Monthly Volunteer Profile: Grace Antoniuk
A group of volunteers founded the Winnipeg Humane Society in 1894 and are vital to our success today! With the help of volunteers, we can provide care, love and attention to our four (and sometimes two) legged friends until they find their forever homes. The MVP (Monthly Volunteer Profile) will recognize the work and get to know these special MVP’s in a spotlight each month that includes an article and photo shoot. MVPs will receive a framed photo and gift card as our thanks!
MVP: Grace Antoniuk
Story by Brian Kozak. Photo by Jim Harvey.
If Grace Antoniuk is any example, the future of volunteering at the Winnipeg Humane Society is in good hands.
A 15-year-old student going into Grade 11 this fall, Grace has helped out with youth camps as a Counselor in Training for the past four years. As a Counselor in Training, she helps organize crafts and games designed to entertain and educate groups of six to ten day campers.
She has already enjoyed an amazingly long relationship with Winnipeg Humane Society day camps.
“I was a day camper for about six years before I became a Counselor in Training,” she says. “Since I was going to day camp a lot, the counselors decided to promote me to a Counselor in Training, and next year I can apply to become a counselor.”
A love of animals is what got Grace involved with the WHS in the first place. Dogs are her favourite animal. Grace and her mom are especially enamored with pugs and bulldogs, with their flat noses.
“I like the animals here a lot,” she says. “It draws me into volunteering here. When I was younger, I had thought of becoming a veterinarian.”
She can also (indirectly) credit the WHS day camp for her first pet, a little pug whose shelter name was Sweetpea.
“I saw him come in one day, and I was excited to see him because usually the dogs at the shelter are bigger breeds like Shepherds, which I’m okay with, but there are few smaller dogs,” she says. “That day at camp I got to walk him, and I talked to my mom and said, ‘He’s so sweet.’ Later that day we all saw the dog, and we put a hold on him and adopted him the next day.”
While on duty, she enjoys spending time among the campers, the animals, and the staff and volunteers. “People here are all really nice. It’s a great place to be. I have a great connection with the counselors, especially head counselor Amy Moyer, who was just starting as a counselor when I began coming to day camps.”
Grace volunteers at the shelter from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, usually for two or three weeks. When September comes, it’s time to concentrate on school. She says she looks forward to the day she turns old enough to work with the animals at the shelter.
“When I become 16, I think I’ll come here and walk the dogs.”