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Meet the Humans: Ken Friesen

RAPS’ maintenance man extraordinaire keeps everything in tip-top shape.

When anything around RAPS needs fixing, troubleshooting or … really anything, it’s Ken Friesen we call!

“My role here at RAPS is maintenance,” he says. “I fix everything that’s broken. Things that are going to break, I fix. I do everything from gardening to potholes to building.”

Ken first discovered RAPS when his wife, Lisa Brill-Friesen, surprised him by bringing him to the RAPS Cat Sanctuary – without telling him where they were going.

“We’ve been here ever since,” he says.

On that first visit, Lisa fell in love with a cat in Pen Number 1, Princess Diva. Meanwhile Ken was poking around and saw a bulletin board with a list of needed repairs around the facility. He decided to volunteer to fix some of the leaking roofs, sagging porches and other down-at-heel aspects of the place.

“We spent eight months doing it,” Ken says. “We canceled our holidays and just stayed here – and we been here ever since.” He started off as a volunteer, then became a part-time employee and then went full-time. He also runs a towing company.

Ken can’t choose the one thing that he loves most about working at RAPS.

“It’s a tossup between the cats and the people,” he says. “I love them both. Everyone gets along here. It’s like a big family. When you come here, you could say it’s like coming home.”

He does have a least favourite part of the job. Three times now, Ken has been the guy who has taken Sanctuary cats on their final trip to the veterinarian.

“I go over to the hospital with her cat and I hold them in my arms when they catch their last breath,” he says. This is, sadly, a familiar experience for him. Over the years, he has held at least six of his own cats during their final moments.

Right now, Ken and Lisa have two dogs and two cats at home.

When he’s not caring for the animals at home or at RAPS, or doing repairs and anything that needs doing, Ken can be found reading.

“You could say I’ve got my own library at home,” he says. “I’ve probably got anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 books – all fiction.”

“Ken is such a vital and integral part of the RAPS family,” says Eyal Lichtmann, RAPS CEO. “Anything that needs done, he’s the guy. He keeps every department of the organization ticking. If Ken didn’t exist, we would have had to invent him. The best part is everything he does is with immense love for the animals”.