2021 Year in Review: Alex Wehrung, Public Affairs Manager

It’s time to look back on 2021! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2021 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Diapers, cleaning wipes, changing mats, clothing, strollers, car seats, nursery furniture, bottles, sanitizers, pacifiers, toys, more toys, even more toys – if this list is looking familiar to you, hello, fellow parent! For the uninitiated, I’ll summarize: babies require a lot of stuff. When my wife and I welcomed our first-born son Hunter into the world this past April, we were prepared for an influx of baby-related items to our (small, two-bedroom) household.

Storage space was limited, but we tried our best to make it work. Our spare bedroom was successfully converted into a hybridized nursery and home office, many storage bins were purchased, and we moved some larger items like camping tents and gear into long-term storage (my parent’s attic). In retrospect, some of the items we acquired weren’t absolutely necessary, and others should have been purchased in bulk. One thing that we never seem to have enough of? Books!

Storytime is absolutely one of my favorite parts of the day with Hunter. He doesn’t always seem as interested in the pages as I am, but it’s our daily tradition to wind down with two or three storybooks each night. By my rough calculations, if two or three unique and individual books were to be read each night during the past eight months, that would equal 96 books! Too many for our modest apartment to hold if they were acquired upfront. Luckily, someone has been looking out for me at the Wildlife Center.

About once or twice per week, I’m greeted with a surprise in my mailbox at work: a children’s book! I have no idea who’s responsible for gifting them to me, despite asking around the office somewhat regularly. I have no idea where they’re coming from, aside from the clues of their library origins. Many of them have inserts for librarians to stamp checkout and check-in dates (some copies were last checked in back in the 70’s). There have never been any notes left with the books, and I’ve never seen the delivery to my mailbox. I have no idea how this mystery giver is in possession of so many books, but what I do know is that someone is thinking about me and my family, and never asks for anything in return.

My Year-End Memories sometimes end up focusing on my human coworkers rather than the animal patients seen in our hospital, and with good reason: the connections that are made between people at the Center, our supporters, our friends, our colleagues, and everyone else in between is what makes this place so special to so many. I’m struck by the parallels between this mysterious book giver and the character traits that we often hear about during the holiday season – generosity, selflessness, and giving to help, not to simply be recognized.

Whoever you are, if you’re reading this, please know how much these books have meant to me during the past eight months. Also know that your books will always have a place in our tiny, cramped apartment, so that they may be passed on to a new young family when the time is right.

— Alex Wehrung, Public Affairs Manager

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!