A person holding an orange cat in their arms.

Connection and community come in many forms, sometimes even feline ones. For St. Louis Arc resident Angie, having some connection to animals in her life was essential. Angies long-time love for cats inspired her to speak with her support staff about her desire to volunteer. She hoped to work with a local animal shelter to fill her time when not participating in Day Programs. Using self-advocacy skills and with guidance from her direct support team, Angie independently shared her skills, availability, and desired volunteer hours with several shelters she spoke with on the phone. She was thrilled to secure a volunteer position with the Animal Protective Association (APA)!

Though new and different to Angie initially, she loves volunteering with the APA and has learned so much there. For five months, Angie has been building relationships with other volunteers and employees at the APA, gaining new skills, and enjoying many hours with her favorite kitties. Her support staff shared that Angie especially loves it when guests come into the shelter to adopt a new pet. Angie takes immense pride in showing guests the animals that are available, sharing what she knows about them, and helping them choose the pet they pair with best. She often joyfully announces new adoptions to her support staff upon pick-up after her shift. In this way, Angie is building new connections within her community with each happy adoption!

The staff members at the APA have shared that they greatly appreciate Angies hard work, and they can tell how much she loves being there. Her support staff emphasized the positive impacts of the friendships Angie has made at the APA and the social skills she has strengthened through interacting with guests at the shelter. Angies time with the APA and the belonging she feels there demonstrates how different kinds of connections can be life-giving. It is a vital part of our human experience.