By Richard H. Miller, Center for Distance and Professional Education
Trisha Flaig, left, with Rambo and Georgia Martinell at the Second Chance Animal thrift store in Pullman. (Photo by Richard H. Miller, WSU Online)
PULLMAN, Wash. - It was a match made on Craigslist.
Trisha Flaig is a Pullman dental assistant earning her accounting degree through WSU Online. A fall 2011 course required community service, but she had trouble finding a volunteer opportunity. So she placed a Craigslist ad with the headline "Volunteer available for anything.”
In larger cities, that online ad might have brought unwelcome responses. Pullman, however, is a wholesome place, and Flaig received only one email.
Georgia Martinell grew up in an isolated Idaho town. Her best friends were animals: goats and dogs and cats.
"When I started working at vet clinics,” she said, "I realized we weren’t caring for them very well.”
She started the Second Chance Animal
thrift store in Orofino, Idaho to help low-income people provide food, shelter and medical care for pets. Last fall, she opened a Pullman branch at 370 S. Grand Ave., but needed help running it.
When Martinell answered Flaig’s ad, she got a lot more than she expected.
After Flaig logged enough hours for her course - Human Development 403, Families in Poverty - she decided to continue volunteering. She also got the thrift store added to the service learning list maintained by Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), ensuring a steady supply of future volunteers.
"Local community partners are like gold to us because they help our students develop, and we have so many Pullman-based students who want to do service,” said CCE Assistant Director Michael Schwartz-Oscar
The CCE has more than 1,000 community partners, he said, with about 200 on the Palouse. Last year, 7,385 WSU students gave 62,900 hours of service. That’s the equivalent of one person working eight hours a day for more than 21 years.
For Flaig and Martinell, those statistics don’t mean as much as one starving dog being given a bowl of kibble or one shivering dog finding shelter in a straw-lined doggie igloo.
"There are hungry people but there are also hungry animals,” Martinell said from behind the counter of her small Pullman shop, "and animals don’t have a voice to tell anybody that they’re hungry.”
Flaig listened from the edge of the counter, her dog Rambo in her arms.
"That makes me want to cry,” she said.
Richard H. Miller, Center for Distance and Professional Education, 509-335-5711, firstname.lastname@example.org
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