An Animal Lover's Dream: Maggie's Feathered Friends at Foster Parrot Ltd.

By Sara Porcaro | Jan 13, 2023
Foster Parrots, New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary, Rhode Island, Disabilities, IDD, Volunteer, Good Deeds, Disability Inclusion, Employment
Maggie with one of the Foster Parrots cockatoos

Tucked away in southern Rhode Island, a sanctuary is full of feathered friends singing to their caretakers. The parrots at New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary--commonly known as Foster Parrots--never has a dull moment, with the many beautiful birds flying about as dedicated staff give them fresh food, a clean and comfortable place to live, and plenty of companionship. And among those staff is none other than Maggie, an animal-lover dedicated to helping the birds live happy lives!
Since 1999, Foster Parrots, Ltd.--now the New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary--has been helping re-home and shelter unwanted parrots of all kinds. Founder Marc Johnson began this mission over three decades ago: as a potter and pottery instructor in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he found himself one day answering a classified ad to take in a beautiful macaw named Wally. And with Wally came several other birds, all of which needed to be re-homed as their owners could no longer care for them.
"That's when Marc really started learning about the 'parrot problem'," says Sanctuary Director Jennifer Yordy. "Parrots are the third most common companion animals, right after cats and dogs, yet they're the ones getting given up most often. We give them a space to thrive here."
And thrive they do. The sanctuary team have taken what was once a facility for a commercial chicken farm and transformed it into a place where birds can express themselves and exist with their flocks, playing with each other and staff and getting quality food and care. The sanctuary regularly puts out calls for volunteers, as there's always work to be done taking care of the many wonderful birds on sight--and in 2022, Maggie answered that call, excited to begin lending her time and talents to a place that would let her be around so many interesting animals.
"It's awesome here," Maggie says about the sanctuary. "My favorite part is getting to feed the birds and get close to them."
"Maggie makes us smile whenever she comes in."
Every Thursday, Maggie comes to work with the conures and Quaker parrots. She changes the feed trays, clean the cages, sweeps and mops the aviaries, and say hello to her good friend Gizmo the Catalina Macaw. As she also has a job with the Providence Journal, working to get inserts into the paper and ensuring no paper jams occur on sight, Maggie also has plenty of newspaper materials to donate to the sanctuary. She brings them in for Gizmo's cages (and for him to look at, with all the colors and shapes on the comics page). Between cool birds like Gizmo, and the friendly staff, Maggie's enjoying her time at the sanctuary--as well as learning cool bird facts, like why they preen themselves and how they feed each other to show affection in their flock.
"Maggie makes us smile whenever she comes in," says Jennifer. "She's always excited to spend time with the birds and tell us about the things they did on her shift."
And with such an upbeat, helpful set of hands on deck, Jennifer also encourages other non-profits to see how they can find enthusiastic volunteers like Maggie, who love to give back to their communities. It's a boon to all involved at Foster Parrots, with Maggie surrounded by cool animals she loves to learn about, and the birds with dedicated, gentle staff to help them have the happy lives they deserve. Way to go, Maggie--you're doing great work!
If you or someone you know is searching for volunteers, we can help! Reach out to Perspectives Advisor Lexie Nasatka at anasatka@perspectivescorporation.com to find your next volunteer match.


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