Tag Archives: Volunteer

Be a Part of #GivingTuesday!

giving tuesday2Today, Ursuline College is joining a national day of generosity, #GivingTuesday. It is a day when you can make a big impact on helping students to achieve their educational and career goals by emphasizing the whole person and providing personalized attention within a liberal arts higher educational environment.

Give small – please consider donating $10 to your college and alma mater, Ursuline College. Donate here.

H.E.L.P Malawi Sewing journey: day one


by Molly Sabolsky, Nursing Student

I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this first day at the school was. We entered the yard of the school and we were greeted by so many beautiful, smiling faces. It was overwhelming – so many of the children wanted to touch our hands.

I think the theme of this trip is “go with the flow.” After setting up the sewing room, we were told that we would not have power until the next day, so our sewing machines were not going to work. We switched up our game plan and decided to teach our hand sewing lesson instead.

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Spring livin’ suggestions: service learning


Alright – we are in the final stretch of winter. (We promise!) Only 9 more days ’till it is officially spring. To help you get ready for the season, we are sharing our spring 2014 suggestions – drawing inspiration from Women’s History Month, of course!

Service learning is defined as a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful community service. Many of our students are participating in service learning trips over spring break, including the Art Therapy and Counseling Service Trip to Ecuador and H.E.L.P. Malawi trip.  You can lend a helping hand too – in your own backyard! Cleveland is full of spring related volunteering opportunities, whether you walk a dog or clean up a park, every little thing can make a difference.

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After the Lecture: A Night in the Life of an NYC Urgent Activist

My first blog entry was supposed to focus on the large-scale protest of New York City Animal Control practices. This, however, seemed to make no sense out of the context of the nightly war that activists for New York City’s pets wage every day of the year. So, this entry will, instead, show you how I have spent my nights since I began to work for the pets of New York City. philosophy13

Animal activists engage in rescue work because each year in the United States about four million pets are killed in shelters, that is about 10,000 a day or one pet every ten seconds or so. In thirty-one states, including our own, gas chambers are still used . The vast majority of the dogs killed are either American Pit Bull terriers or Chihuahuas. Many places, including Cleveland, have implemented many No Kill policies but some cities, such as NYC, are far behind in their treatment of shelter pets.  philosophy12

Activists have created a network of posting and cross-posting pets on Facebook and other social media. This allows us to save thousands of pets everyday across the U.S. NYC activists use this network to reach out in order to find foster homes and adopters for the pets each night.

We know which pets to share each night because the demands of the Urgent volunteers have led the shelter administration to provide us with lists of the dogs and cats that are to be killed the next day; a barbaric practice, indeed. For NYC pets, however, it is progress. Many of the pets on the nightly list come from the hundreds of dogs and cats who are not available for the public to see when they come to the shelter to adopt. The Urgent Facebook page is the only place from which these pets can be seen. To date, NYC Urgent activists, including myself, have saved the lives of over 16,000 dogs and 11,000 cats. Here are tonight’s lists:

Every evening the to be destroyed list is posted, sometimes as early as 6 PM, sometimes as late as 9 PM. and we spring into action, sharing each pet on our own networking pages and in the many cross-posting groups on Facebook. We only have until 6 AM to save all of the cats and dogs who are on the list. Some of these pets can be reserved for adoption online, prior to 6 AM, others have been rated for New Hope rescues only. These pets can only be pulled by approved rescue groups. Pets end up with a New Hope rating for being very young, very old, sick, frightened, or for not being happy with the SAFER evaluation. SAFER evaluations consist, in part, of pinching the pet’s paw, poking the pet with a large plastic hand, giving the pet food that is then taken away by the large plastic hand, and giving the pet a toy and a raw hide that are then taken away by the plastic hand.

