We cannot thank our volunteer run team enough for their hard work, sacrifice, compassion, creativity, and encouragement. Without these guys and the many other volunteers and foster parents we rely on, we could never save as many lives as we do.
Robert Shapiro, Founder & Director
This kid is our local hero. Robert started Social Tees as a company that sold tee shirts to raise awareness about social issues like race, poverty, and education, and he eventually let it evolve into an animal rescue because he was more passionate about saving neglected critters than about making money. He’s been into reptile rescue and rehab since he was a wee lad, and that’s how this whole thing got started. Robert is a handball fanatic, a master at word play, and spends most of his time trying to save the entire world — for real. In addition to rescue, he and the Samantha Brody are working on environmentally focused projects that will hopefully one day make a huge impact on humanity.
Samantha Brody, Director
Bosses everyone around whenever she feels like it. Jk! Sort of. Samantha started with us as a foster parent in 2012 and quickly started doing just about everything else it takes to manage this amazing, insane, wily, challenging, uplifting creature we call Social Tees. She does most of the boring administrative stuff and also a lot of the cool things like running our social media, planning photo shoots, coordinating adoptions, and playing with really cute animals. She has two ridiculous looking dogs (you may see them from time to time modeling in our Instagram pics) and two cats. In her "past life," she was the senior editor of a parenting magazine and got her Masters in Environmental Conservation Education.
Marisa Adler, Director of Volunteer Operations
Marisa joined us in 2008 after stumbling upon the shelter by accident. Thank goodness she did! She began as a regular old cage-cleaning volunteer and is now the Pied Piper of our volunteer team — she oversees recruitment, training, and adoption events. Marisa says we originally snagged her “because of our multifaceted personality as a socially conscious organization, serving both animals in need and greater societal good through our tee shirt fundraising activities and our environmentally sustainable outlook.” Wow, that makes us sound fancy! (It’s all true.) Outside of animal rescue, Marisa is a sustainable materials management professional and follows a vegan lifestyle. She has two quirky cats, brothers Purrrcy and Clawde. She can't imagine life without them. Two certainly are better than one!
Dimitra Molossi Bennett, Director of Rescue Operations
The woman, the legend. Dimitra is the force of nature behind every off-the-wall thing we do, from rescuing pregnant bulldogs from the underbelly of Brooklyn to figuring out how to bust 100 dogs loose from west coast kill shelters and fly them to the Big Apple. She is our heart and soul, propelling us forward and keeping our heads up especially when times get tough. This Greek Goddess grew up in Germany and has been in the states for the past decade. She also works in TV production, but dogs and cats have always been her passion, and she’s on a mission to end animal abuse and neglect by raising awareness about the rescue world. Her dogs (Mokee the Boston Terrier, Bang Bang the mini poodle, and Emma the Weimaraner) are a great conversation starter for us — did you know that 25% of rescue dogs are purebreds? Discuss.
We barely have words to express our gratitude. Her duties include… EVERYTHING. We pretty much trapped her when she showed her true rescue colors. “Not letting this one go… ever,” we thought to ourselves. We’ve taken over her life, but at least she says she’s met some of the greatest people in the world since joining and what she appreciates most is: “That the animals’ well being is truly our top priority. We alway makes sure they come first no matter how much effort it takes. Everyone works hard, and we are all united in the mission of saving lives.” Word. Also, she's obsessed with Billy Pilgrim, her 8-month-old FIP positive cat.
Nobody works harder than — or as hard as, come to think of it — Daniela. Unstoppable! Even with a full time job, she's in contact with us and a slew of adopters and foster parents like 24 hours a day. This powerhouse of compassion moved to the U.S. from Ecuador in 2009 and of course brought her tiny, grumpy, "stinky" senior dog Kendy (who has since passed), and she adopted her other dog Bebe soon after arriving. Daniela knew she wanted to help the other Kendys and Bebes of the world and volunteered at different rescues until she (thank goodness!) found "home" with us: "Everyone's welcomed me in, and here it really is all about the pups!" Oh and she's married to our head volunteer Lurian!
Without a doubt, Lurian was that wise cracking class clown who kept the teachers on their feet. A totally awesome combination, this brilliant kid is organized beyond belief and incredibly funny. His chime-ins on our group emails are often the highlights of our day. He's also as solid as they come -- he spent 6 years as an Army infantryman... and now works in the wild world of accounting. He joined us because his wife Daniela (also a head volunteer! #powercouple) roped him in with her contagious love of rescue, and he immediately knew it was something that had been missing: "Being able to help lost little pups find such amazing homes has brought a renewed energy into my life."
