Amanda Malik is taking steps to prepare her for a future career
Story by Karam Gafsi
Photo by Estefania Cavazos
Every Friday, Amanda Malik calls a Dial-a-Ride to take her to the Arizona Humane Society Sunnyslope campus. Occasionally, the driver who picks her up will not know how to get to the shelter, prompting Malik to take initiative and direct.
When Malik finally arrives at the shelter, she typically cleans kennels, washes bowls and takes some of the dogs for a walk. While this may all seem like an average volunteering routine, these Fridays–heavy with fur, borks, barks, woofs and tail wags– signify a momentous step in Malik’s journey toward an independent life.
Before getting into volunteer work, Malik described her past self as both shy and reclusive. By getting out and volunteering she is able to build her confidence and do what she loves. Malik credits her time at the shelter for her growing independence.
Malik’s desire to help animals harks back to her childhood where she would frequently watch the reality series, “Animal Cops,” which followed the everyday work of animal cruelty agents.
After seeing so many documented cases of pets becoming victims of animal abuse, Malik said she knew that she wanted to work to not only care for animals, but to also help them find homes.
“I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. It brings me joy to make [animals] happy in their worst moments of life,” Malik said.
According to Ashliegh Goebel, the volunteer engagement manager at the Arizona Humane Society Sunnyslope campus, Malik has proven to be a wonderful and driven volunteer.
“We’re so lucky to have her,” Goebel said. “She’s got this so down-pat. She’s a very passionate animal lover.”
Two years ago, Malik began visiting Ability360 to help her become more independent and to give her guidance in dealing with her epilepsy and cerebral palsy.
It was there she met her caseworker, Douglas West, who worked alongside Malik to find her opportunities and encourage her to fulfill her goal of working with animals.
“Amanda has made amazing progress. She’s become a huge self-advocate,” said West. “Volunteering is giving her the confidence she needs.”
According to West, the initial challenges Malik faced when she began volunteering were transportation and learning the layout of the shelter. Due to some bad experiences on public transit, Malik was hesitant about utilizing Dial-a-Ride.
To ease her stress, West began riding Dial-A-Ride with Malik until she became acclimated with the service and routine. West said it didn’t take long for Malik to start using it on her own.
“It was a big step for her,” West said. “All those steps that she took have just helped her blossom [to be] a great volunteer at the Humane Society.”
“Before Ability360, I really didn’t know if anyone could help me,” said Malik. “Now, I’ve learned to advocate for myself when there is a problem and get those problems solved.”
Malik said she plans to continue volunteering with the hopes that she’ll eventually land employment Wat the Humane Society. And perhaps, she’ll eventually adopt a few dogs of her own.
“If I could say anything to myself from three years ago, it would be don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine,” said Malik.
Karam Gafsi is a multimedia journalist with a love for all things video as well as magazine writing. He is a soon-to-be graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Through his videos and his writing, Gafsi strives to keep his audience not only informed, but entertained.
Read more by Karam Gafsi.