Volunteer Spotlight: Cheryl Jacobson
There are volunteers and there are volunteers... and then, there is Cheryl Jacobson.
A year ago August, a few months after Cheryl, an accountant by trade, had taken early retirement, there were many options for her to fill her days. Fortunately, her daughter was a volunteer at BARCS at the time, so she decided to check it out, and she started walking dogs.
Several days a week, Cheryl makes the close to 40-mile commute from Olney to BARCS, where she spends the entire day with dogs. Big ones, small ones, shy ones, rambunctious ones—she loves them all.
“It is good for the soul,” Cheryl says. “To give of yourself to those who need it. What could be better?”
Cheryl has two dogs at home, a pointer and a coonhound beagle, whom she walks before spending the day at BARCS. Her husband, who is still working, walks them later in the day.
While she enjoyed her time at the old shelter, Cheryl says she cannot begin to explain how much she appreciates the new facility.
“It’s so clean!” she marvels. “The kennels, the whole facility is so bright and new.”
She also loves the trails where she and her husband helped lay wood chips. “The dogs love the trails,” she says. They love all the smells of the trees and the flowers, and they love to roll in the wood chips!”
Recently, she had an experience with members of the public that brought tears to her eyes. “I was walking an 86-pound German Shepherd,” she says. “I was near the front of a building when a car pulled up.” It turns out she was walking the dog that this couple had lost. “It was obvious they had been up all night, and there was their dog!”
Other happy memories include seeing a dog who was shy and withdrawn blossom and get adopted.
“The new facility could not be more perfect for the animals,” she says. New features include a play yard for sick dogs, and a barn that has recently been put together.
Cheryl admits she hated the hiatus volunteers needed to take because of COVID, and she could not be happier BARCS figured out a way to have volunteers come back.
To former volunteers she has a message: “BARCS needs you,” she says. No matter what your interest, there is an opportunity here at BARCS.” She knows some people have had a hard time returning because of the hours, but Cheryl encourages those folks to reach out to the volunteer manager. “Arrangements can be made,” she says, “or maybe there is something else you could do that would better fit your schedule.”
For example, she and her son volunteered at the vaccine clinic and they had such a good time they are sure to do it again.
“I don’t expect people to put in the kind of hours here I do,” Cheryl says, “but you would be surprised that you will get back so much more than you give.”