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Heaven-sent help: Union students give back to community

Junior Debra Howell bathes a puppy with an injured leg at the Jackson-Madison County Humane Society as part of Union's annual
Junior Debra Howell bathes a puppy with an injured leg at the Jackson-Madison County Humane Society as part of Union's annual "Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service." (Photo by Kyle Kurlick)

JACKSON, Tenn.Nov. 9, 2006 – After running behind schedule, coming across a car accident and getting lost a few times, Union University sophomore Katrina Parker and her group were worried they wouldn’t make it on time to Forest Cove Manor, a nursing home in Jackson, to visit with the residents.

“I was a little worried because the accident held us up some and because we made a few wrong turns,” Parker said, “But I knew we’d make it.”

Parker, along with several students from Union University, visited with the residents in the Alzheimer’s wing of Forest Cove Manor Nov. 8 to help them draw and color Thanksgiving cards shaped like a turkey. The students were serving at the nursing home as part of Union’s annual “Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.”

Every year, classes are canceled for one day, allowing students and faculty to participate in service projects around Jackson. The projects are a way for the campus to thank the community for its assistance to Union after a tornado struck the university in 2002. This year, about 600 students, faculty and staff worked on 60 projects in the community.

At Forest Cove Manor, another group, led by junior Bekah Bothwell, was also participating in a service project, raking leaves and doing other types of yard work. Several other projects led by university students and faculty also took place around the Jackson and Madison County area.

“The day went extremely well, and our students, faculty and staff were thankful to be able to serve alongside our community leaders in schools, social agencies and churches,” said Kimberly Thornbury, Union’s dean of students. “From taking care of animals at the Humane Society to tutoring and reading to children to completing much needed landscape work at non-profit organizations, our students had such an wide array of ways that they could use their gifts and skills and passions to serve and show kindness to others.”

Carole Cooper, activities director at Forest Cove Manor, was pleased with the results of the project.

“It was good for the patients to see young people, because they don’t get to every day,” Cooper said to the group after they were finished with the project.

Residents at Forest Cove also appeared to be happy for the chance to spend time with the students, as well as the time the students spent helping them make the cards.

“I liked the cards we made,” said Lornice Williams, resident at Forest Cove. “It makes me excited about Thanksgiving.”

Parker agreed that the project seemed to be a success, because the residents seemed to have fun visiting with her and the rest of the students while they made their cards.

“I think the project went really well,” Parker said. “I also think it gave the residents an opportunity to do something different. It’s not everyday young people come in to see them. The experience was new and out of the ordinary for the people there. I hope we brightened their week.”

At the Jackson-Madison County Humane Society, a group of Union students helped the no-kill shelter by walking dogs, playing with cats, giving baths to the animals and general cleanup around the facility.

Union junior Debra Howell said she chose the project because she recently did a photo story for a photography class on animal abuse.

“My heart just broke,” Howell said. “This is what I love.”

Misty Smith, the shelter’s secretary, was grateful for the help. Since the shelter is a non-profit organization, it receives no money from the government and relies on donations and volunteer help to keep operating.

“It’s heaven-sent, to be honest,” Smith said about the Union volunteer effort. “That’s when you know people have a good heart, when they do something like this without getting a penny.”

By Sarah McBroom (’09)
With additional reporting by Tim Ellsworth

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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