Blakely Austin, 14, of Brunswick, Maine, an eighth-grader at Brunswick Junior High School, has performed a wide variety of volunteer roles – totaling over 1,200 hours – for a local animal shelter over the past six years, including fostering more than 75 sick and abandoned cats in her home. “For as long as I can remember, I have loved animals,” said Blakely. At 8 years old, she found a way to live her passion in a big way – at the Coastal Humane Society Animal Shelter in Brunswick.
Over the years, Blakely has worked at the shelter’s pet adoption events at local stores, attended community events to promote the shelter, raised more than $500 for shelter expenses, served as a counselor at the shelter’s summer camp, and dressed up as a dog mascot for birthday parties at the shelter. Her favorite activity and greatest inspiration is fostering cats with medical needs in a special room in her family’s house. She’s worked with veterinarian technicians to learn how to administer medication, spent her own money to buy heating pads and cozy “cat condos,” launched a website to showcase her animals, and negotiated adoptions as a certified adoption ambassador. “Even though an animal is very sick, frightened and has no home, I can help it get well, gain trust and find a wonderful forever home,” said Blakely.