How To Drive Volunteering In Switzerland
Sheryl is based in Zermatt. She works for a pet-caring association. With SUISSEPIC she shared her story of setting up a volunteering community in Switzerland and engaging new members. And believe us, it is not easy, but Sheryl does her best and enjoys.
SUISSEPIC: How did the idea of your business appear?
Sheryl Zen Ruffinen: I have had a passion and caring for animals since I was born. I wanted to be a vet but at the time girls and science rarely mixed. Anyway, I was excellent at math and many did not tell me that 50% of science IS math!
Additionally I have always wanted to help those who have no voice. About 5 years ago, I became involved with a USA based Facebook group who made blankets for animals in need; injured, abandoned, ill, etc. I proposed to be their European arm to help the animals here. It was a sour partnership from the beginning.
These women had no compassion. They wanted glory. Therefore, after many fights we divorced. I continued my group as European FABB, (they were called simply FABB, the abbreviation is not important). Through much thought and discussion, I changed the name to Global Comfort FAB.
SUISSEPIC: What are the services?
Sheryl: We continued as a Facebook group making our blankets and sending them to the USA, Europe, Thailand, Egypt, Romania Scandinavia, Australia etc. We work with individual pets, rescues, shelter and sanctuaries.
Two years ago, it was time to take our group to the next level. As I live in Switzerland, and am based in Zermatt, I opened an association in the group’s name.
In one year, I received tax-deductible statue for Switzerland. We have over 1,000 members, far fewer active ones that is normal and the majority in the USA. It is much more difficult to engage volunteers in Europe for many reasons, primarily financial.
Our blankets are sent everywhere, they are offered to animal auctions for sale, we sell to raise money for our group, and we offer to animal sanctuaries.
We also get involved many community service projects. Currently we are working with a prison where we deliver the fabric, they make the blanket, we find a home for it and at Christmas time they will sell them in their market.
I hold house sales and participate in Christmas and holiday markets to raise money for the association and now we have funds so can make small monetary donations.
These blankets are very special. They are not sewn but are handmade with knots. Each knot represents an energy, a thought, a prayer, anything that wags your tail! We are non-denominational and a-political.
SUISSEPIC: What is the success for you?
Sheryl: The success for me is enormous. On a personal level I am living my dream, not as a vet 🙁 but as one who can bring joy and comfort to helpless creatures of the universe and at the same time lend compassion and love to the people who make the blankets, receive them, those who dedicate their lives to saving our “furbabies” as we call them. Our success comes as well that I have created a global community of men and women who share a common purpose.
SUISSEPIC: How do you develop and set up goals?
My goals for Global Comfort FAB come easily and frequently. They may be the result of something I read about or see on TV, or a good old fashion original one!
Example, my latest goal is to start a campaign to regime the many hundreds of greyhound dogs in the USA who work at the racing tracks. These tracks are being closed for humanitarian reasons and the dogs may be killed if not re-homed.
I begin with an outline of a plan which I write down – a to do list. Next, I search for a member in my group who I believe can follow through and complete the task using their own connections and resources. The rest falls in place -with constant monitoring and feedback.
I DO not believe in standing over someone’s shoulder or phone and constantly ask them what they have done. If I feel nothing has been done I will ask. If you engage people who are not motivated yo will receive nothing. If you engage strong people, your rewards will be great. In addition, I must always be conscious that these people also have lives, commitments, perhaps their own health issues, etc.
SUISSEPIC: What is the geography of the business?
Sheryl: USA, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal Turkey, Egypt, Romania, Thailand Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand
SUISSEPIC: What is your favorite Swiss city and why?
Sheryl: Zermatt. There are no cars. The mountains have an enormous universal energy. There are many wild animals. There are many local animals. Many animals come on holiday! The people are friendly, and very international. There is always something to do, rain, shine, snow, all year round.
Inspiring women of Switzerland and Swiss border areas. Talented expats and Swiss citizens who change the world running their business, creating art, working for corporations, coaching, holding events. Happy moms, wifes, girlfriends who light up the world with creativity and beauty.