In April of 2021, Justin Potts retired after working 34 years in IT.
“I realized real fast I had to have something to do,” he said. So the very next month he started volunteering with Anderson Humane, where he and his wife adopted their first cat back in 1996 (they now have three: Xena, Ellie, and Luna).
In his first months as an Anderson Humane volunteer, twice a week you could find Justin interacting with cats and kittens, cleaning cat condos, changing kitty litter, and pretty much anything else that needed to be done to benefit the animals at our South Elgin shelter.
But by the fall, word had gotten around about his IT background. “With Justin’s in-depth business, project management, IT, and leadership experience, the volunteer engagement team scooped him up to assist as an administrative volunteer,” said Karen Kuramitsu, Anderson Humane’s Director of Volunteer Engagement.
Her department now knows Justin as their tech guru, the guy who schedules volunteer shifts, troubleshoots their volunteer software, and automates as many tasks as possible. He enjoys finding ways to save the organization time and money, no small thing for a non-profit.
But he can’t stay away from the shelter. “You’ll find Justin at our South Elgin shelter early in the morning – up to six days a week – greeting and thanking our volunteers,” Karen said. “He also checks in with them throughout the day and assists the volunteer team with recruitment for all of our locations.”
He even recruited his wife, Debbie, who now helps the dogs at the South Elgin shelter two nights a week. Here’s how good a recruiter Justin is: Debbie is allergic to dogs. Justin simply laughed at this irony and said, “She just thought I was having too much fun without her.”
And he is having fun as he works many hours a day at our shelter and corporate office. Justin enjoys the wide range of volunteers – from longtime retirees to teenagers – and said the staff and his fellow volunteers feel “like another family – my Anderson family.”
Even volunteering up to six days a week, Justin said retirement is a welcome change of pace. “My stress level went from 110% to very little. It was a huge change,” he said, adding that he appreciates the friendly and supportive environment at Anderson Humane. “Their tagline is Respect, Protect, Connect. The people there really embody all three.”