Due to COVID-19, dog shelters need more help than ever before, as more people are looking to adopt and foster pets for companionship as quarantine progresses. One of these shelters is the Hood River Adopt A Dog shelter in Oregon. Kurt Heslop, lead technical consultant, started volunteering at the shelter in April 2018 to spend time with dogs, but it soon evolved to much more than that after joining the Board of Directors in December 2019. He wanted to use his experience in technology to help the shelter uniquely.
About the Hood River Adopt A Dog Shelter in Oregon
They are a shelter that strives to provide appropriate and humane services to both dogs and pet owners. They work with the community to limit pet homelessness and ensure positive interactions between dogs and their adoptive families.
“We are a no-kill shelter, we don’t screen for age, and while we do screen for aggression, we try our best to learn and understand a dog’s personality before rejecting them. We are determined to find every dog a home.” Kurt says.
The Hood River Adopt A Dog shelter also has an extensive facility with a large tent behind the main building with room for lots of play.
“We have volunteers regularly take their dogs out on walks or hikes, and we have an area in the back for them to run around and play,” Kurt adds.
Transforming the Shelter with Technology
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelter is only allowed to have one staff member in the building at all times, making it difficult to carry out their day-to-day activities, including fundraising, training, and assisting with volunteers. This is where Kurt’s expertise comes in. He says that volunteering on the Board of Directors for the shelter has enabled him to apply both the hard and soft skills that he has learned while working as a consultant for Perficient’s Adobe practice.
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Kurt is accustomed to working with platforms like Adobe Experience Cloud, and solutions within it, such as Adobe Experience Manager, which he describes as “WordPress on steroids.” That expertise translated quickly into his work on the shelter’s website, where he’s been able to streamline the site and move their operations online.
Kurt hasn’t been working on revamping the website by himself. Seeing an opportunity to share his knowledge and help build professional experience for others, he reached out to his alma mater, Penn State, to coordinate a summer internship for one of their students.
“The hard skills have helped me in assisting our intern in ways that really I didn’t think I’d be able to help before the project.” — Kurt Heslop, lead technical consultant
Accessing his Communication Skills
He found that his background as a consultant also helped him with the various conversations he had as a member of the shelter’s board. “We have to convince members of the community to support the shelter. The types of discussions and the ways you prepare for those discussions are very similar to those you have in consulting,” he said. He finds that as a consultant, he might need to discover the client’s business needs. Whereas on the board, he has to identify creative ways his community can help the shelter. “They are connected in ways I didn’t think they would be,” Kurt says.
How Perficient Colleagues are Supporting Each Other
Throughout his experience volunteering at the shelter, he has found that his Perficient colleagues have been very encouraging. “Everyone that I have spoken to about this at Perficient has been nothing but supportive,” Kurt says.
He is thankful that his colleagues are happy to help and talk to him with his passions that lie outside of work. “They have been happy to help with technical questions that I have had on the side about the website, and even a few leads on potential donor relationships. Some folks have even expressed interest in our puppies, and I think it is great to see that level of support from my co-workers in the company,” he adds.
A Tangible Takeaway
Since joining the Board of Directors at the shelter, Kurt has been able to adopt a dog from the shelter, giving him a forever home. He hopes to continue working for the shelter and appreciates all the support from those around him.
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