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Conversations with Shannon Montoya

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon Montoya.

Shannon, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
It all started when I started looking for a new fur baby to join our family in 2009. After falling in love with my baby online, we connected with Karma Rescue and Phoebe joined our family shortly thereafter. Phoebe was just a puppy at the time, and I also had an almost 5-year-old daughter so my life was pretty crazy as you could imagine. It wasn’t until I got thru the puppy phase and my daughter being old enough to join me that I started volunteering with this wonderful organization.

So, in 2013, I began my adventure with Karma Rescue. I started off transporting animals. Vet visits, adoption events, from one boarding place to another, out of the shelter, wherever they needed to go I would take them. Before work, during lunch, after work or on the weekends, my daughter and I were driving all over Los Angeles county. I quickly fell in love with the organization their mission and wanted to do more. I started staying at adoption events (my daughter loved being able to help with the dogs) and quickly became a core volunteer who would show dogs to potential adopters and do home checks once dogs were adopted. Not far after that, I was running the adoption events when needed. We were doing such wonderful things and I was grateful for the opportunity but even more grateful because it got my daughter involved at such a young age. To this day, she continues to volunteer and give back whenever she can, not only working with Karma Rescue, but now as the president of her high school club, Youth Gives Back.

As the years went by, I got more involved in how the organization ran and how we raised the money to run our programming. At this time, I worked in the hospitality industry doing events (my paid job), so it was only fitting that I would take on a larger role in the event side of Karma Rescue. I became a key player in their annual fundraiser galas and ultimately became the co-chair for the event. It was so rewarding being able to put on an event that would generate the funds required to continue to help the pets and families in need.

Fast forward a bit to 2018, Karma went through a transition. We no longer ran adoption events or the prison training program. Our new focus was to aid, advocate and educate. We needed to stop the animals from landing in the shelter in the first place and keep families and pets together. It was at this time I took over leading the spay neuter program, Get Fixed. We fix over 300 animals annually and are working on ways to continue to increase that number and help those families in need. This year I went from volunteer to employee and am the Director of Get Fixed Spay Neuter and Community Outreach with Karma Rescue.

Being a part of this organization has been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life. I have been able to make a difference in the lives of so many; grow a circle of like-minded friends that mean the world to me and will be a part of my life forever; and be a role model to my daughter to become the kind and caring woman that she is. I will be forever grateful to Karma Rescue.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
With all organizations, there are struggles, or how I prefer to call them, opportunities, especially in the animal rescue world. Each opportunity gave us further growth as an organization and in my own personal life, the same. Sometimes you take a step back and then when all is right, jump in headfirst and get right back at it. There was never anything that happened that lead me to stop what I was doing completely. I always had a toe in the game when it came to Karma Rescue.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I started working in hospitality at a young age and it would always be my defining role. I worked in restaurants and hotels the majority of my life with a small stent at Disneyland where I learned to put on a happy face no matter what and I also worked for a bank as a drive-thru teller in a very small city in the Midwest which was the only non-hospitality role I held. Every position I held played a role in who I am today.

While working in restaurants, I was as an operations manager. I lead the team to ensure our guests had the ultimate dining experience. When I worked for hotels, I also held a management role but in sales. Catering sales to be exact. Booking events and delivering memorable experiences to my clients. Understanding the client, building relationships with the client, those were the favorite parts of my job and what I was the best at.

From sales, I decided it was time to take what I had learned along my career path and share it with others, so I started a role in Learning in Development. This was my calling. The joy in helping others be successful was exactly what I was looking for. My ability to connect with everyone no matter what level in a company they were in was my strength, so this position was a perfect match. One of my key attributes, what I feel sets me about from others that played an integral part in this role was my ability to bring a positive and happy outlook on everything I did. Being happy in the workplace was my passion and I ensured that everyone around me felt that. I always lived in the moment and gave everyone the best of me.

So, what am I most proud of? That is easy. No matter what great role I got paid for or volunteered for, the one role I am most proud of is that of a mother. Because of the life I led, my daughter is now a wonderful human; selfless, giving, loving, and full of life. She is who she is because of me and I am who I am because of her. This is success.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
There are so many that deserve credit. My family, my friends, each and every colleague I had the opportunity to work with. Even those I may not have seen eye to eye with played an important role in who I am today because I would not have learned how to navigate those situations without them. I am beyond grateful for everyone in my life.

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