Because my house is the clinic site, I am usually not there. This year, though, TCSPCA director Susan Blehr wanted me to see it first-hand, and volunteer Kim Armstrong gave me shelter so that I could stay for at least a part of it.
Even when I wasn’t there, I knew of the good that the spay/neuter clinic did, seeing for myself the diminishing presence of packs of wild dogs. What was more important and encouraging, to me, was seeing inroads on volunteering and a sense of community.
When I first began visiting the Turks and Caicos, I noticed that little value was given to volunteerism. In a place where just keeping oneself and one’s family fed and thriving was difficult, this was understandable. There was, in fact, even a suspicion of the volunteer taking away what might be paid jobs.
These attitudes have been changing as the island grows more prosperous and people go beyond family loyalties to recognize that the “us” of North Caicos is more inclusive. There are now fundraisers for the schools, beach cleanups and park maintenance projects. Some churches are beginning to reach out to help the elderly and poor instead of just preaching at them. And individuals are taking on work for the common good, with people like Lovey Forbes, who creates and maintains community areas on his own, leading the way.
The annual spay/neuter clinic is a part of this. What I saw in my brief time with it is cooperation with the program that reduces wild dog and cat populations; donations beyond payment for individual pet care; and the inclusive presence of children, who see and absorb the ethos of “helping out.”
And what help there is! The volunteers work hard, providing not only their time but also use of their own vehicles (and gas for them!), food for the vet team (who are volunteers themselves), even airfare to be there to help.
For this year’s clinic, I salute not only Susan Blehr, vet Liz Harris and vet tech Kim Wharton and the volunteers I don’t know on Provo, but also these local volunteers and donors, in alphabetical order: Kim Armstrong, Howie Bartels, Patti DesLauriers, Regine Forbes, Merrica and Kamron Handfield, Sheila Parsons, Ernie Quant and Brenda Wilcke. Hats off also to Addison Forbes, who preps the house and garage, then does the laundry afterwards, and my neighbors who tolerate the extra traffic and noise.
I also salute the volunteers-to-be, who are seeing the “us” of North Caicos.