Our Why: Featuring Core Paws’ Volunteers and Their Animals

Just like the animals we feature here on Core Paws, all of our volunteers have a unique story behind their motivation to share their skills and passion for animals through our organization. Oftentimes, we are driven by our animals both past and present to give time and resources toward Core Paws’ cause. These are their stories.

Kara Hamada, Executive Director

Mitzi is very special to me. She was my last foster (#fosterfail) and has always been my cute rock over the past 5 years. The most adorable thing ever is when she puts all four paws under the heater by the bed and just lies there in heaven. She also is obsessed with paper and plastic bags, if there’s one around – she will find it and just lie on it. When she hears our cars, she pokes her head between the blinds and watches us walk up to the door to come in.

Mitzi - Kara Hamada - Core Paws

Julie Honse, Board Advisor

Alright guys – here is my crew. What’s missing here is our other cat, Ozzy–but he just didn’t make the cut for this shoot. We bid on a “piteo” at the Family Dogs New Life (familiar to Portland peeps) gala last May and won in the live auction, shot this in August and just got the finished product TODAY! White/brindle pit bull is Chuck, gray pit bull is Moby, black/white beagle/border collie is Chloe, black lab/golden retriever is Dorian (blind from glaucoma, hence the guidance and wall bumps), black/gray total mutt is Beatrice and 20 year old kitty is Sassy. All rescues from a variety of shelters/rescues around Portland.

Brad Hiyakumoto, Volunteer Coordinator

This is my little buddy Zoey! I’ve had her for nearly 4 years and she has been very loving. I adopted her from craigslist when she was just 6 months old! Although she is very loving don’t let that cute face fool you, she’s a diva at heart. Hope you all are having a great start to the new year!

Zoey - Brad Hiyakumoto - Our Why - Core Paws

Tracy Stocker, Partner Support Coordinator

This is Ginger, aged 12 or so when I “fospice-failed” (hospice foster failed) her and got her out of the shelter at Cat Adoption Team in 2012. I had known her family (an elderly married couple) who adopted her and had her for the first part of her life. After one passed and the other went into an assisted living facility, Ginger was returned (as was their previous policy) and left to sit in a 3x3x3 cage. No one was interested in her as an adoptable cat due to her age, her IBD and epilepsy diagnoses… she ate special food and took a few oral meds. I knew we could give her those things as well as a loving home. Sadly, she went into respiratory arrest after 22 days with us. BUT in those last 22 days, she was cherished, loved, and cared for so very much! It was later told to me, after we humanely euthanized her; that many pets with cancer or serious conditions at the shelter will let down their guard once in a safe, loving home and finally succumb to the disease which was non-symptomatic while in stress at the shelter. Their body finally comes to a “relaxed” state and the disease takes over. I know she was loved for a great deal of her life and she should have skipped the horribly lonely time at the shelter. I have made it my life’s mission to save every cat like Ginger that I can. Til MY dying day.

Ginger - Tracy - Our Why - Core Paws

Sonja Yamin, Administrative Volunteer

his is Monty, he was my best friend for about 12 years. He was a precious little fellow who used to wait overnight by the door at my parent’s home when I was out with friends. Being the sweet free spirit that he was, he always enjoyed a nice face full of wind while in the car .

Monty - Sonja - Our Why - Core Paws

Stephen Quinn, Facebook Coordinator

This is our mini aussie, Sage. It has been quite the challenge adjusting to having a dog to look out for (my first dog!), but each day the bond grows stronger. It’s an interesting feeling to look at your dog and know that your actions have a tremendous impact on their quality of life. Having a dog certainly has its sacrifices and adjusting was/is challenging, but I believe Sage has improved my life a ton and continues to teach me everyday. I now walk daily, exercise my creativity by coming up with new tricks to teach her/obstacles to complete, and have learned to handle frustration with a confident attitude. It feels good to give her unconditional love… there’s something powerful in that, that I think transfers into other parts of our lives. But enough with the sappy stuff! Here’s some pictures of Sage! I’m totally turning into that person who can’t stop talking about their dog.

