Jesse M. - October 2019 Volunteer of the Month

Jesse M holding a rabbit

Whether loving on bunnies, inspecting for safety hazards, washing food bowls, or managing laundry logistics, Jesse M. is an appreciated volunteer for all seasons at MCAS.

Learn more about the Volunteer of the Month Program

Congratulations to Jesse M., nominated and chosen as the October 2019 Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) Volunteer of the Month.

A Gentle Kinship with Rabbits

Quietly opening the cage door, Jesse took his time and moved slowly to introduce himself to Bab, the thirteen-pound black and white rabbit he handpicked for his volunteer of the month photo. He picked up the rabbit and lightly stroked his back, smiling contently as Bab melted into his arms. After taking a few moments to socialize a little longer, Jesse placed Bab back into his cage. As Jesse peered in to say goodbye, Bab stood up and met him nose to nose. Clearly, Jesse was in his element, and Bab could tell.

At home, rabbits are members of the family and a big part of Jesse’s life. Maisey, a two-pound Lionhead rabbit, is Jesse’s favorite snuggle-bunny. The indoor rabbit hutch is right by Jesse’s man-cave and the exercise equipment, which means they hang out where all the action is. Jesse is often found taking naps with the rabbits when they’re out of their hutch.

Overcoming Barriers and a Desire to Help

Ironically, Jesse’s childhood doctor cautioned Carolyn, his mother, about potential pitfalls of having animals in the home after Jesse’s autism diagnosis. But Carolyn had rescued multiple Cairn Terriers and observed how great Jesse was with them. They were calming for him, and were calmed in-turn by Jesse’s gentle energy.

At two-years-old, Jesse lost all of his language and was nonverbal, but eventually got all of it back. “Jesse has always had a good attitude about facing and overcoming the barriers that he’s had to deal with in life,” Carolyn says. “He has pushed through, and could have been an angry person, but has always had a good attitude. You hope that when a child grows up, it doesn’t matter if they’re a CEO, but if they’re a good person, it’s really important.

Jesse is the kind of person who just wants to help. He will step in to be supportive, or help troubleshoot a problem, and expect nothing in return. All who know Jesse appreciate him and his efforts for helping out.

Because of her experiences with Jesse on his journey of self-discovery to develop his passions and gifts, Carolyn has become an advocate for individuals with disabilities. She built a career as a transitional specialist to help young people with disabilities prepare for jobs, access social services, and develop functional, self-sufficient life skills.

Jesse and Carolyn thank Melinda H., the MCAS Volunteer Coordinator, for championing Jesse’s involvement and volunteer service at MCAS.

An Eye For Safety

Jesse cares a lot about environmental safety. It’s very important to him that equipment is safe, and more importantly- that the animals are safe and not at risk. In his role as a laundry volunteer, he’s vigilant about inspecting machinery for potential fire hazards, and making sure lint traps are emptied regularly.

Around the shelter, Jesse searches for any wasps nests that should be removed, or other safety concerns to address.

Jesse is also an expert on fire alarms thanks to a paid internship at Oregon Health and Science University as a fire alarm inspector. He has a collection of fire alarms he’s procured from various sources, many of them given to him by other fire alarm aficionados he’s encountered on the internet. He’s installed some of them in a custom fire alarm panel system at home, complete with smoke and heat detectors. Jesse is technically inclined, and is fascinated by how fire alarms have changed and evolved over the years.

Laundry Logistics

Laundry support is one of the most important volunteer roles at MCAS, and at any animal shelter. Hundreds of animals rely on them for clean, warm bedding, changed regularly. Animal care staff need clean towels and wash cloths for daily cleaning of every kennel. Veterinary and surgery staff rely on them for linens in sterile surgery packs for spays, neuters, and other procedures. Without our laundry volunteers like Jesse, shelter operations would be in serious trouble.

Jesse is a go-to expert on efficient laundry logistics and equipment trouble-shooting. He knows how to get the most out of each laundry load in multiple machines at a time. If there’s something wrong, Jesse has a knack for finding out what it is.

Jesse even has several professional contract jobs with a local pet groomer and barber shop to manage their laundry needs. While Jesse has frequent offers to take on more accounts, he wants to keep time open so he can volunteer and just be in the community and help out. 

A Sense of Community

While Jesse often has trouble remembering the names of staff and volunteers at the shelter, he cares a lot about the people he interacts with, is invested in the people that he helps, and loves to see people that he knows. Jesse has lived in Troutdale for 30 years, and he’s reached the point that he knows a lot of people, and they know him. That community spirit is something he’s inherited.

What Volunteers and Staff Say About Jesse

“Jesse does laundry on Sundays. He also always visits with the bunnies and sometimes some of the kitties while he makes his rounds. He is always pleasant and friendly and does a great job!” says Jenni H., our May 2019 Volunteer of the Month. “I volunteer on Sundays in a variety of capacities and have had interactions with Jesse in many different ways while he is doing his duties. This past Sunday, I brought in a load of laundry from the Kitten Trailer and he told me exactly which washer to put it in and was happy to have it so it would complete his load. He definitely has a handle on what is going on in that laundry room!

“We really appreciate Jesse’s enthusiasm for his volunteer work and the animals.” says Jamie B., an Animal Care staff member. “I love the excited look on his face every time he sees a rabbit, or watches a train pass by the shelter. I wish I could enjoy life to the extent that Jesse enjoys his experiences.”

Thank you, Jesse, for your ongoing service and dedication to the animals and people at Multnomah County Animal Services.


October 2019 Nominees

Thank you to our stellar volunteers nominated for the October 2019 Volunteer of the Month!

  • Kendall A.
  • Quimby L.
  • Ann R.