Traveling to Honduras for senior service project has been a long-standing tradition for a handful of Althoff Catholic students every year for more than a decade. Cal, Matthew and Natalyn are among a group of current seniors that had been eagerly awaiting their opportunity to serve in Honduras for months. When the news came that this year’s trip would have to be cancelled due to unrest in the country, students were disappointed and left scrambling to find another service project. Cal, Matthew and Natalyn ended up finding their opportunity at the Belleville Area Humane Society.
“I went into this experience with low expectations, because originally we were supposed to go to Honduras and that’s something I was very excited about,” said Natalyn ’18. “After our first day at Belleville Area Humane Society, I was completely inspired by the work they do. They are doing an amazing job of being proactive and keeping animals from ending up at their facility in the first place. The projects we have been assigned have given us a real opportunity to be part of their work.”
In the first two weeks of their project, Cal, Matthew and Natalyn have helped develop a pilot community outreach program focused on educating people in the community on proper animal care. They have researched and created a checklist to include in a goody bag for outreach volunteers to distribute in communities at risk for animal neglect. Does your animal have access to appropriate food, clean water and shelter in extremely hot or cold conditions? Is your pet spayed or neutered? Does your pet have regular veterinary check-ups? “Unfortunately, some people in our community cannot afford these things,” said Cal. “We were able to create a list of resources for things like reduced veterinary care. The goal is to help people keep their animals so they do not end up at the Humane Society.”
The students were also tasked with creating a page on the Humane Society’s website with information about animal cruelty. The page highlights information about the definition of animal cruelty, which encompasses both abuse and neglect. It also provides resources informing the community of the measures they can take if they suspect someone is abusing their animal. “We researched laws from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and picked out the ones that would be most helpful for people looking into the correct treatment of their pets,” said Natalyn.
In addition to assisting in creating resources for the community, the students also had the opportunity to participate in the shelter’s Best Friend ‘til Forever (BFtF) program. “The BFtF program is basically a sponsorship program for animals who may be overlooked for adoption,” said Matthew. “I chose Minerva as my BFtF because she came right over to me and sat in my lap. She is probably one of the nicest cats I have ever seen and I know she would be the perfect pet for any home wanting a cat.”
“As a 1986 graduate of Althoff Catholic High School and President of the Belleville Area Humane Society’s Board of Directors, I am thrilled that we have three Althoff seniors doing their service project at the shelter,” said Susan Skinner. “I know this also means a lot to the other five members of the shelter’s board who are also Althoff graduates. Our staff has been highly impressed with the students’ desire to learn and really contribute to our mission. Cal, Matthew and Natalyn are an excellent example of the caliber of students at Althoff.”
Fun Fact: Six of the shelter’s ten board members are Althoff Catholic alums!
Kristina Boron ’04
David Padgett ‘03
Shelley Tribout Korves ‘84
Steve Seibert ‘98
Kathy Ames Simmons ‘84
Susan Basinski Skinner ‘86