BY: Jennifer Horan – Regional Director
After three years of getting to know Shakoya, one of DREAM’s very first teen Mentors-in-Training (MiTs), we’ve picked up on a lot of her interests, which include reading, fashion, taste testing her sister Kyah’s culinary creations, scary movies, animals…and puns. Koya never met a pun she didn’t like. I’m not kitten you.
When I heard about Philly’s very first Cat Cafe opening up in Fairmount I knew this would be a purrfect place for Koya to do some volunteer work. A major component to our MiT curriculum is to teach our teens to become active citizens by engaging in community service. The DREAM staff have tried to pair up volunteer opportunities to match the interests of each teen. Our goal is to instill a sense of civic responsibility in each MiT so that they will continue to serve their communities.
Le Cat Cafe (www.lecatcafe.org) is a new adoption platform for Green Street Rescue, a Philadelphia based non-profit which rescues stray and homeless cats. Cat Cafe’s are popular in Japan and have recently begun cropping up in major cities across the US. These cafes are unique because they allow potential adopters to interact with the cats prior to making a decision to adopt and also helps once feral cats socialize with people. Lucky for us, they also love volunteers!
Koya, her sister’s Kyah and Ahkirah and myself filled out a volunteer application and found ourselves walking into the parisian-styled cafe. We were greeted by the Volunteer Coordinator and about 12 free range kitties curiously eyeing us up. The warm-up period was fairly brief once the kitties were purr-sueded to emerge with catnip and cat toys. Koya’s love of cats made her an easy target for some of the more playful and affectionate kitties and soon she was surrounded by several furry admirers.
The Cat Cafe also has a large collection of cat books which Koya took an interest to. Koya has expressed an interest in veterinology as a possible career choice. While she purr-used through the books I took on the role of purrista, getting drinks from their cafe selections which included, catpuccinos, hot chocat, meowcha lattes, and catspressos.
While all of us really enjoyed our volunteer experience at Le Cat Cafe, it was obvious that the biggest fan of the cafe was Koya. All kitten aside, we hope to return so that she can keep learning about animal care as she continues to explore this as a potential career interest. We had such a paw-some time at Le Cat Cafe and can’t wait to volunteer again!
For the record… – pun count: 11