A group of students from a Graham High School program are spending every Tuesday of the school year volunteering at Barely Used Pets, an animal rescue/shelter located at 844 Jackson Hill Road in Urbana. Their work included assembling eight new dog kennels on Jan. 5. The large kennels were purchased thanks to a community fundraising effort that pulled in over $5,500 for the animal shelter around Christmas.
“We asked for a Christmas blessing,” said kennel Manager Jeretta Aldridge. “Instead of people donating food or things like that we asked for money to replace our kennels. The kennels were seven-plus years old, they had been used at the temporary facility, and they had been purchased used then. We asked for new ones because they were really falling apart. They were probably 10 years old at least. We were so blessed by the community. The outreach was unbelievable.”
According to Aldridge, they received enough money to replace the small dog kennels as well as the large, but are looking for the right size to house 30-35 dogs. Once the right size is found, the students from Mindy Lensman’s class will help assemble them under the supervision of Greg McClure, in charge of kennel maintenance.
“Mindy not only teaches the kids how to get along in a workplace, but she teaches them manners, how to talk to adults, how to handle themselves in situations,” said Aldridge. “It’s just amazing the things that she does with these kids, and the rapport that she has with them. It’s been such a blessing for them to be here with us.”
“We’re all about giving back to the community, and I’ve known Miss Jeretta for quite some time, and she is a person who gives back to the community,” said Lensman. “What better place than working with Miss Jeretta as well as an animal shelter. I’ve got students who are interested in careers with animals later on, so when we’re doing enclaves we’re looking at all different avenues. We go to nursing homes. We go to the YMCA for daycare. We try to expand so that we touch on … where they would like to be after graduation. A lot of these kids want to be in animal care, so that’s another reason to come here.”
Lensman said that in addition to learning how to use a wrench, her students are learning skills like communication, problem-solving and self-fulfillment while completing simple tasks for the shelter.
Barely Used Pets houses stray cats and dogs, helps reunite owners with their lost pets and has helped people who have faced domestic violence and homelessness to house their animals. For more information, contact Barely Used Pets at 937-869-8090.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304