It’s National Volunteer Week and the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) is shining a spotlight on two of its local volunteers.
Ed Melenka is in operations as a Commander for the Central Okanagan ALERT team.
“His background in business has kept him level-headed and calm during a storm,” says Deborah McBride, director of operations at ALERT.
Melenka has worked on ‘level 1’ incidents such as house fires and in larger events like Penticton’s Christie Mountain fire in the summer of 2020. He represents ALERT at the ESS Central Okanagan while he enjoys his retirement.
In West Kelowna, volunteer Natasha Lohse works in ALERT’s operations and only received her training in March.
Lohse was already deployed to an incident Sunday morning in West Kelowna, where 150 people and their pets were evacuated from an apartment building.
“I have always loved volunteering and being able to help animals, so for me it was great getting to help out. It was a great environment to be in; where you get to bring a bit of light to a dark situation,” Lohse says about her first deployment early Sunday morning.
She and her partner at Exclusive Ninja Girl Subscription Boxes, Jana Fraser, have recently taken on a unique fundraiser on behalf of ALERT.
The Lucky Duck Prize Draw allows members of the public to purchase rubber duckies which have numbers underneath them that match the winning number in frequent draws. All the proceeds go to ALERT to help them in a year when all fundraisers have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ALERT is still seeking new members and is continuing training in small classes throughout the pandemic. As well, ALERT is seeking foster homes for cats, dogs, horses and other livestock. If this is something that interests you, email to inquire.
For National Volunteer Week, ALERT says it will be sharing volunteer stories on its Facebook page every night.