Help SORCO change its volunteer policies to support volunteers sign now

My name is Dawn Dancing Otter. I live in Penticton BC.

In the past seven years, I have been a volunteer at the South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls, a Raptor Rescue and Rehab centre. SORCO is the only raptor rehab facility south of Kamloops, west of Alberta up to Delta BC. Last year alone, SORCO took in 150 injured and orphaned birds of prey. The organization has provided a vital service to the communities of the Okanagan, and wildlife.

My function as a volunteer has spanned the general support of the birds - cleaning cages, mopping floors, feeding, providing optimal environment for injured birds to heal, administering prescribed medicines, bandaging broken wings, sitting on the Board of Directors as Educational Director, going to schools, events, and scout camp on educational visits with our Great Horned Owl embassador, Houdini. I have been involved with the rescue and receiving of injured and orphaned birds, rehab and eventual release of many birds. I have been a loyal, determined, and passionate unpaid support to SORCO, and my sons and husband have participated alongside me, cleaning rat cages, sweeping floors, and working hard. I have donated my time, my vehicle, gas expenses, and my public support over these years and I have asked for nothing in return as I consider it an act of love. I endeavour to raise my sons to know that volunteering time builds a strong community. I want them to learn to include volunteer time throughout their lives.

Our Executive Manager recently stepped down. The Manager who replaced her has been a volunteer and a board director. We had always had a fairly tense aquaintance with each other, though i didn't feel it was anything serious, accepting that not everyone has to like me for us to do good work together.
Since this new manager has started, she immediately began to reduce my shifts. She claimed I was not available often enough, although this has never been an issue until now. I went from going in once a week to once every two months, with no discussion, no notice. When I questioned this decision, I was immediately dismissed from my duties by email, accused of being rude, uncooperative, and blunt, merely for questioning why my shifts had been cut.

I was not given warning, and I have no appeal. The Chair of the Board, the Manager's partner, denied me any recourse, and would not explain why I was being let go. He said it was important for the board to back the decisions of the Manager, however, in fact, the Manager is supervised and held accountable by the board, not the other way around. I am still completely confused by this decision and have no idea why she is not being held accountable for it, and why the board is complicit in this decision. 

I am heartbroken. My sons are heartbroken. I was planning to simply move on because I didnt want SORCO to have any negative attention. My friends, however, made me aware that if this could happen to me, being dismissed for no cause and no recourse after seven years of good work with the organization, t could happen to any volunteer at SORCO. And that is really unconsciounable. I decided for this reason, even though it is likely I will never be welcomed back to SORCO as a volunteer in any capacity, that I am speaking out. Not for myself, but for the betterment of a system that can only result in declining quality for the organization, and more importantly, for the vulnerable animals in SORCOs care.

Currently, there are no policies at SORCO to prevent this situation from recurring. As it is a non-profit, charitable organization, and save for 2 paid staff, it is entirely run by volunteers. Having no policies around the support of volunteers, including a structured process for conflict resolution means that volunteers are subject to removal without cause, notice, or appeal. If that is a value held by the current board, dependant on the many hours and care offered by volunteers, than that must be changed. 

Please sign this petition to send a message to SORCO to change its policies on Volunteer Management, to include compassionate treatment, support and encouragement for a job well done, training required for people in contact with raptors, and for conflict resolution. No one should ever be dismissed this way.

SORCO has been an amazing institution these past seven years I have served. I hope it improves, and I sincerely hope that future volunteers will receive better support than I have recently, and this story becomes one of positive change.




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Latest Signatures

  • 21 May 20154. YogiCoachSPK (unverified)
    I support Dawn Dancing Otter's tireless dedication
  • 21 May 20153. Tomas Weber
    The Board should be held accountable for these actions.
  • 21 May 20152. JoAnn Turner (unverified)
    I support this petition
  • 21 May 20151. DDO
    I support this petition

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