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Get to Know Phinney’s Board Members: a Chat with Mara Voukydis

January 20, 2017

Mara Voukydis is one busy lady. She’s a lawyer, a mother and a Phinney’s Board Member. We recently chatted with Mara about why she volunteers with Phinney’s, and what she loves about it. mara3224

Introduce yourself to our readers!

Well, I’ll start by saying that while I love all animals, I am a crazy cat lady through and through. I have two rescue kitties, Vinnie and Hazel, rescued by the amazing organization Kitty Angels. My husband and baby and I are equally obsessed with them. They spent many years on the streets of Roxbury, and my family provided them with their first home. Getting to experience their transformation from terrified kitties to lap cats has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And they are celebrities on the Kitty Angels Facebook page, by the way!

Kitties aside, I work as public interest lawyer. I am also passionate about (though not very good at!) community vegetable gardening and flower gardening.

How long have you been volunteering with Phinney’s?

I started volunteering with Phinney’s in 2012. I found out about Phinney’s because I used to work as a caseworker at an organization where I had a handful of clients that relied upon Phinney’s Friends, and really appreciated its services. I remember one of my sweetest clients tearing up as he talked to me about the volunteer that came to help him walk his dogs. I was really impressed with and touched by the mission. What a cool idea, helping people and animals!

What is your position with Phinney’s?

I’m a Board Member and the Co-chair of the Administration Committee. I help establish and review policies and procedures to help Phinney’s be as strong as it can be. I also initiated and coordinate the Aids Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) part of Phinney’s Pet Boost Program. The idea behind that program was to revisit and reinvigorate Phinney’s founding mission to help people with HIV/AIDS and their animals. We collaborate with AAC client services unit to provide low-income clients with a supplementary source — a “boost”, if you will — of pet supplies.

For over a year I also walked an adorable and sweet beagle for a Phinney’s client. That was so fun!

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Phinney’s?

I would have to say that for an all-volunteer organization, I am completely floored by the passion, professionalism, and integrity of our volunteers. This is embodied by Daniela, our President, and Judy, our VP, as well as all our volunteers. On the Board, we are very honest with each other. We have hard but productive conversations. I really love being on the Board.

Lastly, what would you tell someone interested in volunteering with Phinney’s or helping in other ways?

I’m going to answer this question with an example. The other day I was on the bus and I saw a really tired-looking man with a cat carrier that was literally attached to a rope hanging over his shoulder. Because of my experience with Phinney’s, I knew I should chat with him. It turns out he is homeless and his girlfriend is in the hospital, and so there was no one to care for her cat, whom he clearly adored. Although it was a really sad situation, I was so grateful to be able to say, “Hey, there’s this organization that might really be able to help you.” In that moment, I was incredibly grateful that Phinney’s existed, and I realized that we need to work to make it bigger and stronger, to increase the amount of foster homes and volunteers, and redouble our efforts so we can serve more people and animals. So that’s my appeal to potential volunteers!

Thanks so much, Mara, for chatting with us, and for all you do for Phinney’s!

Thank you!

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