Meet Brandilee and Malcolm! In addition to being amazing volunteers at the New York Pet Adoption Center, they recently decided to sponsor the adoption fee for our longer term resident, Ms. Queen Lillian. Check out their Q & A to learn more about about their work with Best Friends and what inspires them to give back.
Why did you decide to volunteer at the Best Friends New York Pet Adoption Center? What motivates you to continue to help Best Friends?
In the fall of 2016 we took a trip to Utah and volunteered at the Best Friends Sanctuary in Kanab. We spent our time volunteering in DogTown, taking dogs on outings, and spending overnights with a very special dog named Vader (who is still there and we still send him Christmas gifts! Someone please adopt him!). When we got back to New York we were searching for animal shelters to volunteer at, and low and behold we were thrilled to learn Best Friends was opening an adoption center in our home city of New York! We continue to help Best Friends because we truly believe every animal deserves a chance to find a loving home, and we believe in the great lifesaving work being done to save them all.
What inspires you most in the work you do as a volunteer?
The most inspiring and rewarding part of volunteering is the time spent with the dogs, and the happiness it brings them (and us!).
What would you tell others who are thinking of becoming a volunteer at Best Friends?
Do it! It’s an amazing chance to not only help the wonderful people who are working to find these animals homes, but it’s a chance to spend time with some truly great dogs and cats.
Since becoming a Best Friends volunteer, what have you learned? Do you see things differently now? And if so, how?
We’ve learned a lot about handling dogs, best practices for training, how different personalities are displayed in different dogs, and just a better general understanding about being with different dogs.
In terms of your volunteer work for Best Friends, what are you most proud of? Why?
We are always most proud, and happy (and a little sad) when we come back to the pet adoption center after a few days away and a good boy or girl is gone and has found their forever home (Brandilee was on an emotional roller coaster when Erin was adopted!). We always like to think that our time spent with them made their time at the shelter a little better.
Malcolm with adoptable dog Queen Lillian, who they are sponsoring.
What does volunteering mean to you? Why do you do it?
Volunteering is absolutely vital to us. It gives us a chance to advocate for causes that we are passionate about. It is something that we love doing together too, it is rewarding to pour our mutual love into projects that can make a difference.
Tell us about your favorite volunteer moment.
It’s hard to pinpoint one specific favorite moment, as there are so many. Just having the chance to spend time with the dogs in their kennels and give them belly rubs (Queen Lillian’s favorite!) or spending time with them in the enrichment area and giving them a chance to run around is extremely rewarding. One moment that does stand out was with Betty Boop on a walk. Betty was very shy and always was hesitant to go outside, but on this day, she was ready to take on the world! She had some serious pep in her step and we went for a brisk walk around the block, with her flashing that trademark smile the whole way. It was fun to see her personality shine through… we felt like proud parents!
Tell us something we don’t know (about yourself or just an interesting fact)!
We love to travel. Last year we eloped on a 2-week adventure to Botswana, Germany, and the Czech Republic. Last month we went on a dog sledding trip in the Arctic Circle and in June we are heading to Zimbabwe. We also love backpacking and visit a different National Park each year. You can follow our travels on Instagram @MarriedWithJetLag
What are you doing when you’re not volunteering with animals?
We both work in sports television production. Brandilee is a producer for SportsNet New York while Malcolm is a highlight supervisor for CBS Sports Network.
Besides volunteering for Best Friends, how else do "give back" to your community?
Brandilee is a certified yoga teacher and a junior board member for the Endometriosis Foundation of American where she teaches “Endo Warrior One” classes to benefit the foundation. She also runs a community women’s group that focuses on social issues and empowerment. Malcolm runs half marathons to benefit and raise money for women’s health issues. He is also heading to Africa this summer to volunteer with Wildlife ACT on an African Wild Dog project. We both are passionate about the organization Wild Tomorrow Fund and volunteer to help preserve wild animals and land in South Africa.
Do you have pets? Tell us about them!
We have a large five-year-old cat named Clemson who loves watching birds out the window and demands chin scratches. He rules the house. We rescued Clemson from a shelter over 4 years ago (when he was MUCH smaller). We are both “dog people” but are not allowed to have a dog in our apartment and were craving a furry friend. His back story broke our hearts, and to top it off he was set to be euthanized because he caught a kitty cold at a city shelter. Needless to say, he is our forever fur-monster now.