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Volunteer Profile–Erika Pospichal

Logic puzzles, federal tax laws, and analyzing financial trends. Working with people, boxing classes, and live music events. Perhaps these groups of activities usually don’t mix. However, Angel’s Wish is lucky to have a stand-out treasurer who finds fun and interest in both groups of activities. Erika Pospichal (pronounced “Pahs-pickle”, though “my family is very accustomed to responding to ‘Popsicle’,” Erika said) holds the position of Angel’s Wish treasurer. Even as the youngest and one of the newest Board members, Erika has jumped right into her volunteer roles at Angel’s Wish, hoping to inspire confidence and connections in whatever she does.

Erika and an Angel’s Wish cat sit with the remarkable results of the City-Wide Food Drive.

Erika is a Madison-area native who grew up in Monona as the middle child of three daughters. During high school, Erika worked at a local Italian restaurant. While working as a server and host, she learned “I absolutely loved working with people. It was my first job, and it really helped me to come out of my shell.”

After high school, Erika attended UW-Whitewater. While working toward her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, Erika worked at a credit union which also satisfied her dual interests. “This was [a] position that I really like[d] because I got to learn more about financial products, and I got to work with and help people,” she said. 

In addition to her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, Erika attained her certified public accountant (CPA) license. Erika returned to Madison to work as a tax accountant. While she had a brief period of career exploration, she eventually returned to tax accounting. It’s a position she loves because “I’m always being challenged to learn new things and am given many opportunities to take on additional responsibilities and mentor colleagues,” she explained. She said one of her favorite things is learning more about the ins and outs of her clients’ financial structures in order to “be an advisor that people seek out for guidance. The more I understand the clients I help, the more confidence they have in me, and the better advice I can provide them.”

While Erika really enjoyed her day-to-day work as a tax accountant, she wasn’t getting the interaction with people that she craved. In the summer of 2019, Erika started her volunteer career at Angel’s Wish. She said that Angel’s Wish stood out to her as a community-oriented organization, and “I liked the idea of working with a small, tight-knit group that makes a big impact!” Volunteering at Angel’s Wish–specifically helping out at weekend adoption events and getting to play matchmaker between kitties and potential adopters–allowed her to work with and help people in a way she found exceptionally rewarding.

One of her favorite memories of her volunteer time at Angel’s Wish is representing Angel’s Wish at Boomer Bowl-Your-Balls-Off, a fundraiser that benefits area animal welfare organizations. It is the largest active fundraiser for Angel’s Wish during the year, and, in addition to bowling, it includes a bake sale, a silent auction, and more. “It was a really fun event to be a part of and inspiring to see the support of so many people from the community,” Erika recalled.

She adds that she’s also helped with the “less glamourous” tasks, such as scooping and washing litter boxes and doing the laundry. “I’m also known to get lost in the back storage room, organizing and straightening up for a few hours at a time,” Erika said with a laugh.

While Erika enjoyed her volunteer shifts on the weekend, she knew she wanted to be more involved and learn more about Angel’s Wish. With the pandemic looming in the early part of 2020, she thought joining the Board would be a great way to keep being involved “even if I can’t play with the kitties every weekend.” Erika joined the Angel’s Wish Board of Directors in March of 2020, in a process she described as “a little bit intimidating at first…but pretty painless overall.”

Her organizational skills, in addition to her educational and professional background, come in quite handy when working as treasurer, a position Erika has held since June 2020. The position appealed to her for many reasons. She said, “it’s really interesting to see what makes this organization so successful (even during a pandemic).” One of the secrets to Angel’s Wish success that Erika learned was “we could not have had nearly as successful of a year without the amazing group of people committed to helping our organization.” She cites the number of volunteers, the number of hours foster families dedicate to caring for cats, the coordinating of adoptions, and managing the behind-the-scenes operations as “more than you realize. And our volunteers are so happy to help and dedicate their time!”

While most people think of a treasurer as someone who handles the money for the organization, Erika shared that’s not quite accurate. She explains: “My responsibilities revolve around ensuring that the financial transactions of the organization are appropriately reported.” Other volunteers hep to make payments and record financial transactions, and Erika reviews the information to make sure nothing gets missed and information is classified correctly. 

Another part of her role is to instill confidence that all financial transactions are reported accurately and appropriately.  “For example,” she said, “it is important that we have procedures to ensure that all donations we receive are deposited to our bank account and that the checks we cut are to pay for appropriate expenses.” She feels her degrees and her certification as a CPA can help people feel confident that the finances are being managed appropriately and safely.

While it may be difficult to get a complete understanding of the entire financial picture of an organization such as Angel’s Wish, Erika shared that she “geeks out” on logic, puzzles, and organization. Having an opportunity to utilize her education and background to puzzle-piece financial data together and analyze the trends is “really fulfilling to me.” She added it’s important to be in the loop not just with financial information, but also with the day-to-day operations of the organization and the relationships it has with other businesses so she can use that information to identify what the organization is doing well and what areas of improvement might be.

Finishing a half-marathon in 2019

Though her focus is on the treasurer role right now, Erika has other areas she’d like to help with during her time at Angel’s Wish. One of those is volunteer retention. Erika wants people to “make connections within our organizations and for it to be a sort of escape from reality” which is how she sees her time at Angel’s Wish. She’d like to remind potential volunteers that “you don’t really need to have any specific skills or training/education. Just come with a passion for animals and a willingness to help.”

In addition, Erika has several “pet” projects in regards to adoptions. She believes strongly in the “adopt, don’t shop” mantra as well as educating others as to why adopting animals is so important. She is also passionate about promoting animals who are older, not as healthy, have mobility issues or other issues that often get passed up for adoption. “Any pet you decided to adopt will bring you happiness and love, but [pets who often get passed up for adoption] will also be so grateful and appreciative of you for caring for them!”

Outside of Angel’s Wish, Erika has a range of interests that keep her active. She enjoys running and has run two half-marathons. She also participates in group exercise classes, like boxing, barre, and HIIT. “Boxing is by far my favorite group fitness,” she said. “I have so much fun, it is a butt-kicking workout, but it is also great to learn some self-defense techniques.”

Erika is also passionate about music–live music events, playing violin in a community orchestra (pre-pandemic), and even a little karaoke. She enjoys a wide variety of music–playing classical with the community orchestra, singing a little country or pop at karaoke night, or listening to rock, hip-hop or musicals. She also has a six-year-old “partner-in-crime” she considers her “own fur and blood”–Scooter, her kitty that she’s had for three years. Scooter is more interested in playing with glitter balls in the bathroom than marathons or music. “It’s a daily chore of mine to collect [the glitter balls] from wherever he’s gotten them stuck,” Erika said. “There’s usually a handful in there.” However, both Scooter and Erika like people–Scooter will greet anyone at the door and loves having his belly rubbed. (We didn’t ask Erika how she feels about having her belly rubbed.)

Erika & Scooter, partners in crime

Ambitious, caring, passionate, and organized, Erika has found the perfect volunteer positions at Angel’s Wish to combine her passions, interests, and education–helping people and financial puzzles. She hopes more people get to experience the joys she’s found as a volunteer at Angel’s Wish. “I am a people person… I like interacting with and learning about people,” she says with a bright smile. We like interacting and learning about you too, Erika.