Volunteer Spotlight: MHS senior Jessica Scheinbaum ‘Opts’ to help
By DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI
Jessica Scheinbaum, 17, volunteers her time with Communities Promoting Animal Welfare NJ. Scheinbaum is a senior at Montclair High School and chose CPAW NJ for her internship in the school’s senior option program. She will attend New York University in the fall, studying pre-med; her goal is to be a doctor.
In this series, we highlight a hometown person who has given time and effort to help people, animals or the environment. To suggest a person or an organization for this series, email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
How did you get involved with CPAW NJ?
I went to a fair two years ago and [CPAW NJ] had a tent there. I wanted to volunteer and Karen [Shinevar, president and founding board member] said I can do it as my senior option.
Why do you volunteer there?
I have two cats of my own, Ziggy and Marley, domestic shorthairs. I chose CPAW because I love cats and volunteering. Every year I participate in local volunteering activities.
How much time do you spend volunteering?
Currently I volunteer 20 hours a week, for senior option. Before senior option, I would volunteer whenever Karen needed help. It was usually with dropping off and picking up the cats, which would take around two hours a day, [about] three days a week. Depending on how many days she needed help, that’s how many hours I volunteered for. After [graduation] I intend to continue to volunteer on winter breaks and weekends.
What are some of your volunteering duties?
I transport cats to People for Animals, a clinic in Hillside Township. They have a feral package and administer vaccines. I clean cat cages, feed them, give them water. I trap ferals, I put cat food in the traps. Tonight I’m setting up traps in Bloomfield to catch baby cats, which can be transitioned [into a home].
What have you discovered or learned while volunteering?
A lot of people call CPAW about stray cats. I learned what trapping is, how to take care of ferals. My cats are very different from outdoor feral cats. I learned how important it is to spay and neuter. I never realized it was a big issue until working with CPAW. There are so many ferals, we can’t help them all.
What’s your favorite part of volunteering?
My favorite part is bringing the cats home from the vet. You know they are safe. They are so happy when you release them, you know they are in a better condition and less aggressive.
How do your family/friends feel about your volunteering service?
My dad loves it. We have cats and he is always willing to help. Sometimes I borrow his car if mine is in the shop.
Have you volunteered anywhere before?
I volunteered with MESH Café (Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless) at [Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair] also at Bnai Keshet for the MJW [Montclair Jewish Workshop], a nonprofit secular school for Jewish families and children. I’m also with the Key Club at MHS.
What is your inspiration to volunteer?
My dad; he raised me. He always says the priority is volunteering, to do it to make yourself happy and others happy, not for college applications or anything else. I didn’t even have a chance to write CPAW on my application for NYU.
What do you do in your free time, when you are not volunteering?
In my free time, I play guitar and [skateboard and roller] skate. Other than that, I go on road trips or travel over the summer. This summer I'll be working at Rustic Pathways, an elephant conservation in Thailand. I planned it for a few years and finally got to do it my senior year in high school. I saved up for it; it’s volunteer but I still have to pay for airfare.
Animal welfare organizations in Montclair
Montclair Township Animal Shelter
77 North Willow St., 973-744-8600
Hours of operation: noon to 4 p.m.
Volunteer age: 16 and up
See related story on Montclair Township Animal Shelter at ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE AND A CAT