Monday, October 6, 2014

Bringing The MAC Home: an interview with Lynda

As you may know, Berkeley Humane has recently expanded it's adoption capacity by means of a mobile adoption center (MAC, for short). The MAC is a truck which is outfitted to allow Berkeley Humane's animals and adoption counselors to go to adoption events throughout the Bay Area in both style and comfort. The MAC has been built by LaBoit Specialty Vehicles - a dedicated company in Ohio, which specializes in creating large vehicles for purposes such as ours. The adorable pictures all over the truck? Courtesy of talented photographer Mark Rogers.


A mock up of what the MAC would look like

We're so excited about the MAC and the possibilities it'll bring, and want to share with you how we came into the possession of this shelter on wheels that'll help Berkeley Humane go beyond our walls and connect our animals with more members of the community. With that in mind, we contacted Lynda, one of Berkeley Humane's dedicated volunteers, and one of the two people who embarked on the journey to get the MAC from Columbus, Ohio to Berkeley, California. 

Here is a bit about Lynda herself: 
"At the beginning of the year I moved to the Bay Area from NYC and was looking for a passion project to get involved with. My dear friend and Development Director for Berkeley Humane, Jeffrey Zerwekh invited me to join the recently established Marketing Leadership Committee and twisted my arm to volunteer pouring beer at the Pints for Paws Event."

Of course we wanted to know how she got involved with the MAC: 
[Berkeley Humane's] "Board approved funding for the Mobile Adoption Center right around the time I started volunteering on the Marketing Committee and I was asked if I’d be interested in becoming involved in writing the business plan. A few students from USF needed to do some field work and helped put it all together. They got the credits they needed to finish a class and Berkeley Humane got a comprehensive business plan to put the necessary framework around the MAC project. By that time I was so in love with the MAC and its purpose and potential to significantly increase the adoptions of the puppies and kitties, provide a new role for volunteers in the organization, and increase our visibility in the community, that before I knew it I had volunteered to Bring The MAC Home! Since the MAC will be largely (with the goal being 100%) run by volunteers, it seemed only right that a volunteer be the one to drive it off the lot from where it was assembled in Columbus, OH."

How did the trip go? Did you plan a lot beforehand, or did you have any serendipitous experiences? Did you make any stops along the way?
"The trip was amazing.  Completely.Exceeded.Expectations.  Having never driven across country before and certainly never having driven a 26’ vehicle I was a bit apprehensive about both.  From the time we were welcomed with hugs and smiles from the dedicated staff at the assembly plant to pick up the MAC to the time we rolled into the Bay Area, a better journey couldn’t have been planned.

Prior to the trip some planning was done – the big things like deciding whether to take the Northern Route or the Southern Route and booking the first two hotel nights. Everything else was left to plan spontaneously on the road as we really weren’t sure how far we would go each day and where we would end up.   I really got into the idea of driving along Route 66 so we took the Southern Route on HWY 40.  It was fun to photograph the MAC by various landmarks like the Arch in St. Louis, the World’s Largest Golf Tee somewhere in the middle of MO, the Cadillac Graveyard in TX and with the Grand Canyon.  If it were up to me I would have stopped more but we were on a schedule so I had to pick the priorities!

What the Southern Route looks like
One of the most rewarding things about driving the MAC across the country were the countless people we met and stories we heard.  When you’re driving a 26’ vehicle covered with adorable puppies and kitties everyone wants to talk with you and tell you about the pet they’ve rescued and their love of animals.  There is so much love out there for animals and so much enthusiasm for what the Berkeley Humane will be able to do with the vehicle in terms of increasing adoptions and saving lives of animals.

And here it is! The MAC in all it's glory

Can you say a bit more about the goals Berkeley Humane has for the MAC? Will you play a role in the future of the MAC as well?
"The primary goal of the MAC is to enable to Berkeley Humane to increase adoptions of the puppies and the kitties. The goal for this year is to adopt out 1000 animals. As long as there is a committed volunteer base (click here to learn about being a MAC volunteer) and the MAC can be scheduled to be in the community as often as possible we will be able to exceed this goal next year.

It’s also important that the team at Berkeley Humane plans for the future so that once enough money has been raised to build a new building to replace the one that was damaged in a fire there will be a way to adopt animals.  During construction, the MAC will be our “Adoption Center on Wheels.”   We know it is going to take some time to get as good at mobile adoptions like we are in our current facility.

As far as my role in the future of the MAC, it will always have a special place in my heart.  I am so proud of what’s been accomplished to date.  Now, it’s time to pass the baton to the tremendous volunteers who will be taking it out in the community and putting it to action finding those adorable puppies and kitties who are looking for love the best families to go home with."

The MAC: Human Tested...


... Doggie Approved!

Do you have a fun or interesting anecdote (or two) about the trip that you would like to share?
"Road trips are fun!  And while the purpose of this road trip was the business of bringing the MAC home, the fascinating people I met, stories I heard and the overwhelming enthusiasm for what Berkeley Humane is embarking on with the MAC left me inspired and with a great sense of gratitude."

Fulfilling it's purpose at Bark (&Meow) Around the Block

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