Sage - Stephen - Our Why - Core Paws

Sarah Purkrabek, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin Coordinator

This is Bear (left) and Karma (right)! They’re both sweethearts. They live with my parents, but luckily I’m close so I get to visit a lot 🙂 Bear is so attached to my dad–he follows him everywhere. Karma’s the most loving dog you’ll ever meet. She just wants to be around people, and she’s always happy and wagging her tail. She’s had some hard times (when we adopted her she was super skinny due to constantly being sick from her food allergies–she eats a special diet tailored just for her now, and she’s clearly doing well in the weight department lol), but you wouldn’t know it from how sweet and trusting she is of everyone and everything. I love them both so much!

Bear & Karma - Sarah - Our Why - Core Paws

Cassandra Bibler, Website Administrator & Copyeditor

This is Hiro. He sings to my boyfriend after showers. He is spoiled rotten and brings such joy to our lives. Punk is the short hair cat. Both were rescues & have made our lives so much fuller (and hairier).


Aascot Bohlander, Content & Email Marketing Manager

This is Snickers. The left photo is of her adoption day. She’s a 10-year-old puppy at heart that just went on thyroid medication which has turned her up to 11 on the sillies scale. Her huge, silly, lovebug personality has combined perfectly with ours for the last 3.5 years. A big fan of cuddles, you’ll often find her following us around the house asking for lap time and pets. Snickers is our baby and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Snickers - Aascot - Our Why - Core Paws

Sadie Masek-Lesueur, Events Coordinator

This is Ember. I got her when I was in my preteens, and she held on until after I had kids. Her nickname was “Warrior Kitty”. She was not what you’d call friendly, but she loved me more than she loved anyone else and always knew when I needed a good snuggle.

Ember - Sadie - Our Why - Core Paws

Brynn Gomez, Events Coordinator

These are all of my fur-babies!! All of them I’ve had since they were available to be adopted or gifted at 8-weeks. They have been my constants in life and have undoubtedly brought (and continue to bring) life’s lows a lot higher with their presence and love!! My Great Dane and cats sleep on my bed with me every night and have done so for the past seven years (two for the orange kitty). My pitty is up the street at my parents house (my Dane is a tad possessive/jealous of me) where he is spoiled beyond belief, like I believe all pets should be!! Daily walks in the woods, millions of kisses, hundreds of cookies and of course fish oil and vitamins for my babies!! I literally can’t imagine my life without them all!! Lol if I could give a should out and he could understand it would go to my Great Dane because he’s through everything with me!!! Not-so-good friends, lame boyfriends, illnesses, injuries, more lame boyfriends, migraines, anxiety, you name it!! And yet he still lets me spoon him nightly, haha!! Love my babies!!!🐾😻🙏🏼

Orange cat: Remington “Remi”
Ragdoll cat: Tootsie Roll “Toots”
Pit bull: Cash “Cashy”
Great Dane: Sergeant “Sargy”

The Pack - Brynn - Our Why - Core Paws

Natasha Roque, Instagram Coordinator

These are my babies Yoyo & Evee. It was pretty much love at first sight with these babes & they are such amazing sisters to one another. Yoyo (black) is 7 yrs old & has been my boyfriend’s pup since he stumbled upon her during one hot 100+ degree Las Vegas summer day. She had been alone & hiding underneath his dad’s truck trying to seek shade. She’s been our baby ever since. She is the most lovable dog you will ever come across. I swear. She will let you cuddle her in every way imaginable. She loves love & constantly reminds us everyday how much she loves us. Oh! She does become this crazy psychotic beast when chasing a ball. Now Evee (Blonde), she’s my Princess. At 3 yrs old this ham is royalty of the hams! My boyfriend also stumbled upon her one day. A family friend was just trying to get “rid” of her. Sebastian (my boyfriend) saw a picture of her & decided to bring her home that same day. The rest is history. Evee is such a petite little thing but definitely let’s her presence be known – she loves to be held and constantly wants all eyes on her. Not too mention she, too, loves love & cuddling up next to you to stay warm. These two are incomplete with out each other, constantly looking out for one another & are quick to defend one another when we play fight. Filled with life, so much personality, & emotions, these animals love hard. Evee & Yoyo opened up a part of my heart & showed me companionship. Every animal big, small, senior, 2nd/3rd chance, special needs, they all deserve the opportunity to feel this love I share with my dogs. That is why I do this, these guys need people to fight for them. So we fight!

Yoyo and Evee - Natasha - Our Why - Core Paws

Written by our team, respectively. Written pieces collected, images arranged, and images edited by Aascot Bohlander.


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