When executive assistants Kim Lemley and Desa Baker aren’t doing their day jobs, they can likely still be found at the Intel Arizona sites. Whether it’s six in the morning or midnight, there’s no clocking out of their volunteer positions with AZ Paws.
Their hard work, dedication, and above-and-beyond attitude have won both Lemley and Baker the title of 2020 Administrative Excellence Award winner. Later this year, they will be recognized for their achievement at Intel’s most prestigious award ceremony, Legends and Luminaries.
From cats to bees, AZ Paws does it all
AZ Paws, a program started 16 years ago as an initiative to keep the feral cat population under control at Intel Arizona’s Ocotillo site is now used on both Arizona sites to control wildlife — cats, dogs, owls, bees, coyotes, reptiles, along with many others. The program, led by Lemley and Baker, is working to make Intel and the local community a safer place for both the wildlife and people.
“Bottom line, whether tall or small, furry, feathered, or scaled … our goal is to make Intel and our local community a more harmonious place for all to co-exist,” says Baker.
Lemley and Baker explain that the Intel Ocotillo site sits beside the Gila River Indian reservation, where there’s an abundance of native wildlife — resulting in lots of animals wandering on and off the campus. Likewise, Intel Chandler had an overwhelming population of stray cat colonies, making intervention necessary. When asked where all of these cats come from, Lemley and Baker explain that stray cats reproduce at a rapid rate and the colonies have found a place to live in the underground culverts built to help prevent flooding.
Rather than security or corporate services calling pest control or an extermination company when there’s an animal emergency on the campuses, the AZ Paws volunteers step in.
“When pest control is called, it’s not only expensive, but you don’t know where the animals are taken. Also, other strays will come in and take their place — it’s a never-ending cycle,” says Lemley. “We have something called mission mode alert. This alerts our team when there is any kind of animal emergency. We jump into action immediately, no matter what day or time it is.”
Going all-in to support the animals, Intel and the broader community
Lemley and Baker explain that AZ Paws serves as the liaison between these animals and the community — working with security, corporate services, the site committees, outside organizations, and others.
To control the feral cat population at both the Chandler and Ocotillo campuses, AZ Paws uses a “trap, spay/neuter, release” method. This process is labor-intensive, as the cats have to be neutered (and cared for after the procedure) and fed daily. This costly process was initially funded solely by fundraisers and donations but has recently received support from Corporate Services.
“AZ Paws is instrumental in keeping the daily business running smoothly for Intel and keeping the animals safe,” Lemley and Baker told Circuit News.
Paw-sativity and passion drives the program
There are no limits to the extent Lemley and Baker and the team of volunteers will go to in order to support the wildlife on the Intel campuses — from fostering animals who need homes to being there for the last breaths of animals that need to be euthanized.
When asked what makes the long days and countless hours dedicated to the program worthwhile, Lemley describes the feeling of seeing a feral cat begin to trust people and eventually join a good home. “Just knowing that we are helping an animal find their way to a loving home to live out their lives is what makes it worthwhile,” says Lemley.
Baker recalls the many times stray dogs have been found on the Ocotillo campus — but one time, back in 2015, particularly stands out. Several stray dogs were found in a poor state — one was pregnant, others were sick. It also happened to be nearing Arizona’s notoriously hot summer. The AZ Paws team worked to build shelters, bring vets to the site, and eventually foster-to-adopt the dogs.
“It was a ginormous undertaking that lasted months with the end result being nothing short of miraculous on so many levels,” says Baker.
AZ Paws has become such a success that other companies and organizations in the surrounding area have asked for help starting their own versions of the program.
Lemley and Baker say they feel honored and excited to be selected as the Admin Excellence Award winners, especially for doing what they are passionate about — loving and caring for animals. The program could not function without the group of volunteers that take care of the animals. They hope to see the program continue to grow and thrive, especially at other Intel sites. As Lemley and Baker look toward retirement, they hope to pass off the program to equally dedicated and passionate animal-lovers who are willing to take on the task.