GRANDVIEW, Mo. — As people in the Kansas City metro work to adapt to a new normal, many organizations are shutting their doors as a way to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
But nonprofit organizations like Wayside Waifs, which rely on their 1,400 to 1,500 volunteer base to survive, have employees stepping up to make sure the animals are cared for.
“Really coming together as a team is what Wayside has always been about,” said Robin Rowland, the shelter’s Vice President of Donor Relations and Communications.
After making the decision to close its doors to the public beginning on Tuesday, Wayside Waifs is now filling its 1,400-plus volunteer gap with its roughly 75 employees.
“We are figuring out who can cross train so maybe someone in that clinic is now helping K9 care techs,” Rowland said. “Someone who normally is an adoption counselor working one-on-one with adoptable families, they now go into canine care.”
Rowland said that employees might not be doing "exactly what is on their job descriptions."
“It’s that, 'other duties as assigned,' that will definitely be coming into play this next week or two,” Rowland said.
Wayside Waifs’ education programs in any given week serve around 400 students at schools across the metro – schools that might not be back in session for a couple weeks. Ashley Stanley, human education manager for Wayside Waifs, said that the organization is trying to "get creative" with how it presents information online.
"We are going to be creating different videos about our dog safety program," Stanley said. "We are going to be engaging students. We know there [are] a lot of students who are stuck at home right now, a lot of parents saying, 'Oh what do we do now?'"
Children will be able to do everything from write animal biographies to create decorations to go on kennels.
While staff at the shelter work on various projects to keep the animals engaged, students can do them at home, too, in order to keep themselves and their pets busy at a time when social distancing is key.
“We want to really help the students in our community continue to be engaged with us and feel like they are doing something to help animals here, even if they can’t be here in person,” Stanley said.
The weekly reading program, "Once Upon a Time: Reading for Pets and People" is usually held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - noon, where students can come in with their families and read to adoptable animals. The program will still in a way , as some of those 75 staff members will read to the animals. Those readings will be available online through Wayside Waifs' social media accounts.