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Life on the Road Improving Animal Shelters

By Chris Coulter, Rescue Rebuild Program Manager

Since officially starting with Rescue Rebuild, I haven’t had to travel all that much – yet. It just so happened that I joined in-between builds which works out quite nicely allowing me to prepare for life on the road. As I type this blog, my two coworkers are in Florida scouting out future build sites while I’m sitting at my dining room table, sipping coffee and awaiting the sun to rise. I say they’re scouting out future build sites, but it’s quite possible that they’re really at the beach working on their tan. Of course, I’m joking about the beach, but I’m sure it has crossed their minds….

Bryn and Zach pose under the World’s Largest Pistachio while traveling to the next build.

Currently, we have four builds quickly approaching back to back. This is going to take us on the road, away from our family, friends, pets and loved ones for about two months. We are hoping to make it home before Thanksgiving, but it’s undetermined if that’s going to be a possibility this year. Being away for so long takes a lot of preparation. We have to be prepared for all four shelters before we even arrive at the first one.

All plans and blueprints have to be drawn out with precision. There are permits to pull; material lists have to be made up and purchased, ready to be delivered immediately upon our arrival. Hotel rooms for us and the volunteers have to be reserved. Then, you have to make arrangements for your pets. I’m very fortunate to have understanding parents who live about 90 miles away that will watch their “grandbabies” as mom calls them whenever I’m on the road.

My early days volunteering with Rescue Rebuild involved a lot of traveling. I used earned vacation time from my then employer to travel to whichever build they were currently working on. I even had a sidekick on most of my builds—my mom. She is just as passionate about animals as I am, and she will always jump at the opportunity to travel with me. Not to mention, she is a very hard worker!

We were able to spend a lot of quality time while driving to the next build. Our furthest being Grafton, West Virginia, which took about 18 hours. Since I only had limited vacation time to use, I would drive straight through not stopping to rest for the night. Having mom at my side was great to keep me awake while on the long trek. Just like any trip, it always felt like it took twice as long getting home as it did getting there.

Volunteers sleep on their way home from the build in South Carolina while holding their newly adopted babies.

Then, Rescue Rebuild teamed up with MARS on their See What Good Food Can Do campaign a couple of years ago. There was a total of six people, composed of employees and volunteers, who traveled to all of the lower 48 states for small weekend builds. Due to my hectic work schedule, I was only able to lead four builds; Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. This meant leaving Friday straight from the office and driving to whichever state was scheduled. The return trip was always a lot tougher though. It usually involved me leaving the shelter about 10 or 11 PM on Sunday and getting home about 4 AM just to be back at work early on Monday morning. Coffee was indeed my friend on those mornings.

The long hours spent on the road and away from your loved ones can be exhausting. However, once you put into perspective why you’re on the road, and the impact on the animals lives that you’re helping you will find that it’s well worth it. And that’s what can give you that extra boost when your “gas tank” is low.

YOU can help. Keep Rescue Rebuild on the road and saving shelter pets by clicking HERE.

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