CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Crystal McGuire picks a cat up off the floor of Last Hope Animal Rescue (182316th Avenue Southwest) and brings it up to her eye level, cradling it in her arms.
"Whaddya think, huh?" she asks the cat rhetorically. She smiles, knowing there's no response coming. "You're a good boy."
Crystal's seven years of volunteer work at Last Hope have evolved into something special. She has acted as the cat intake coordinator for the shelter since it started in 2015.
"We have more cat adoptions than we do dog adoptions this year. That's a first for us," Last Hope dog intake coordinator Amanda Rushton says. "It wouldn't be happening without Crystal right now."
The nurturing comes naturally for Crystal.
"It's a passion of mine, I guess," she says. "I feel like I'm making a difference."
That sentiment led Crystal - who is married with a four-year-old daughter - to want to do even more. This time though, she wanted to help her extended family in a big way.
Crystal wanted to be a surrogate for her aunt and uncle, who were having difficulty conceiving.
"We offered to carry for them. They decided to take another route," she says, noting that the couple are now in the adoption process. "My husband and I talked about it and decided to look into an agency and see if we could get matched up with another couple."
The nurturing nature was undeterred. Crystal was willing to carry a child for complete strangers.
"Just seeing what my aunt and uncle had gone through and knowing the struggles that they had trying to conceive just kind of inspired me to do that for someone else who went through the same thing," she says. "It just made sense for us to keep going down that path for somebody."
Crystal gave birth to a healthy baby girl in May - and is staying in touch with the family she has helped start.
"We've got plans to meet down the road and I get to see the little girl grow up," she says.
Constantly nurturing and constantly growing. It's all Crystal McGuire seems to know.
"Crystal's a rare breed," Amanda says. "There's not a lot of young women out there that can juggle life and passion projects and all the things that she juggles as well as she does."
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