SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For many people struggling to make ends meet because of a debilitating illness, a pet may be their only source of companionship, but caring for that pet may be out of their budget. Fortunately, there are volunteers who are pitching in to help like Jesse Harrison-Noonan, our ABC7 Star this week.
Inside the Pet Food Express store on busy Market Street in San Francisco, there are dogs lined up waiting for baths. These aren't just anyone's dogs, they belong to clients of PAWS, or Pets Are Wonderful Support.
PAWS was founded in the late '80s as to help patients who are dying of AIDS keep and care for their pets. It grew out of a food bank at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
"Clients were coming into the food bank, many of them had pets, and rather than acquiring food for themselves, these people were actually giving food to their animal companions," said volunteer coordinator Walter Campbell.
Today PAWS is part of the San Francisco based Shanti Project a nonprofit that exists to enhance the health, quality of life and well-being of all people with terminal, life-threatening or disabling illnesses or conditions.
Today they have a pet food-bank, offer pet supplies, and help owners care for their dogs, and even help them stay clean.
It is all done by volunteers, like our ABC7 STAR Jesse Harrison-Noonan.
Jesse started volunteering about 6 months ago and has already brought in more than 50 other co-workers from Google to lend a hand at PAWS.
PAWS corporate liaison William Fanning said, "We started working with Google and one of the first volunteers to show up was Jesse - we were actually having a hard time filling those spots for the program that we created, and she, just on her own went to town."
Jesse says she's loving her time volunteering for PAWS, "It is an incredible cause," she said, "I think it is hard-up to find someone, another fellow employee at Google and other companies who don't love animals and don't want to help that human interaction with animals, it is a very obvious cause as well."
Fanning says PAWS was looking to build its relationship with Google, and Jesse took the reins and ran with it - "she started networking using all her internal channels and the response was so overwhelming. Where we now have this massive, thriving volunteer program all thanks to her taking charge."
Jesse said it was just a matter of connecting with the right employees inside google, "I think just being able to connect with the community across the board at different levels, knowing different listservs to connect, and really just knowing who is passionate about the cause your looking to organize has allowed me to really spread the word about PAWS," said Jesse.
PAWS says it now has a list of 100 Google employees who are willing to volunteer, all thanks to Jesse's outreach.
Google allows employees to take up to 20 hours a quarter off work to volunteer. Jesse says she's just happy it is helping people who need it.
"It has been really a win-win for all of us," she said.
"Jesse has been an incredible asset to us - we are so thankful to have her be a part of our PAWS family now," said Campbell.
Thanks to Jesse's great work, there are now many clean tails wagging at PAWS monthly dog wash.
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Google employees lend PAWS to help