A group of students from a Graham High School program spend every Tuesday of the school year volunteering at Barely Used Pets, an animal sanctuary/shelter located at 844 Jackson Hill Road in Urbana. Their work included the assembly of eight new kennels on January 5. The large kennels were purchased through a community fundraising effort that raised over $5,500 for the animal shelter around Christmas.
“We asked for a Christmas blessing,” said kennel manager Jeretta Aldridge. “Instead of people giving food or things like that, we asked for money to replace our kennels. The kennels were over seven years old, had been used in the temporary facility, and had been purchased secondhand at the time. We asked for new ones as they were really falling apart. They were probably 10 years old at least. We have been so blessed by the community. The range was amazing.
According to Aldridge, they have received enough money to replace the small kennels as well as the large ones, but are looking for the right size to house 30-35 dogs. Once the right size is found, students from Mindy Lensman’s class will help put them together under the supervision of Kennel Maintenance Manager Greg McClure.
“Mindy not only teaches kids how to get along in a workplace, but she teaches them manners, how to talk to adults, how to get along in situations,” Aldridge said. “It’s just amazing what she does with these kids and the relationship she has with them. It is such a blessing for them to be here with us.
“We all want to give back to the community, and I’ve known Miss Jeretta for a while, and she’s a person who gives back to the community,” Lensman said. “What better place than to work with Miss Jeretta and an animal shelter. I have students who are later interested in careers with animals, so when we do enclaves we look at all the different avenues. We go to nursing homes. We go to the YMCA for daycare. We’re trying to grow to reach… where they’d like to be after graduation. A lot of these kids want to do animal care, so that’s another reason to come here.
Lensman said that in addition to learning how to use a key, his students learn skills such as communication, problem solving and self-development while completing simple tasks for the shelter.
Barely Used Pets shelters stray cats and dogs, helps reunite owners with their lost pets, and has helped people who have faced domestic violence and homelessness get their pets home. For more information, contact Barely Used Pets at 937-869-8090.
From left, Graham High School junior Wyatt Drown, senior Shane Meyer, senior Lauryn Tully, transition coordinator Mindy Lensman and kennel manager Jeretta Aldridge stand in front of the kennels they assembled Jan. 5 .
Graham High School Transition Coordinator Mindy Lensman supervises two of her students building kennels at Barely Used Pets on Jan. 5.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304