Animal lover

Greenfield shares passion at local shelter, encourages volunteering

Oliver Gamez, Copy Editor

In the summer of 2019, English teacher Suzanne Greenfield began volunteering with the Humane Society of Macomb and wanted to show her students that even through a busy schedule, every single person can make time to do good for the community.
The Humane Society of Macomb is a private, non-profit organization that focuses on the rescuing, rehabilitation, and re-homing of animals in need. It offers various educational opportunities as well as ways to report lost pets, foster and training programs, and support in adopting or surrendering.
“I thought it was important to volunteer my time at HSOM because they are not funded by any governmental agency,” Greenfield said, “and the organization relies 100% on the generosity of the public and volunteers to keep the facility successful.”
A devoted teacher and animal advocate, Greenfield feels that giving back to HSOM is especially important because of her personal experience with their cause.
“All of my pets are rescues, and some came from horrible conditions,” Greenfield said. “I chose to volunteer with HSOM because I think it is important to advocate for animals that do not have the voice to speak for themselves.”
But before the humane society lets anyone start working with animals, volunteers are required to do laundry, stock, and be trained to handle and care for cats and dogs.
“If I am volunteering as a canine companion, I walk dogs around the outside of the facility, give them treats, and attention.” Greenfield said. “When I work with the cats, I help socialize them by petting them, giving treats, brushing, talking to them, and playing with them.”
The Humane Society of Macomb doesn’t only house dogs and cats, though; there are also recused residents living in the barns. There are horses, goats, pigs, and barn-cat Toby that are cared for daily.
“Toby has been leash-trained with a harness,” Greenfield said, “so I take him on walks, too!”
In programs such as ‘Adventure Dogs,’ volunteers can take the dogs out for a day trip to help them decompress, as couches and a quiet space are unavailable in the shelter, and they don’t have a loving family of their own to give them special attention.
“When I sign up for Adventure Dogs, I can take a dog in my car to a park like River Bends or Stony Creek, or I will travel to my mom’s house to have a snuggle session on the couch,” Greenfield said. “I can take dogs to my mom’s because she doesn’t have any pets and her yard is fenced in.”
Due to her notable experience volunteering with the organization, Greenfield interviewed for and accepted a position as Humane Education Coordinator in April of 2020. Since starting the position, Greenfield has developed new programs for elementary-level children to educate them on the importance of giving while also making the experience fun and enriching.
“I’m currently in the process of creating a reading program where children can come into the shelter to strengthen and practice their reading skills in a non-judgmental environment because they will read to dogs and cats,” Greenfield said. “I’m collecting books of different levels to build a library at the shelter.”
While focusing this year on helping animals and younger children, Greenfield began volunteering to showcase to her students that community service can be both fulfilling and productive.
“Although the senior service project volunteer hours have been suspended this year due to COVID-19, it is important to learn the value of giving back,” Greenfield said. “I wanted to exemplify that anyone can volunteer and truly enjoy the work.”
With each day bringing new experiences, Greenfield enjoys volunteering more and more and sharing these experiences with her students.
“I would update my students each time I volunteered,” Greenfield said, “and model example pictures and presentations to prepare them for their own senior project.”
As coordinator, Greenfield works to register new volunteers to help with the animals and her children’s programs, and believes that Utica High students are best for the part. And for those that want to volunteer, but not work directly with the animals, there are positions to help build the Adventure Dogs trail or garden.
Anyone 16 or older can volunteer without a parent present, but with parental permission. Those 13 or older can volunteer with a parent present.