She flew halfway around the globe to be at an animal fundraising in Langley on Saturday night.
Noor Alibay, a 31-year-old psychologist from Paris, France, not only came all this way to be a guest at the eighth annual Furry Tail Endings.
She actually showed up early in the morning to help decorate the room, assist with the silent auction, and help prepare and then clean up after a fundraising evening that raised a near record-breaking $101,000 for Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS).
Alibay didn’t make her first trip ever to the Lower Mainland to sightsee or visit family – like most travellers.
For her 32nd birthday, Alibay decided to gift herself a two-week vacation to the Lower Mainland. It was a chance to meet Tiny Kitten founder Shelly Roche and the LAPS teams, to volunteer at the Patti Dale Animal Shelter, and – of course – to attend the gala, which she’d watched on livestream a year earlier.
Three years ago, Alibay was turned onto a kitten cam called Foster Dad John’s Live Critter Room. She tuned into the live stream out of Seattle, watched and watched some more.
A year later, she learned of a similar 24/7 online feed called Tiny Kittens, based in Langley and hosted by Roche.
Before Alibay knew it, she was hooked.
“This trip is my dream, I really wanted to meet Shelly in person,” she said, explaining how impressed she was watching the Tiny Kittens on a daily basis and how she was quickly motivated to become a monthly donor to both the cats and LAPS.
“What I love with Shelly is that you can connect so easily with her… she talks to you like a friend… what is very special about Shelly is that she is very humble… her love and devotion, dedication, and commitment to the kittens is real and she takes time to answer us. She and LAPS are transparent. When you donate, I think you know exactly where the money goes.”
Animal welfare and care is not the same in France, Alibay said.
“We don’t have an amazing shelter like LAPS… I don’t donate to my local shelter… I’m here for the animals, the cats and dogs, for LAPS. If I have to wash the toilets, I will wash the toilets… it’s worth it,” she said.
Alibay is staying with a cousin in Coquitlam and drives an hour a day back and forth to the shelter daily during her visit.
“I just wanted to go to LAPS and volunteer,” and that Alibay has done every day since she arrived on Nov. 1 — at the shelter daily from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Saturday, when she spent day and night at Langley’s Coast Hotel helping with the gala.
No stranger to giving, she’s been volunteering since age 10, but never had such a rewarding experience as she’s having in Canada, Alibay said.
“When I leave, I think I will cry and I think I will be depressed in Paris. I have found my family here,” she said. “I have found my family of heart here… I don’t want it to end.”
She expressed her thanks to all the people in the organization who made her feel welcome, saying she brought a suitcase full of souvenirs from Paris as gifts for many of her new friends, as well as a sapphire and diamond pendant worth $850 that was auctioned off at Saturday night’s gala.
Alibay even indicated Saturday night that she’s considered moving to North America, to be close to what she calls the group of like-minded animal lovers involved with LAPS and Tiny Kittens.