Hiromi Nobata is truly a volunteer-of-all-trades. Her invaluable work with Best Friends has included everything from event ambassador to adoption counselor, however, no matter the role, she always gives 110 percent. Recently she spoke with us about one her most fufilling volunteer positions to date: bottle baby kitten fostering.
Q. Tell us a bit about your work as a bottle baby foster volunteer.
Since I had experience with bottle babies (kittens so young they need to be fed formula from a bottle), I let Best Friends staff know that I would be willing to foster them if the opportunity ever arose. It’s not the easiest job - feedings every 2-3 hours, lots of cleaning up - but watching a tiny 8 oz week old kitten grow and become ready for adoption is one of the most joyful experiences in my volunteering life. I’m currently fostering little Wilbur and he’s getting bigger every day. If you ever have the time and opportunity to foster a bottle baby, I highly recommend it! You not only help the kitten make it through a precarious time but also help the Best Friends staff members who would otherwise have to take on the work.
Q. What is your favorite part of volunteering?
I love spending time with people who share my love of animals like the staff at Best Friends and my fellow volunteers. There’s nothing like the feeling I get when I help a formerly homeless pet find his/her forever family.
Q. Why did you start working with Best Friends?
I was out at Zion National Park to run a Half Marathon a few years ago and the friend who ran it with me invited me along on a tour of the Sanctuary in Kanab that she had booked. I got to see first hand all the great work Best Friends did so when I got home, I looked them up and I was happy to see that Best Friends had a presence in the NYC area. I signed up immediately to help with Strut Your Mutt and have been volunteering ever since.
Q. Do you have any pets of your own at home?
We have 3 cats at home - all bottle babies raised by us. They each have very different personalities and are very attached to us in different ways. I don’t know if it’s always true but I feel like our cats are particularly attached to us because we bottle fed them - no aloof cats in our house.
Q. What do you do for fun outside of volunteering?
I like to run. I run daily and although I don’t race very much anymore, I try to run a few “goal” races to keep my running focused. It’s a good way to stay healthy and enjoy the outdoors. Maybe once the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center is finally open, I can merge my love of running with my passion for finding forever homes for dogs by helping to set up a “running buddy” program so dogs that would otherwise be in a kennel all day waiting to be adopted can occasionally get out and run like a dog.
Q. Outside of cats and dogs, what is your favorite animal and why?
I like birds. Even though we are in the middle of a very busy city, I have seen hawks up close and personal in Central Park. I haven’t seen the mating pair I used to keep track of since their nest fell down during a storm last year but I keep my eye out for them and others during my morning runs. I have also had a family of raccoons cross my path during an early morning run - wildlife is alive and well in New York City!
Q. What is your favorite holiday?
I like the holiday season - from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. New York City is at it’s most beautiful and festive and it glows with warmth and good cheer. I know the city is often seen as a cold and harsh place but the holiday season makes it a little friendlier.
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for other volunteers?
Try new positions, take the opportunity to learn new skills. With the upcoming opening of the Pet Adoption Center, there will be so many new positions that need to filled - take the chance to stretch and find out if you can be of help in a way you might not have considered before. You know the staff will always be grateful for whatever you are able to do to help and the animals will always show their gratitude with kisses and head butts.