A bit on the shy side, Dean Keck wasn’t exactly sure how much he was supposed to share with his pseudo-volunteer-for-the-day courtesy of Dawn. Keck, a Biology student and new volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, was still learning the ropes of daily animal care duties for the dozen or so sea lions and harbor seals currently receiving treatment. And now, here I was, an Xtra-Tuf-wearing Alaskan with little knowledge of marine mammals beyond those who make their home in northern Pacific waters. I certainly had never seen a place like this before. And in talking with Dean, never met any 20-year-old who possessed such quiet commitment for the difficult, often dirty job of treating wild animals who never want to be there.
Dawn Dishwashing Liquid, as I’ve mentioned before, is the only product that can cut grease, grime, and gunk without harming delicate fur or feathers of creatures helped by The Marine Mammal Center and another Dawn partner organization, International Bird Rescue. TMMC relies heavily upon the cooperation of Dawn and Procter and Gamble, that much is clear. But it’s people who have to implement such a massive effort when animals need care. Often, it is volunteers who provide the backstory, the behind-the-scenes grunt work; people like Dean. From the very first day, volunteers step up to whatever task is assigned them, be it thawing fish or washing dishes, cleaning pens or weighing animals. The staff-to-volunteer ratio is 1-to-20, by the way, so it is easy to see that no organization is an island of staff.
With the help of a camera crew, I had the opportunity to interview Dean as he prepared to spend his day taking care of the animals he’s grown to love. You can hear it in his voice and see it in his face as he shares some of the best moments of his personal journey of stewardship.
What matters? He, you, we. The collective. However, and whenever we can.
Every volunteer matters.