Cat rescue volunteer helps create photo fundraiser

She never met the photographer behind the camera, but Leigh Cavanaugh still can see Jasun Singh’s familiarity with his subjects.

“There was a very personal tie to (the photos,)” she said.

Centennial College journalism student Jasun Singh died almost a year ago. In his memory, the family has assembled some of Singh’s photographs of cats housed at the Toronto Cat Rescue (TCR) and published them in a calendar. Leigh Cavanaugh created the graphic design for the project.

“It wasn’t like a normal job … because I felt the passion,” Cavanaugh said. “I felt connected to it.”

Last year, the TCR celebrated its 20th anniversary. Since 1994, the registered, no-kill charity has helped thousands of cats find loving homes and families. But the TCR has provided solace to more than just cats. Nalini Ramroop, executive officer at TCR, described Jasun Singh’s unique relationship with the TCR’s principal clients.

“Jasun volunteered at the Pet Smart Kennedy Commons adoption centre as a caregiver for the cats,” she said. “He was responsible for feeding, cleaning cages and entertaining the cats. But it quickly became apparent that his true talent was capturing their beauty in his photography.”

For Leigh Cavanaugh, despite never meeting Jasun, the interactions she shared with his family throughout the process made the project extremely personal and important.

And it turns out that Singh’s support for TCR – publishing the photos on social media – came along at just the right time. He assisted in a record-breaking year for the charity. In 2014, TCR found homes for 2,163 cats, the highest number of annual adoptions in the history of the Toronto Cat Rescue.

“(Of) all the photographs that were there, all the cats have been adopted,” Cavanaugh said.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Funds raised from the calendar will help the TCR provide housing for even more cats.

“The 2,000 copies that were printed will generate over $20,000 of fundraising for Toronto Cat Rescue,” Ramroop said. “The executives (will) use those funds towards training space in a new rescue centre we are planning to open.”

Ramroop added that the calendars will keep the memory of Jasun Singh alive as well as help homeless cats find forever homes.

“The rescue centre will be called the Jasun Singh Memorial Training Centre and it will strengthen the TCR to keep up the good work that Jasun so wholeheartedly believed in,” Ramroop said. “We will put some of his photographs in the centre and the spirit of Jasun Singh will be immortal.”