Business owners pay workers to volunteer

A love of rescue animals and a “moral obligation” to keep workers employed led a local business owner to pay employees for volunteer services at a local animal shelter.

Wayne Bedenbender, co-owner of AllyMaids, said his business has paid five of its workers to clean Lifeline Community Animal Center Shelter, a nonprofit no-kill facility in Atlanta, several days a week.

“We couldn’t let them lose the steady income needed to support their families,” said Bendenbender. “In order for our business to survive, we had to keep our fully-trained and trusted staff so that when this crisis is over and our customers return, we can still have the same cleaners they have grown to know and request by name.”

Since March, the AllyMaids workers have been paid for their volunteer time at Lifeline, cleaning public areas three days a week.

In early March, at the beginning of America’s response to COVID-19, AllyMaids implemented safety protocols in their daily operations, according to a news release. Team member have been required to have their temperature taken before starting their workday and were provided with face masks, alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, and gloves. Despite these precautions, AllyMaids experienced a more than 50 percent decrease in its business.

Ben Blair, co-owner of AllyMaids, said Lifeline is one of their favorite nonprofit organizations and the volunteer effort benefits both people and animals.

“Like it is for humans, a clean living space is essential to keeping the animals happy and healthy,” said Blair.

Bendenbender, who has two rescue dogs, said although business is picking up since the slowdown related to the pandemic, they don’t intend to end their commitment to LifeLine.

While being interviewed Bedenbender said some of his AllyMaids staff were at his DeKalb County home gathering potatoes from his garden for their families and cleaning so they could accrue hours for their paychecks.

Wendy Rodriguez, housekeeping manager, said the workers who have been cleaning the shelter are appreciative of the opportunity to volunteer there and earn a paycheck.

“They are so very grateful and happy,” said Rodriquez of the staff working at the shelter. “It was and still is hard times.”

She said that working at the shelter has been an emotional experience.
“It’s really nice seeing all the dogs. It’s sad that animals are without a home,” said Rodriguez, adding that seeing the animals in a safe environment is uplifting.

Karen Hirsch, public relations director at Lifeline, said the AllyMaids workers have freed workers to spend more time with customers and focus on the animals.

“It’s pretty amazing and really selfless,” said Hirsch. “They have contributed to getting more animals home.”

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