Each night we have to find donations to cover pull fees and vet bills for the pets who are pulled by rescues as well as fosters and adopters for each pet. While other shelters allow long distance adoptions and links to transport services, the NYC ACC does not. Pets generally cannot travel more than three hours away from NYC. This makes our work more difficult and can be very frustrating for those who want to help the pets. Tonight there are eleven dogs and puppies ranging in age from six months old to ten years old and thirty cats and kittens whose ages range between four weeks old and fourteen years old. While some of these pets were brought to the shelter because they were lost or homeless, many were brought here because of the breed ban in public housing or because their people were evicted or arrested or because they became sick or died. Many pets are also brought here by their guardians. The most common reason stated in NYC is that the person had “no time” for their pet. Some pets are kept at the shelter for months while some are added to the to be destroyed list after only two or three days.

We start by figuring out what each pet needs. We see who is rescue only and who can be adopted. We add up any pledges that each pet already has in place and check to see whether anyone has shown any interest in the pet. We post each and every pet to our own pages and to many groups as well, in hopes of attracting fosters or adopters for them, as well as pledges to cover the rescue costs. Activists and rescue workers get little sleep since we only have until 6 AM to find a place for each pet to go later in the day. Many times, particularly in Brooklyn, workers begin to kill the pets as soon as the deadline has passed so time is of the essence for us.

If we find someone who will commit to fostering a pet we have to also have each foster fill out applications for at least three of the approved rescue groups. This means that we also spend much time assisting prospective foster parents in choosing which rescues will be most likely to help that particular pet and with filling out the applications. If we find adopters for pets who are available for public adoption we assist them with the process of reserving the pet, paying the deposit, and filling out shelter applications. We also have to communicate with the rescues and entice them to help with the pet by showing them that we have raised enough money for the pet and that we have a committed foster or adopter available.

We often become attached to a pet, even over the internet. All together we have succeeded in saving the lives of over 27,000 pets just in NYC. One of my very favorite rescues was a Pit Bull terrier named Thomas who was the last lost pet from Hurricane Sandy. Together activists shared Thomas’s picture and story over 16,000 times before we found him a home in Baltimore.



The loss of our sweet Chopper was devastating for all of us and many people stopped their activism after he was killed. I’ll never understand how, in a city with over eight million people, not even one person would foster sweet Chopper, even for a few weeks.



Jake was another devastating loss for us. Sweet Jake had been shot by a policeman in his own apartment while his human was being arrested. He progressed with the volunteers and, by the time, he was gone, had taken to crawling on their laps and giving them kisses. Because Jake had lunged at the policemen who broke down the door to his apartment and forcibly took his human away, he was labeled aggressive. No pictures of videos of him snuggling with volunteers would change the minds of the shelter workers and, after having kept Jake in a cage for 23 ½ hours of every day for months, they killed sweet Jake with no warning to us. Many rescues had let the workers know that they were willing to pull Jake. When Jake came to the shelter he looked like this:



At the end he looked like this:



It is harder to save a pet then one would like to think. Before I began to engage in this kind of activism I thought that you could just show up and adopt. It is rarely so easy! I do, though, know that, while I can’t save the world, I CAN save the world for at least ONE pet! For now, as our sweet Emmit says ADOPT, DON’T SHOP!



After the Lecture: Service Trip to El Salvador

Students, faculty and alumnae from the Art Therapy and Counseling Department at Ursuline College are currently on a service trip in El Salvador. Read their blog below.

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El SalvadorFinal Blog: El Salvador Service Trip 2013 We began this service learning trip with the idea to immerse ourselves in another culture to see and be seen. It was our premise to experience the world as interconnected, and become more global citizens in the world. We hoped that this experience would be eye opening and that we could bring some joy to the children of Santo Domingo School in Chiltiupan, El Salvador. This experience did prove to be eye opening and more! The faculty, alumni and students were blessed with an “over the moon” reception of gratitude, made evident by multiple hugs, kisses and excitement in all the art and creative activities. The people we came in contact with were warm, authentic, and earnest in learning from all of us, as we were eager to learn from them.

The Ursuline students, alumni and staff quickly picked up Spanish phrases that made communication more viable. At times it was a comedic play of crazy charades in hopes of being understood. Nevertheless, love is a universal language, and it was felt in the students outreach and the heartfelt response. We successfully worked with approximately 150 children, from ages 5-17, painting, drawing, and creating all manner of craft projects. In addition, 6 murals were painted on the school walls with the support of the teens at Santo Domingo School, and this left a lasting mark for the children to remember our time together.

