Volunteer Profile: Amanda Decker
by Lee Chambers
Amanda Decker arrived late in the day to Dakin’s Black Friday adoption event in November of 2017. “I was kinda sad,” she recalls, “because most of the cats had been adopted by then. Someone steered me to Porter, a black cat who is FIV+, but I had two males already and wanted a female pet. Porter was in a colony room, way up on a top shelf. I stood up to see him and he licked my face. I turned around and looked at my boyfriend and we both knew he was the one.”
Porter’s adoption was Amanda’s first experience with Dakin and inspired her to become a volunteer. “I saw how everyone at Dakin had helped Porter, and I wanted to help other cats in the same way. He was my ‘leg in,’ I guess,” she laughs.
September marks Amanda’s first year as a Dakin volunteer and it’s been a busy one. She is part of the Feline Weight Watchers crew, as well as the Jackson Galaxy Cat Pawsitive Pro (CPP) program. She assists with cat care on the adoption floor and in Nick’s Nursery.
“Working in Nick’s Nursery is most rewarding,” she says. “We see the kittens go from being so sick to being on the adoption floor. It gets me in the best way possible. I also like the CPP work because of the challenging cats, the ones that won’t come out to see you. I love working with them to get them in better shape to be adopted.”
Dakin volunteers share a deep love for animals, and Amanda is no exception. “They’re just so pure and good,” she says. “I have social anxiety with people sometimes, but animals transcend everything. I just connect with them in ways that I don’t connect with human beings. Cats especially.”
Not having had a childhood pet, Amanda’s first pet was her boyfriend James’s cat Cletus. “He was such a ferocious little thing with a feisty reputation, but the minute I met him, he crawled into my lap. We joke that that was the moment he became tame.”
The past year as a volunteer has been an uplifting experience for Amanda. “I’ve never felt better about anything I’ve done in my life,” she states. “The feeling I get from it is indescribable. Everything in my life has been better since I started volunteering here.”
An Easthampton native and lifelong resident of the Pioneer Valley, Amanda shares her home with James, Cletus, Porter and another cat, Glitch. She is learning how to play acoustic guitar and enjoys making vegan and vegetarian dishes. In a couple of years she hopes to pursue the vet tech program at Holyoke Community College.
Nearly two years after coming to Dakin and meeting Porter, she says he is happily settled, is “a big ham,” and still licks her face every day. “It’s the best $5 I ever spent in my life,” she smiles.