If you open a bedroom door inside the Hospodarsky home, don’t be surprised if a few kittens end up darting between your feet.
Just last Thursday, six playful kittens could be found skittering toward the just-opened bedroom door and rolling all around on the wooden floor in George and Calista Hospodarsky’s’ Iowa City home.
In another one of the bedrooms, three little kitties poked their heads out from hiding spots on a cat tree and tried their claws out on a scratching pad.
Over the course of the past 12 years, the Hospodarskys have shared their house with more than 400 foster animals — primarily kittens and cats — from the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center.
Calista explained that their adventure began shortly after they got married and bought their first home. They initially just wanted to ‘try’ fostering, and so, they took in two low-maintenance kittens named Sasha and Sally, she stated.
“Since then we’ve just learned, had more and learned as we went,” Calista stated.
In the past 10 years, the Hospodarskys have bottle-fed newborn kittens, nursed sick cats to health and sometimes quarantined sick animals in their own basement. Calista said volunteering is very rewarding in part because she knows her contribution is filling a need and rescuing animals.
George and Calista explained that their foster work requires them to plan around feedings and medication schedules but said most fostering experiences are usually fairly simple.
However, the couple once took a few newborn kittens with them to a hotel for a wedding, George said, noting his family enjoyed stopping by to visit.
“My nieces and nephews loved it,” he stated.
Back in June, the Hospodarskys were among more than 150 people and organizations Gov. Terry Branstad were awarded a Governor’s Volunteer Award. This particular award recognizes certain people and organizations nominated by government agencies and other groups for exhibiting “exceptional leadership, creativity, cooperation and hard work through their volunteer service,” as stated on the award program’s website.
Staff members at the Iowa City adoption center are the ones who nominated the Hospodarskys.
They received the award, along with other various Iowa City area volunteers, at a ceremony in Cedar Rapids on June 28. Other recipients were also honored for work at organizations including Shelter House, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties.
Calista explained that she was honored to be among the recipients and amazed by their contributions. She said she encourages anyone to take up volunteering, by fostering animals or otherwise.
“I think it really is fulfilling,” she stated.
Liz Ford, who is the supervisor of the Iowa City adoption center, said George and Calista put in “an enormous amount of time” helping out at the center.
However, she went on to say that their most significant contribution is their work caring for cats that are too young or too sick to go up for adoption and might otherwise be euthanized.
“Foster parents take these little guys into their home, and they raise them until they’re old enough and they’re healthy enough that they can go up for adoption. So, it is a really important contribution,” Ford stated.
Ford explained the couple was especially helpful when the 2008 flood completely destroyed the adoption center’s previous location, forcing the center to move into a temporary building on Sand Road. The location was originally an empty warehouse, and Ford said George played a major role in preparing the space for the animals.
She stated that George also assists with data tracking at the center, which helps staff determine how and when to use various resources.
Ford went on to say that the adoption center has a need for more foster parents to take animals for two to three weeks or longer, noting the center is able to support a maximum of 40 foster homes and currently supports about 25.
Those who are interested in fostering can sign up right on the center’s website. The process definitely involves a home inspection and background check, and the center provides food, medicine, and other supplies the animals might need, Ford stated.
She went on to sat that the governor’s award is a great opportunity to highlight volunteers, and she would encourage people to help out in the community in any way they choose.
George claims volunteering at the adoption center is rewarding because it’s so easy to see he’s making a difference. He stated that he absolutely loves seeing the animals go from sick to healthy and move on to permanent homes, adding he sometimes hears from the people who adopt the animals he’s fostered.
“It just makes it all worthwhile,” he concluded.