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El Salvador

Adding to the art making and work at the school, we visited extreme rural areas around Chiltiupan to get a better world view of the grim reality of poverty and its effects on individuals. We even went to a very small school on another mountain top and made a surprise visit. We went about entertaining these shocked children with the “hokie pokie” and then proceeded to teach an art therapy lesson of feeling expression. These particular children indicated to us how grateful they were for our “drop in” visit letting us know that they were honored because they are often forgotten about because of their remote location.

Toward the end of our trip, we toured the capital and were able to see the mural and memorial wall honoring the 75,000 people killed in the civil war. Sister Dorothy Kazel and the 3 other church women were listed on this wall, along with countless others who lost their lives fighting for freedom.

At the end of the day, we have been given a bigger gift than we could ever have brought. The gift was one of gratitude. No matter how poor any of the native El Salvadoran people were, there was always enough joy for a smile and an invitation to sit and talk, or come into their home, no matter how humble. Surely our time was well spent in the service of humanity, and as we helped, we received tenfold.

Saturday April 20 We just finished a beautiful breakfast while looking at the ocean. Heading to the airport soon. We all have mixed feelings of joy and sadness. Our hearts have been opened in new ways and we will forever be grateful for this experience.

Friday April 19 Our last day in El Salvador today. We are heading to the city of San Salvador to go to the art museum and the market; then some time at the beach!

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El SalvadorThursday April 18 Our last day at the school. Bittersweet. The children and the students have been enriched by this experience. A 5th grader in Cleveland had donated all her stuffed animals for our trip. We gave them out yesterday and it was axing to witness the excitement and joy!

Our students are a marvel and have taken the voice, vision and values ideals into practice. They have been so generous of heart and spirit, truly amazing.

Wednesday April 17 Monday was an exciting day. Children at Santo Domingo School were overjoyed with our presence and art materials. We worked hard at practicing Spanish phrases and giving out lots of hugs! Students really seemed to gain experience in multicultural awareness and communication. We are off again this morning for a 9 hour day! Adios!

Sunday April 14 Arrived Saturday. After the memorial, Sr. Rose pulled to the side of the road for some cool refreshing coconut juice. The woman at the stand whacked the coconuts with a machete. She put straws into the top of the coconut so we could drink the juice. Later she sliced them open and we ate the coconut meat! Delicious!

At the start of every endeavor it is important to ask, “Why are we doing this, and why do we want to do this?” We as students and faculty at Ursuline College wish to come to El Salvador to help those in need. After searching for different locations to provide Art Therapy and Counseling for people of the world who need help, it appeared that El Salvador was one of the best choices due to Ursuline College and Ursuline Sisters connection to El Salvador in providing service work and help over the last 30+ years.

Because we are Art Therapists, we also know that art has no barriers and a common language is not needed for the expressive healing of art making and art psychotherapy to be of benefit. As faculty and members of the department of Graduate Art Therapy and Counseling, we also wanted to find a way for our students to become global helpers and healers, and to be able to see the world in a more realistic light. This reality will help to create a mature and seasoned therapist in the world, wherever the student ultimately chooses to practice counseling and art therapy. To see and be seen are core needs in every human beings life, we are at the very least hoping to provide a lens of understanding and deep compassion for those in El Salvador who we work with by really “seeing” the essence of human suffering, courage, and resilience.

Art Therapy and Counseling Trip to El Salvador

We wish to serve the children in El Salvador who feel disenfranchised and unempowered. Those who have experienced loss, grief, trauma, stress, depression, hopelessness and despair are our target group; however, all are welcome to experience art therapy and counseling groups, sessions, and projects as Sr. Rose and Sr. Irma see fit. Those who are attending from the U.S. include students Mari Ballentine, Stephanie Ferenc, Diane Fleisch-Hughes, Rachel Lyman, Steve Macek, Emma Pitchford, Nema Saleem, Brittany Spaulding, Sharon Stupp, Ashley Tilberg, Nicole Topp, UC alum Areka Foster, and faculty Megan Seaman, Katherine Jackson and Sister Kathleen Burke.