A rescued ringtail possum leaps back towards its nest as wildlife warrior Kaylene Mendola looks on. Rg020617

TWO wildlife warriors and their dedicated band of volunteers desperately need help from the community to continue caring for the wildlife of Phillip Island and surrounds.
Colleen Gilbee and Kaylene Mendola volunteer their time to operate Wildlife Rescue and Carer Shelters, Phillip Island which provides rescue, care, transport and rehabilitation of native wildlife from Phillip Island and surrounds.
The problem is, the non-for-profit organisation receives no funding and is quickly running out of money.
The organisation spends around $20,000 per year to care for animals, with injured animals rescued and brought to Kaylene’s backyard at Ventnor where 10 cages house kookaburras, magpies, ringtail possums and more.
Funds were down to a measly $32 when Kaylene put a desperate post on Facebook last week.
As of Wednesday, the gofundme account had received more than $5000 in donations since July 2016, and received $865 in two days last week, in response to the call for help.
But the funds are quickly swallowed up, with roughly $400 spent per week.
“Yesterday I went to the supermarket and bought $60 worth of fruit and vegetables,” she said.
“I got home and spent an hour cutting it all up and fed them all and I had nothing left, so I had to go back to supermarket again.
“When I put the message up on Facebook, one of our great supporters, Pete, rang me straight away and said ‘I’m on my way to the supermarket, what do you need?’ He came back with five bags of fruit and vegetables which is exactly what we needed and people have been putting money into the gofundme account so it’s been great.”
Members of the public are often willing to donate food, but it can often go to waste.
“If people want to donate fruit and vege, just give me a call first,” Kaylene said.
“We might already have some food then if someone else brings some, it might go off and it won’t be able to be used.
“The best thing for us is Woolworths or Coles vouchers, so we can go and buy the fruit and vege when required. It just makes it so much easier for us.”

Volunteers keep organisation going
Coleen works full-time and Kaylene works part-time, with the pair spending much of their spare time caring for animals.
They are supported by a few volunteers who help by feeding the animals, and 11 year-old Darci Innes, who has a holiday house in Surf Beach and is a keen animal rescuer.
“She comes out to all the rescues. She’s not an 11 year-old that just stands there, she’s got her jacket and vest on and she’s in with the animal accessing it before me,” Kaylene said.
“When I’ve been working through the day, for those few hours my phone is switched to Darci and her dad drives her everywhere and she’s been picking up the critters for us. She’s incredible.”
Native wildlife is what Phillip Island is renowned for, and organisations like this help support the local wildlife and environment.
Although the rescuing can be time consuming and taxing, Kaylene said it’s very rewarding.
“For the first 22 days of January I did 46 rescues, it was just crazy. We’re out all hours of the night rescuing animals,” she said.
“We’re animal lovers and we don’t want to see anything suffer. If we can help end their suffering or get them to the stage where they can be released back into the wild where they belong, I think we’ve done a great thing.
“People say ‘How do you let them go?’. I let them go quite graciously because I know this is where they belong and I know they’re going to be happier.
“I don’t want them in the cages any longer than they have to be. I want them back in their own environment.”
To make a donation, visit https://www.gofundme.com/2cs2eqrc or you can make a bank deposit to Bendigo Bank BSB: 633-000 Acc no: 155 893 191.
Or call 0412 258 396 to see how you can help out.