Terri Atherly and John Mahon
This dynamic duo helps keep our kitties happy and healthy! They live around the corner and are incredibly generous with their time. They come to clean the cages and to give any animal onsite some cuddles and kisses every day, rain or shine. It seems they are always doing something fresh and exciting, like attending the hottest new outdoor art exhibit in Brooklyn or trying the latest exercise class craze. (Zumba, anyone?) We love bumping into them and their glowing smiles around the area when we're all off duty. They have three cats of their own, and they treat every animal they meet — even the scaly ones — like a family member.
Our sister from another mister, Mara has been with us for what feels like an eternity. She processes adoption applications from waaaaaay offsite all the way in Germany, and despite the time difference, she is so in touch with the team that we can't get a moment's peace. Jk! Mara's thoroughness and silliness (and German-ness) keep the machine running like clockwork. She has always been a huge dog lover but says she started to see a different side through her work with us: "Volunteering, I know I’m making a difference. Helping to find homeless animals their forever home and families find their missing family member has been such an incredible feeling I wouldn't want to miss."
We lovingly call her the Energizer Bunny -- she's cute, snuggly, wears sexy shades, and never, ever stops. Ashley heads up special events and does a smashing af job. She has also fostered up to six puppies at once! She began as a weekend volunteer, but we saw her potential and kind of loaded her up with responsibilities, which she's handled like a champ. Ashley's gone to the moon and back to grow and evolve our volunteer and events programs. "It has been the most fun to work with brands, organizations, andstellar individuals," she says. "Hanging out with adorable pups, helping to raise awareness & funds, and contributing to the culture of Social Tees is an honor, a privilege, and a gift."
Our super awesome and loyal Sunday shelter attendant, Renee keeps the place tidy and helps out with adoptions and foster home coordination. She is one of the happiest, warmest people you'll meet! During the rest of the week, she hangs with her handsome dog and designs toys. So she's basically living every kid’s fantasy version of grownup life. She and her husband rescued their dog Zeke, who they say is the best ever, so she joined our team because she wants to help other people find their best pets ever — and to help the animals waiting for those people in the meantime. She also has a black cat named Dakota Ignatius Kittypants.
This babe has a way with crotchety critters, and she often fosters the grumpy guys that need a chance to chill out. She is one of our Saturday afternoon shelter attendants, and she joined after adopting her dog, Bradley. He had a rough start to life, so he had developed "a bit of an attitude." Seeing the massive behavior changes after a few months of love made her want to help all the misunderstood animals out there find their perfect people. She claims she stuck with us because she thinks it’s amazing to work with such like minded people, and she’s constantly inspired by the dedication and commitment of the entire Social Tees family.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Michael Levitt aka "LA Mike” guiding our West Coast rescue efforts. We met Michael in 2012 when he adopted his one-eyed pup Nelson from us, but we realized he was our rescue soulmate when we saw how inspired he was to save more lives. He does these videos where he gives dogs newly free from the kill shelter a celebratory fresh cooked snack, which he called "freedom chicken." We were hooked! Having Michael as our L.A. eyes and ears has allowed us to build strong relationships and to rescue thousands of pups in CA.
Everybody loves Gary! He has been one of our Saturday shelter attendants since 2012. This very sweet and eager-to-help angel joined because he wanted to honor his rescue cat Oliver. He now also has a 5-year-old spoiled-as-hell Pomeranian adopted from us! Gary works very hard for us because, he says, “It is vitally important for all of us to do our part to increase awareness and to help the cause.” Yes! Outside of rescue, Gary has a really grownup job — he’s a board certified prosthodontist specializing in dental implants, cosmetics, veneers, and full mouth rehabilitation. Woah.
Behold, our beloved and revered Canine Fecal Engineer! Inside joke. He's a dog walker, so we made him a shirt years ago featuring that title, and he still wears it. Paul has been with us longer than any other volunteer, and his help is invaluable. So is his sense of humor and creativity, which we rely on for pick-me-ups each day. He's one of those guys who somehow knows everything that's going on, so we constantly turn to him for neighborhood news. He has a dog named Brisket and two senior cats, all foster failures.
This piece of gorgeousness is basically a super hero as she spends nearly every waking moment protecting something special, human or animal, during her day job and while volunteering with us. Plus she has a few stunning rescue doggies of her own! She is on call 24 hours a day and, despite her very busy schedule, somehow always available to rise to the challenges we present her, like foster some off-the-wall bulldog puppies for a week, or completely fill her car with dogs in need of transport. Michelle’s motto: “I took 9.”
Paw-Parazzi: The very, very talented artists and photographers who donate their time and skills so our critters can find their forever homes faster.
Incredible compassion and creativity in one gorgeous package, founder of realhappydogs.com
Documentary photographer with panache who has a soft spot for rescue critters; amylombard.com
Runs Hilarious Hound, a fun and energetic pet portrait operation; hilarioushound.com