YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsVolunteers

Valley Chronicle

They Have Their Hands Out, but for Safety's Sake Not Too Far


Best of luck to Martine Colette and the rest of the folks at the Wildlife Waystation.

This home for abused and abandoned animals in Tujunga at the edge of the National Forest supports a population of between 800 and 1,500 animals and birds and has had its hands full.

First, the compound suffered through a rabies epidemic that attacked many of the large cats and other animals.

Now, they are trying to do some fund raising.

In these hard economic times when every charitable organization is desperate for handouts, Colette, an incurable optimist, says she has no doubt people will again come through, but the situation is tight.

Summer, she says, is their busiest time. As the temperature climbs, so does the number of animals they are housing. Currently, she adds, the staff and volunteers are working in three shifts to nurse dozens of newborn babies, some of which must be fed every 20 minutes.

The big cats, wolves and bears need shade, daily monitoring and increased protection against insects. Other animals need to be watched constantly for signs of sunstroke.

Also, at the time when the need for volunteers is greatest, the volunteer pool is dwindling because of vacations.

"However," she says, "no matter how bad things are, there is always something that impels people to want to take care of our creatures."

That probably has a lot to do with animals like Charlie the chimp and Angela the tiger.

Charlie is the latest animal to land in the Waystation. He's a retired performing chimpanzee who was sent to Tujunga from his home in Newberry, Fla.

"His owner died and the widow didn't want him to suffer or be unhappy, so she asked if we would take him, and, of course, we did," Colette says.

Angela is a female Siberian/Bengal mix tiger who was found abandoned several years ago in a warehouse in Alaska. She had been left in a small crate in freezing temperatures without food or water.

The animal regulation folks there looked all over the country for a place to send her. "She came to us and now she is healthy and content," Colette says.

The Waystation has gotten a national reputation as a safe haven for the unwanted, according to Colette, who is its founder.

"We have had animals sent here from all over the country, and from other countries," she says, pointing to the 10 lions and three tigers she inherited from a zoo that closed in New Zealand.

The Waystation, which offers tours each first and third Sunday, says there are many ways people can help, including everything from volunteering time and/or money to financially adopting an animal.

Counselor's Example Will Live On Despite His Retirement

Fourteen years ago, Dawn Manabe of North Hollywood suffered a crippling back injury. Her life as she knew it was over, she felt.

Then, the former schoolteacher and boutique owner had one of those life-enhancing experiences. She went to work in a clerical capacity for a man named David Clingerman.

Clingerman, now 41, was a State Department of Rehabilitation counselor.

He spent his time working to help the disabled get back into the emotional and employment mainstream. One of his great successes was Manabe, whom he encouraged to go back to school and get a degree in psychology and counseling.

"He gave me emotional support. He hired a volunteer to fill in for me. He gave me time off when I needed it to study for tests," Manabe says.

Now Clingerman is retiring as a counselor. His own cerebral palsy is making it impossible for him to work full time. He may be gone, but his presence will be felt.

Clingerman was born with the nervous disorder. It was caused by damage to his brain before his birth.

The disease did nothing to the spirit that has driven him all his life.

In spite of taunting children and doubting teachers, he went through elementary and high school in Pittsburgh and graduated with honors. He received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

He came to California on a bus, with $200 in his pocket and the knowledge that he could make it on his own if society would let him. Once hired by the State Rehabilitation Department, he worked in Burbank and Glendale.

In addition to being a sympathetic listener to his clients, by example he gave them courage to set goals, says Manabe.

He was honored as Counselor of the Year in 1988 at a Disability and Employment conference in California, and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and the Foundation on Employment and Disability honored him for exceptional achievement in 1988.

Although his disease now makes it impossible for him to work full time, he is still in the office as a volunteer as often as possible.

"I came in the other day and found a lot of dictation he had done over the weekend," Manabe says. She will be among the 50 or so fellow workers, medical professionals, friends and former clients honoring him at a retirement party at the Sherman Oaks Radisson Hotel Wednesday.

The USO Wants You if You Can Dance, Sing or Whatever

Los Angeles Times Articles