Support from the local community is crucial to carry out our mission. One of our supporters is Kelly Theunissen, who you might know as 1st Runner Up Miss Curaçao Teenager 2015. But Kelly is not just pretty on the outside, she's the kind of beautiful that's on the inside and shines right out.
Kelly has a big heart and feels a great sense of joy and fulfillment from helping others, especially animals. That is why, in her free time, you can find Kelly supporting CARF. We had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly and ask her some questions.
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
"My name is Kelly Theunissen and I am 18 years young. I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Curaçao where I still live with my family. I am the youngest of three siblings, I have one brother and one sister. At the moment I am in my last year of high school, I'm working hard to finish my study successfully."
"I am jolly and spontaneous person who likes to have fun and help others where I can. Growing up with bunnies, different types of birds, fish, turtles, guinea pigs, and of course dogs, I developed a love for animals early on."
Do you have any dogs of your own?
"Yes, I do. I have a three year old Chihuahua called Baby that I love very much. I am currently also taking care of my sister's dog because she is studying abroad. My family also has two bigger dogs that help guard our home. I don't think Baby would scare many people, haha."
How did you first learn about CARF?
"I first read about CARF when I was having dinner at a local sushi restaurant named Chopstix. One of the items on their menu is the so-called 'CARF Roll', which caught my eye. For every CARF roll they sell, part of the proceeds are donated to CARF. When I got back home after we had finished our dinner, I went online to search for more information about CARF. That is when I first found out who they are and what they stand for."
What inspired you to become a volunteer for CARF?
“I volunteer because I can’t handle seeing any animal suffer or in distress. It absolutely breaks my heart. Like I said before, I absolutely love animals. Helping them makes me feel worthwhile, alive even. Last year, when I participated in Miss Curaçao Teenager, I was encouraged to do volunteer work and contribute to the community around me. I immediately knew that I wanted to choose a project which would allow me to help animals and I choose CARF as my charity of choice. It was always in my plans to volunteer for CARF or another animal related foundation and this was a good opportunity for me to get started. I enjoy helping the ones without a voice, helping the animals."
Why do you think it's important to volunteer?
"I personally think that it's important to help others who can't help themselves, whether it's other people or animals. Animals can't defend themselves or speak for themselves. They're at our mercy. It's up to all of us to be their voice."
As a volunteer, what's the most rewarding experience you've had so far?
"Last year, I had to honor to help CARF raise money to buy Heartgard, a monthly oral pet med used in dogs and puppies as a heartworm preventive. Together we organized a special Meet & Greet event at Hofi Cas Cora with the aim to not only raise money to purchase Heartgard but also to educate the public on how to take care of dogs and be a responsible pet owner. We arranged a bouncer for the children, and offered our adult guests the possibility to buy snacks, drinks and even some decorations and accessories for their homes. Visitors could discover and enjoy the beautiful environment of Hofi Cas Cora and there were even some CARFIES attending the event, so people could not only meet with the people behind CARF but also some of the adoptable dogs. It was a successful day, we raised a total of Nafl. 1200,- which allowed us to buy 14 packages of Heartgard as each package costs around Nafl. 85,- With the number of CARFIES at that point of time, this was enough to provide all CARFIES with Heartgard for three months. This was definitely a very fulfilling day and a rewarding team effort."
Would you recommend others to volunteer, and why?
"Absolutely. It's such a rewarding experience, both for the animals you are helping, and for yourself. You learn so much, you meet new people who share the same goals as you, and you do good to others. Why would you not want to volunteer?"
Do you have any particular hopes for the future of the animals on Curaçao?
"Personally, I hope that in the future there will be no more homeless, abandoned or neglected dogs, or any other animals, on Curaçao. I wish that one day everyone knows what the responsibilities are of owning an animal and the commitment that come with adding a pet to the family."
If you find some free time in your busy schedule, what do you enjoy doing most?
"Sleeping! Haha. I have a very busy schedule so I enjoy the free moments at home with my family and dogs around me. On the days that I don't have any responsibilities, I like to give them extra attention. I also enjoy spending time with my friends, they are always there for me and they supported me for hundred per cent during and after my participation in the Miss Curaçao Teenager competition. Their friendship is very important to me. I also try to exercise regularly if my schedule allows it. Eating fresh food and living a healthy lifestyle is something I have been extremely passionate about. Not only does it make me feel good, it also helps me to focus better on school."
You sound very busy! Where can we expect to see you the following months?
"First of all, I'll be spending much time at school, working on final projects and preparing for my final exams. This is my key for future success. Secondly, I will continue with my commitments as Miss Curaçao Teenager First Runner Up. One of them is do good to others. All the International Beauty & Fashion Foundation (IBFF) queens are part of the group "Beauty For The Community". Together we organize several community projects for the less fortunates. Other projects that I'll be busy with the upcoming months are modeling events for several clothing stores, a TV promotion, carnaval campaigns, and of course you can expect to see me at upcoming CARF events as I will keep working as a volunteer to support CARF!"
For more information about Kelly and to stay up-to-date about her whereabouts, like her page on Facebook. If you feel inspired after reading this interview and you would like to become a volunteer as well, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.