Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Valuable Learning Experience

We believe that we have learned many valuable lessons through our service project this year. Some have been basic, such as how to best serve the needs of the animals we work with; others have been more personal as we learned leadership skills. Although we all have pets, it has been a very different experience to work with animals at the shelter. These animals were not familiar with us and we were not familiar with them unless they had been there for a while, so sometimes it was more of a challenge to work with them. It was disheartening to think about the tough lives that some of these animals had experienced prior to coming to CARE.

Although we were usually unable to volunteer together as we would have liked to, our leadership skills have greatly improved. We still had to use teamwork when we worked with other volunteers to accomplish the tasks that needed to be done. We also had to learn accountability - we were expected to volunteer at the same time every week, to ensure that there would be enough volunteers at all scheduled shifts; additionally, we needed to each complete our 15 hours of service. Each of us ended up surpassing the 15-hour requirement. Through these many hours of volunteering, we often had to step outside our comfort zones. We learned that we needed to act confident around the dogs, even if we didn't feel that way, so the dogs would not sense our discomfort and become more rowdy. Also, volunteering at CARE involved a lot of poop. Whether it was in the back kennels where they sleep, outside in the gravel parking lot where they walk, or in the front cages where the public can look at the dogs, poop was almost everywhere. Cleaning it up isn't fun, but it's a necessity and a part of the job.

Our project that we proposed was not much different than what we actually ended up doing this year. We each volunteered weekly and assisted CARE in any way that we could. We did originally plan to hold a few events, such as a possible clothing drive for the CARE Thrift Store, but it was much more difficult to get all four of our group members together in order to plan event such as this, despite living in the same house. We did not anticipate this difficulty.

Overall, we all feel very fortunate to have participated in the Summit Leadership Community here at Drury, and are glad that we were able to help make a difference in the lives of animals. We have all learned lessons and had experiences this year that we will never forget.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Monthly Update - March

March was a very hectic month for us. With spring break right in the middle, it definitely threw us off from our regular routines. Caitlin and Cathy have usually been trying to volunteer on Saturdays, but with spring break taking up two Saturdays and Easter/NCAA Final Four the next weekend, it was hard to volunteer much that month.

 Another thing that was impacted by spring break was our plan to hold a clothing drive. Spring break really snuck up on us and suddenly we wanted to plan something; problem was that we are never all in the same place at the same time, despite us all living in the same house. With four separate class and work schedules, this is hardly surprising. We do try to capitalize on the time we have all together, though.

However, we are considering some other options before the end of the year. We haven't used any of our budget, so we were thinking about some sort of garage sale or bake sale, or a combination of both, plus the clothing drive. We realize that we really need to start thinking about this so that we don't run out of time like we have before. We are going to be meeting with our faculty adviser and community adviser within the next week, so hopefully that will be helpful.

Cathy feels like lately she hasn't been very useful when she is volunteering. She goes at 10:00; the first volunteer shift begins at 8:00, so by the time 10:00 rolls around, there isn't much to do because it's all been taken care of. She made a lot of videos, though. After 7 months of volunteering with the same people, Deidre feels that she and her fellow volunteers are beginning to develop a routine, which is allowing them to work more quickly and effectively.  Caitlin has switched to a new shift, volunteering from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.  She is enjoying it because it involves different activities than last semester, and it allows her to interact with the dogs more. Kayla is volunteering the same shift as last semester and has definitely set up a routine. Due to a recent work schedule change, she is now able to work a full two hours on Friday mornings making her impact just that much greater. There have been some staff changes and it has allowed her to meet new people and experience different working environments within the same context. Overall, this semester has been wonderful thus far with absolutely no regrets!

And a little secret: Kayla has begun thinking about the possibility of adopting and rescuing an animal in the next few upcoming months! :D Opinions? Fuzzy, cuddly feline or loving, spunky pup?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monthly Update - February

Not a whole lot has been going on so far. We've all been volunteering once a week, and not that much has changed from last semester. One thing we have noticed, though, is that a lot of the animals have not been staying as long as they used to. Last semester, we could remember some animals that were at the shelter week after week. It was good news to see so many empty cat cages last week. Another thing that has been a change for some of us is that we are now volunteering on different days and different time periods, so we are learning new jobs that go along with those times. We also were planning to try and volunteer together this semester, but that hasn't worked out as well either. It seems that none of us are ever free at the same time, and there are only certain time periods where volunteers are needed.

