Real Women Doing Real Things: Candi Maciel, Development Manager at Best Friends Animal Society

As you guys know, my new book Maverick and Me is all about the importance of rescuing animals, and one of my favorite organizations is Best Friends Animal Society!  If you read yesterday’s post, then you get a quick look at a few of the dogs they have up for adoption at their Animal Sanctuary, and today I’m excited to share an interview I did with Candi Maciel, Development Manager of Workplace Campaigns for Best Friends Animal Society.  Candi is right there in the trenches saving animals every day, and it was an honor to hear about her experience!

Tell us a little about your job and what you do at Best Friends Animal Society.

I’ve been working with Best Friends Animal Society just short of seven years and, like most of my colleagues, I’ve been incredibly blessed to hold many different positions supporting our life-saving work. What makes our organization unique, is that every single person I work with, is dedicated to our mission to Save Them All. I like many others have been flexible and supportive doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal, including moving positions and taking on new challenges to support our work over the years.

I’ve served as an Event Coordinator, Outreach Manager, Pet Adoption Center Manager, NKLA Manager overseeing our initiative in LA and our coalition of rescue organizations, and currently I work as a Development Manager for Workplace Campaigns.  I have the pleasure of working with hundreds of companies across the country that empower their employees to support our organization through donations and volunteering. It’s pretty awesome to be that connector and help them get involved with our organization!

What’s a “typical” day for you?

My job is to work with current partners and potential partners, and help craft programs for their employees to support Best Friends Animal Society. From group volunteering, to initiating a donation campaign in the office, I meet with these companies to learn more about their team, share about our cause and our mission, and find ways that we can work together!  We regularly activate corporate volunteer groups in each our program cities: NYC, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta. If a company has a desire to help our mission to Save Them All, I’ll do everything I can to make sure they can get involved.

We host groups in our pet adoption centers, and at our events, and sometimes this is the first time many of these teams have worked with animals. So we’re helping educate them on our mission to end the killing of shelter pets in America, provide them with opportunities to help, all the while giving them a great team bonding experience.

When did you first discover your love for animals?

I’ve always considered myself an animal lover, and a compassionate person, but it was in 2005 just after I graduated college, that I stumbled upon a cat adoption event at my local Petsmart and everything changed. I met a feisty tuxedo named Olive who I eventually adopted, and at the same time, was suckered into volunteering every Friday evening for the next two years. I never knew the plight of animals in our shelter system – and once I was there and knew what needed to be done, I was determined to help.  It all escalated so quickly, I was involved in saving animals, and there was no turning back. I went on to start my own 501c3 dog rescue in Southern California, and we worked our full-time jobs and after work and on the weekends, worked to rescue and adopt hundreds of dogs a year into loving homes. Eventually when a position opened with Best Friends Animal Society that I felt was a good fit, I took a leap of faith and chased after it.  And here I am, happier than ever!

What’s one thing you want everyone to know about rescuing animals vs buying?

There are millions of amazing shelter pets that are out there right now awaiting adoption. Currently around 3 million healthy/adoptable cats and dogs are killed in our nations shelters each day (5,500/day). They are loving, they are happy, they are healthy, and they are so deserving of a forever home. When you make the choice to adopt, everything in your life will change for the better! You’ll have this new family member/new best friend, that will shower you with love for the remainder of their life. It’s the most incredible feeling.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

There are so many things I love about my job, but absolute favorite is helping to make the connection between a person and an animal. I’m a firm believer that animals choose us, as much as we choose them. Meaning, I believe that every animal is born into this world with purpose and a destiny that they are to fulfill, and we’re in a position to help make sure they find their people, and fulfill that purpose. I love animals, and I love people, and the greatest feeling in the world is helping them find each other and watching the love that comes from that. We’ve had incredible stories of animals being adopted into homes who have built relationships with and changed the lives of disabled children, who have detected breast cancer in their adopter early on and saved their life, and who have provided love and comfort to someone. There are endless stories like this, and I’m so happy to be part of an organization that is working to Save Them All!

And in my current role, I get to connect groups of people to helping animals, many of which never have before. I’m helping expose them to a cause that hopefully will capture their heart and change their lives!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you first started that you know now?

I wish I knew how much little acts (volunteering, donating, fostering) could add up to make such a big difference. I was so worried that I didn’t have enough time, money, or a big enough house to help animals. And I think that so many people echo this sentiment and hold themselves back from getting involved.  What I have learned, is that in order for us to reach our mission to make the entire nation no-kill by 2025, we need the entire community to rally behind us in support. Whatever skills you have, any free time you have to volunteer or foster — we can use it! You see organizations say it all the time: “no amount is too small,” and this is just it, no amount of effort is too small — it all counts and it’s all needed, because we can’t do this alone, hence our motto “Together we can Save Them All.”

For more information about volunteering or adopting a pet from Best Friends Animal Society, you can check out their website here.

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