Volunteer Spotlight: Ryan Cheys
I first heard about SALI through my good friend Dustin. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity, and had some experience working on a small hobby farm through a past relationship, and I really missed the interaction with the animals. Dustin told me about his aunt (Keryn) that was running this organization that rescued animals and helped at-risk school children. He showed me the website for SALI and I was immediately interested. I sent Keryn a message that day asking if I could come down for a visit and check out the volunteer program at the farm. It all happened quite quickly, and within a few days, I was signed up to be a regular volunteer. I wanted to make better use of my free time as well as doing something active and helpful in the community. SALI’s mission statement has always stuck with me …“to honour, respect and protect the animal human bond” as well as “for people to improve the lives of animals, and for the animals to improve the lives of people”. This remains to be a big part of why I spend every Saturday afternoon at SALI’s farm. I think these animals have really improved my life, and I would like to think that I have improved theirs. I will be forever thankful to the people at SALI for giving me this great opportunity to contribute, in my own way.
I mainly do animal care at the farm, which consists of feeding, grooming, and keeping the animal quarters comfy and cozy. Since I am a bit of a “neat-freak”, I often will clean out the fridge and tidy up around the barn as best I can. I do the tuck-in for all the animals on Saturday and take pride in leaving the place a little tidier than when I arrived. I usually bring apples and carrots for the horses, some greens for the bunnies, and my left-over Cobs Cape-Seed bread for the goats …they love it!!
I’ve also participated in a few work-days at the farm where I helped out with winterizing the barn (tarping the roof) and also cleaning up the fields in the spring by spreading the manure piles to nourish the soil. I’ve been at the farm to celebrate the lives of Ellie and Jamaica, and to rest their bodies in peace in SALI’s garden, as well as volunteering for a wedding on the farm, where I would bring the guests around to visit with the animals. I was at the farm for the exciting arrival of Secret, and was glued to the cow-cam for weeks before the birth of Clover. I have also worked the SALI booth at the Pet Lovers Show in Abbotsford, and brought along an old friend of mine (Lori) from my high school in Manitoba. She was my grad date in 1989.
During the week I work full time as a Residential Mortgage Underwriter for RBC. I try to keep in shape by walking the Granville Street bridge everyday to work and also get in a few sessions at the gym each week. Every Saturday afternoon, I drive out from the West End in Vancouver to fill my tuck-in duties at SALI’s farm. I quite enjoy the drive out to the “country” (South Surrey), and cherish every opportunity I can to get out of the city (I guess I am a country-boy at heart) – The spring and summer months tend to be quite a busy time for me, as work becomes quite hectic, and also the start of softball season. I belong to the West End Softball Association (WESA), and I coach a softball team throughout the spring months and well into July. When I am not at the farm or at softball, you can usually find me with my friends, either dining in or out, or taking part in some sort of event. In the fall and winter months, I also play in a dodgeball league on Tuesday nights. When I am not doing any of the above, I do love to get away and travel. I have been to many parts of the world, including working on cruise ships for 3 years in the early 90’s. I am originally from Winnipeg, and most of my family lives in Western Canada. I have one brother and three sisters and whenever they come to visit me on the coast, I will ensure we get a visit in at SALI’s farm. I suppose its in my prairie roots.
I do recall one morning, as I was getting ready for work, and while I had the cow-cam on in the background on my computer, I notice a big lump on the ground and think WOW …that must be the new baby!! It was still pretty dark and hard to see, but I noticed whatever it was, wasn’t moving too much so I was getting a little worried. I could see that Gracie and Peanut were standing over it and nudging it, so in a bit of a panic, I decided to call Christine and let her know that I think the baby (soon to be Clover) had arrived. I couldn’t wait around any longer to see what happened when Chris came in and turned the barn lights on, as I was already late for work, but I learned later that day that what I had seen was an overturned bucket (not a baby) …ha ha …jokes on me! And here I was at work all morning worried about what might have happened to the poor baby calf.
What I hope for SALI in the future is that the organization can find a permanent home, that is hopefully not too much further away from where it currently resides. It would be great to have a few more acres and little further from the bustle of a busy street. With a bigger property, perhaps the farm could take on more animals that are neglected or need a forever home, and also expand the school program to help more children at risk, or anyone that needs the healing powers of the animals.
On a personal note, I will continue to work with all the awesome people that make up the SALI family and who dedicate their time and energy to this worthy cause, and hope to one day participate in the school program and have the opportunity to enrich and improve the lives of others, as well as the animals.