One experience that I (Cathy) had was when there was an event in the evening, and I was volunteering that morning. They hired a groomer to come and give the dogs baths so they would be clean for the event. For some reason, the groomer decided that I should wash the dogs by myself, when the only dog I've ever washed in my life is my own and he already knows me so it's not that bad. This was a different issue though, because these dogs don't know me that well and probably have never had a bath before. I was a little bit aggravated about that because I thought it would be the groomer's job to wash the dogs, and she just kind of left me alone. She even gave me her special smock/shirt so I wouldn't get as wet. And then she went to do something else.

In the first few weeks of this semester I (Caitlin) was bitten for the first time by a dog. I was walking all of the dogs that day because I was the only volunteer at that time. It wasn't anything horrendous or horrible, but it hurt afterwards and was bruised. In a way, it helps me in a sense to get over my fear of dogs. I am afraid of larger dogs, and will at times avoid walking them. Now, however, I have experienced one of the worst things about larger dogs, and can now be more confident around them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Still Going Strong

This semester has been a crazy one!  But the one constant was volunteering at CARE.  You could say the dogs made my busy week relaxing.  I’m already an animal person, but I have my preferences (Golden Retriever, Labradors and sometimes German Shepherds).  As an individual, I accomplished an open-mind to other breeds of dogs, and the ability not to take one home.  There was a Golden Retriever puppy there for at least three months, and it was hard for me not to take him home.  Luckily, he has been happily adopted!

Even though we volunteered separately, the group accomplished most of what we planned.  We even overcame a small conflict between us.  We also communicate important events, dates and messages via our white board that is conveniently set up in place where everyone can see it on a daily basis.  Some positive outcomes have been that some of the members in the group built their confidence with the other animals and that we are able to resolve our conflicts.

I believe that in the spring we should voice our main/important concerns and conflicts before they build up, even if they seem small to someone else.  I look forward to seeing what else we can do to help CARE run.

~Deidre R. Hardy~

Pictures can be seen in the “pictures” tab

Looking back and looking forward

This semester, we have accomplished a lot as a group and individually. As a group, we have shown that we can successfully create our own service project and follow through with it. We were all able to complete our 15 hours of service, and each of us actually were able to do more than 15.

What I have learned: This semester, I have learned about all the hard work that it takes in order to run a non-profit organization like CARE so smoothly. I was amazed about how they operate completely off of donations from the community and with help from volunteers, with only about 3 or 4 actual staff members. I have also learned about how cruel people can be to animals, and simply not care about them, because we heard a lot of sad stories about how the animals ended up at the shelter. But I have also met many wonderful staff members and volunteers who do the very best they can for the animals, which is nice to see the passion that they have for their work.

Positive outcomes: For me, it was nice for me to get away from school life and focus on something other than myself for 2 hours each week. It's easy to get caught up in my homework and work, and I get so busy that I never stop to slow down and refocus. When I went to the shelter, I would forget about whatever I needed to do that night or any problems I was having and I would focus on the animals and taking care of them. Also, I became friends with a woman named Lori who I would always talk to while we walked the dogs, and it was really nice. Besides those things, of course a positive outcome was that I got to help alleviate some of the jobs that the people at the shelter needed to do, by contributing some extra help.

In the spring: I want to focus on volunteering even more hours than I did this semester (21.75), which I should be able to do because this semester had a lot of breaks. I also want to help with more mobile adoptions when I can, and help bring awareness about CARE to the Drury community. We could do this by having a clothing drive for the thrift store, or by doing another event such as bringing dogs to Drury so everyone can get a chance to interact with them!

I am looking forward to next semester!


(P.S. Photos can be found on the "Pictures" tab)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Puppy and Kitten Filled Semester = A Pretty Darn Good One!

