Debbie Barba

Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner

OC Community Resources
OC Animal Care

ACTION: What does the volunteer do?

Debbie BarbaDebbie Barba stands out as one of OC Animal Care’s outstanding volunteers based upon her enthusiasm, commitment, flexibility and overall willingness to participate in a variety of activities that enhance services at the shelter and offer stray animals a second chance in life.

Debbie began volunteering with OC Animal Care in 2008 as a “cat socializer.” In this role, she dedicates many hours each week to handling and socializing cats that are available for adoption. Close physical interaction with the cats is crucial to their well-being. It reduces stress and keeps the animals healthy and mentally alert while awaiting adoption.

In addition to handling and socializing the cats, Debbie helps select names and writes behavior profiles. These types of activities are essential in communicating individual personality traits and characteristics to potential adopters. Often, someone interested in an animal will take it for a brief visit or decide to finalize an adoption based upon the behavior profile created by a volunteer.

In addition to her work directly with shelter cats, Debbie excels in her role as an OC Animal Care customer service representative. In this capacity, she assists potential adopters by answering questions about specific animals or general shelter policies. Her friendly smile is the perfect welcome for visitors interested in adopting pets, and her caring attitude helps reassure those in search of lost pets.

NEED: What community or agency need does the volunteer address?

Debbie’s eagerness to assist with a variety of projects and her willingness to take on new challenges is truly inspirational. In addition to cat socializing, she assists with community outreach, by leading shelter tours, presenting information to students and representing OC Animal Care at community events. As Debbie plans each tour, she prepares note cards specifically geared for the group so that important information is consistently presented. Debbie is passionate in her desire to educate children about responsible pet ownership, knowing that this is a lesson that will stay with them for life. She also realizes that children will often share information learned during shelter tours with friends and family, which allows her message to reach an even wider audience.

IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteer's service?

Over the past year, Debbie has made a tremendous impact through her volunteer involvement. She has directly helped dozens of animals find their “forever homes.” Her volunteer support is invaluable to the OC Animal Care staff, and most importantly, to abandoned pets who are offered a second chance in life through her efforts.

INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteer unique/special?

Debbie is a dedicated volunteer who works tirelessly towards the goal of bringing adoptable pets together with caring, responsible individuals and families. While overcoming several personal hurdles during the past year, her volunteer involvement at the shelter remained a priority. She is an incredibly selfless person who does not expect special recognition. The enthusiasm that she demonstrates as an OC Animal Care volunteer is always evident and completely sincere. Debbie leaves a positive impression with everyone she encounters.


Since signing up to volunteer with OC Animal Care in 2008, Debbie has dedicated more than 110 service hours. She is an outstanding example of the importance of volunteer involvement within our community, and her actions definitely inspire others to get involved.

Click here to find out how you can volunteer with OC Animal Care.