to compile a distribution report. Food bank volunteers are responsible for filling in these sheets with details about food given to every client who visits the food bank.

The food bank provides food to an average of 80 clients every Saturday (including deliveries for homebound clients). On busy days or with finicky critters it's easy to forget what you gave to a client or three or four, "was it 12 cans of Friskies? No wait, the cat won't eat Friskies so I gave them 18 cans of Meow Mix. Or was it a dog who only wanted kibble?"

It's even easier to forget to document the information all together because customer service is the first priority and getting to the next client in line can easily take attention away from writing down details of the last order filled. This may seem like a minor oversight but every can of food and pound of kibble adds up to equal the thousands of cans and pounds we distribute each year. 


[PAWS Crew left to right: Liz Dunlap, Joelle Lasa, Kenny Cyrus, Lukas Prassinos, Joanne Kipnis, Daniel Marlay, Tara Whitefield, Victoria Long, Prado Gomez (with the tiny scanner around his neck!), Kevin Kosik, Sharon C.(that's me!), Cheryl Shiflett.  

Adorable Office Dogs left to right: Shirley, Buckey, Maddy and Lion. Photo credit: Brett Chisholm]

As food bank distribution has grown over the last several years it has become increasingly important to know how much food and litter we do give out so that we can let our supporters know how much we need. Accuracy is key and with various sheets and multiple volunteers it's difficult to maintain that accuracy, no matter how diligent PAWS volunteers may be. We have learned the hard way that losing or accidentally recycling those precious sheets can mean the difference of hundreds of pounds (and dollars worth) of inventory unaccounted for. 

Thanks to Sharon and Greenies the PAWS Food Bank has arrived in the 21st century! (Woohoo!) Our inventory will now be at our fingertips, literally, with a remote key sized scanner. This scanner will allow us to scan items as they come in and go out and upload this information into a database that will give us an exact, real time inventory as well as a distribution report. Now, PAWS food bank volunteers can focus on interacting with clients' rather than worrying about whether or not they wrote down how many cans and of which type they put in their bag. Thank you for this momentous gift!

Awww, we're so thrilled and thank GREENIES for their generosity as well. It is hard to believe something the size of a Toyota Prius key will make such a difference, but it will. PAWS is a great cause. I'm grateful to have helped them. Thank you GREENIES again!

Check out PAWS on Facebook, consider volunteering with them, if you're cleaning your closet why not donate your items to Community Thrift with the proceeds going to PAWS, charity #55?

PAWS is 100% privately funded. Your donations and gifts from bequests, go far and help many. Consider a recurring monthly gift, become a PAWS Constant Companion.

Learn more about their upcoming major spring fundraiser Petchitecture 2012

Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!