In 1988, I was living in New Jersey. I commuted to New York to work with thousands of other people each day. There were men on the train who had been commuting for 20 years. I hoped and prayed that there was more to life than this. A mutual friend told me about a wildlife park in Oregon where I could volunteer and live there with other young people. I spoke with David and without hesitating, he told me to come on out.
At Noah's Ark we were encouraged to take responsibility. Having the lives of 200 animals in your hands is a great responsibility but also a great gift. Working at the wildlife park never felt like work. Sometimes we were just surviving, a lot of the time we were having fun, but all of the time we were growing. David and Dianne gave us guidance and direction and then stepped back and let us figure things out for ourselves. I didn't know anything about animals when I arrived, but after a couple of years, I felt like an expert. I learned life-long lessons about work, business, and love at Noah's Ark.
I worked alongside David and Dianne for 14 years. In that time, I saw them take dozens of young and not so young people under their wings. They offered everyone encouragement but were not shy about pointing out problems as they came up. I think everyone who comes into contact with the Lindermans leaves with something - hope, confidence, love - whether they know it when they were with them or finally realize it years later.
I came to volunteer for Dianne and David Linderman when I was just 17 years old and stayed for seven years. At the time I had no idea what great life experiences and tools I would later use, at 31, as a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters.
I learned the importance of patience and self worth with Kids & Critters. The animals, believe it or not, all have different personalities. You'd have sweet and loving ones always by your side, troublemakers waiting to cause havoc when you turned your back, and those with whom you'd always have to have words. With the animals, I always learned new ways to solve situations and get chores accomplished. I learned creative ways to overcome challenges they put forth, and in turn was given a different outlook on life. At the end of the day, I could say, "job well done," with the satisfaction of having accomplished something that you and others could enjoy.
Whether it is for one day or seven years that you work with
these wonderful animals and staff, you will benefit from caring for the
animals while helping children of all ages experience the joy and kindness
animals can offer. I have great belief in and support of Kids & Critters.
The positive impact they have had on my life assures me that anyone who
puts faith and support into a Kids & Critters endeavor will not be disappointed.
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