Three years ago, Melanie Limas An — then a seventh-grader at Carmel Valley Middle School but already interested in media — saw in an email from the San Diego House Rabbit Society that the organization was soliciting for a volunteer videographer. Melanie assumed they were looking for an adult.
However, Melanie was talented enough to handle the job and has done it well enough for the past three years that, in 2016, the sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy was named the San Diego chapter’s Volunteer of the Year.
Melanie attended the recent awards ceremony, which doubles as a celebration for all of the volunteers — this year it was at Dave & Busters — with no idea she was even being considered for the award. She was just having some fun.
“The volunteers got to hang out at the arcade and then there was a potluck; I was really happy I got to come and just relax with the other volunteers,” Melanie said. “Then the director of (the San Diego branch) of the House Rabbit Society started naming off nominees and people for different categories and eventually they called Volunteer of the Year. They called my name and I was shocked!”
But there was a good reason Melanie won out over college-age and adult volunteers, as more than 200 bunnies have been adopted since she began as in-house videographer, where her main duty is making videos of rabbits to upload to the organization’s YouTube channel. This allows families to preview the potential bunnies they may want to adopt before they come into the House Rabbit Society location in Kearney Mesa.
“We see young volunteers like Melanie as the future to the success of our organization,” said San Diego House Rabbit Society Board Director Patricia Mulcahy. “They do everything from the front office to the back bunny care. Her energy, creativity and enthusiasm paints a bright future.”
The videos can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/SDHRS
“I go in there every other Sunday and I get to take videos of the adoptable rabbits that they have,” Melanie explained. “It’s hard because each rabbit has its own personality. I try to get them to play or move around so that families can see how friendly or playful the bunnies can be. Sometimes they’ll come up and nudge the camera with their nose, which always makes an adorable shot.”
The two loves that Melanie brings together for her volunteer career can be traced back to mom Gloria Limas, a former news reporter who grew up in Texas with nearly 50 bunnies.
Melanie and her brother Danny, 13, each had pet rabbits as youngsters — though Snowy and Peanut Butter have passed on — and now the family, which also includes dad Kyong, has a bunny named Oreo.
As for her video skills, Melanie got started in a video program at Ocean Air Elementary School, where once a month they would put on a news broadcast for the entire school.
“I look back on it and I cringe because it’s not very good, but it was so much fun,” said Melanie, who then did a weekly news broadcast in middle school and is now working at CCTV at Canyon Crest. A straight-A student and accomplish tap dancer, Melanie has also been accepted to CCA’s prestigious cinema conservatory.
“I have so many more options available to me because of what I’ve done at the San Diego Rabbit Society,” the articulate young woman continued. “I really love volunteering there, I love helping the little rabbits, they are always so adorable and it’s the best volunteering career I could have.”
Melanie plans to be around rabbits for the rest of her life, and she is considering a career in psychiatry, if not filmmaking.