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Animal-lover achieves her dream

Cool resident volunteered with organization before becoming manager
By: Bridget Jones, Journal staff writer
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Lena Korn toyed with the idea of working with animals since she was 3 years old. “I was born onto a farm and we moved here and we have as much of a farm as we can in Cool,” Korn said. Korn, 24, who was born in Santa Rosa and moved to Cool with her family when she was 3, graduated from Golden Sierra High School in Garden Valley. It was through the regional occupation program with the school that she volunteered with the Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation. The foundation, which started in 1997, is an effort of more than 20 volunteers who work to care for and adopt out cats from the Isabelle Torsak Memorial Pet Adoption Center on Masters Court. Dogs and some cats are also kept in local foster homes. The shelter currently houses about 80 cats. The foundation helps about 500-600 animals find loving homes each year, said Cassie Reeves, secretary and treasurer for the foundation. Korn volunteered with the foundation for two years while attending high school and Sierra College before leaving to pursue two bachelor’s degrees at Humboldt State University. She first discovered the foundation when she accompanied a friend to a dog obedience class at the shelter. “I came with her, and it was just rows and rows of cats waiting at the door for you, and I thought ‘I just have to be a part of this,’” Korn said. She couldn’t help but keep in touch with her fellow volunteers after she left for school, Korn said. “That was definitely one of the things I missed most, being here,” she said. “It was like a family, and I missed them so badly.” In May, Korn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a bachelor’s degree in marine biology. Instead of returning to the shelter as a volunteer, Korn was hired as the part-time shelter manager, the only paid position the foundation has. Reeves said Korn’s graduation came at an excellent time. “Timing was perfect for us,” Reeves said. “We were growing … and we just knew it was time to have a paid person.” Korn started the new position June 7. Lucille McKevitt, president of the foundation, said Korn is a great addition to the team, just as she was when she was a volunteer. “I can’t say enough good things about her,” McKevitt said. “She is not one to waste time. She is right on the ball.” Reeves said Korn has already had a huge impact in her time as shelter manager. “I felt like this load just went off my shoulders,” Reeves said. Korn said she hopes to streamline all the work that goes into the shelter. “Mostly we are organizing and standardizing to make it easier for new volunteers to catch on quicker,” she said. “I hope to have paperwork move more smoothly.” Korn said she also wants to make sure that all shelter volunteers are communicating efficiently to let others know when cats are showing signs of getting sick or other problems. “By standardizing things hopefully we’ll be able to keep an eye on the animals more easily,” she said. “I think it’s easier for everyone to work together when we are all operating under the same goals.” Korn said the most important thing she wants people to know about the shelter is how dedicated its volunteers are, including caring for the youngest cats. “People don’t realize how much effort goes into raising a bottle baby and taking a cat who is sick and nursing it back to health,” she said. “We do all that.” Besides spending as much time at the shelter as she can, Korn said she also enjoys walking her dog, reading, writing, going to the river, crocheting and spending time with her family and friends. An amazing part of the job is watching cats sometimes choose their new owners rather than new owners choosing cats. “The best things, of course, are seeing the looks on people’s faces when a cat finds them,” Korn said. “That happened like a week ago. Sometimes it just clicks.” Korn said another fulfilling experience is finding a cat a “forever home” after raising it from a bottle baby. “I think that is the best part right there, when they get a home forever and they are happy,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Auburn Area Animal Rescue Foundation What: A group of volunteers and foster families helping to adopt dogs and cats Where: AAARF shelter, 11940 Masters Court, Auburn Hours: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday-Sunday Call: (530) 887-5577 (voicemail line) Website: petfinder.com/shelters/aaarf.html E-mail: aaarf@usamedia.tv