Over the past four months each member in my group has set out to experience new things, volunteer at a new place and interact with new people. As a whole we have discussed and feel as though we have not really had a chance to grow as a group - via volunteering - since we all go at different times. We have, however, crossed some major milestones in living together and that in itself is HUGE!
Making adjustments no matter how big or small can be, simply put, a pain in the butt! As busy college students we all thrive on routine and moving in with a new group of girls - even knowing them prior - is anything but routine. We have definitely overcome the small things such as laundry schedules and maintaining a good volume level when others are studying and /or sleeping.As far as issues arising, the biggest one would have to be the cleaning schedule and maintaining open communication. As a group we have set together numerous times and expressed our feelings, thoughts, and ideas. We have always managed to come up on common ground and find a solution and that is such a great feeling!
Next semester we plan to do more volunteering and activities together instead of independently.
We plan to do the following:
*Volunteer in pairs - possibly even switching now and then to get everyone interacting more
*Organize a clothing drive for the CARE thrift store
*Organize a penny drive
We have so many ideas in the works and we have decided, after gaining a better understanding of what we are doing, that we can do more with our time and resources than what we did this past . It just took some time to really get comfortable and confident in what we were doing.
Individually I would say I have definitely stepped up my responsibility. I juggle three jobs and 20 credit hours here at Drury University and yet I still love the hour and a half a week I get to donate to CARE and spend with the animals. To do this I sacrifice my Friday mornings and DO NOT get to sleep in - for a college student to give up sleep willingly, they must really like what they are doing! I have made new friends and taken on new responsibilities. Most importantly, I am still working on visualizing the future and what I would like to do. My group and I have set goals for next semester and we are not even there yet. I feel as though sometimes it is hard to say just what you will do without being there in the moment. It is a pretty amazing feeling to set your mind to things - things that you do voluntarily - and watch yourself accomplish them.
The four of us have grown so much since August and I am looking forward to the next semester to begin. We may not be changing the world on a large scale but we are changing the lives of individual animals and other volunteers and making an impact that is HUGE to them and that is all we can really ask for. That is all we need to have job well done.

(Pictures are located in the picture section if you want to see what we have been up to with our little furry friends! Please check them out! )


Accomplishing So Much More than I Thought I Would!

Volunteering at C.A.R.E. this semester has been a great, eye-opening experience.  Before I started volunteering at C.A.R.E., I had the initial expectation that I was going to be walking dogs, feeding animals, and cleaning.  At C.A.R.E., I do these things, but through volunteering, I have learned and gained many things beyond those simple tasks. 

The heart breaking stories and places where the animals come from has helped me to gain a greater appreciation for those who fight animal cruelty, and even for my own pets at home.  Each animal that comes through C.A.R.E. has its own story, and each one is more surprising than the last.  I hope throughout life that I will take this greater appreciation with me and help others understand and have that same feeling

Also through volunteering at C.A.R.E., I have become more confident when working with animals.  Larger dogs scare me, and my first few weeks at the shelter were tough when having to walk the bigger dogs.  However, through continued practice and time I have gained more confidence when working with the larger dogs and even the smaller dogs.   Even despite claw scratchings from a few cats, I still have developed a better confidence when working with all of the animals. 

I think the largest accomplishment my group has made is not bringing home any animals with us.  Seeing new faces every week comes along with a round of “Can we take it home?”  to which we always have to say no.  However, I think each of us have become comfortable with the shelter and we know what tasks we have to accomplish and the best way to complete them.  The first few weeks of volunteering at the shelter required asking lots of questions and being shown how to do things.  But now we each have mastered the best ways to complete the tasks at the shelter and as soon as we get there, we can immediately know what to do and can be more time effective in getting the jobs done.  This allows more time to play with and get to know the animals better.

In the coming semester, we are planning to have more campus involved activities such as possibly having a clothing drive, a penny war, and even bring dogs to campus during finals.  We are hoping that because we have gotten more comfortable and confident when volunteering at the shelter, that we can focus more on promoting and creating events on Drury’s campus.  I am very excited to see what the next semester has in store for me and our group when volunteering at C.A.R.E., and I can’t wait.

-Caitlin Lauer