SARASOTA, FL – Two separate groups of middle school students involved in CYD’s SRQVolunteen training program spent six weeks this summer working on the problems of animal abuse and overcrowding in shelters. The youths, who are between the ages of 11-14 (entering 6-8th grade), assisted animal welfare efforts at Cat Depot and Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue.
The Gulf Gate class spent time at Cat Depot, where participants learned that there are more stray cats than dogs. SRQVolunteen youth specialist Emily Smith noted that it was heartbreaking too see so many cats locked up in cages, rather than in loving homes, but that the students were empowered by taking action on the animals’ behalf.
“These past few weeks have taught our students about taking leadership roles in the community,” Smith said. “We will remember that we were a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
The North Sarasota class volunteered on behalf of Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue. They raised money by collecting donations at Pet Supermarket and successfully applying to collect the coins in the fountain at UTC Mall. Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences 7th grader Samara Lee remarked that the project taught her and her peers how to work together and do outreach to solve problems in the community.
Sarasota Military Prep 8th grader Guadalupe Perez, 13, agreed. “We learned how to work together and we also learned very good leadership skills. I learned so many new things,” she said. “So many animals are in danger and we needed to help them! Giving our attention to these animals is very important, just like a human life.”
SRQVolunteen is designed to connect teens to volunteer service. Through participation in this program, middle and high school students earn community service hours while learning valuable employability skills such as team-building and problem-solving, improving interpersonal skills through teamwork and networking, and discovering their strengths, aptitudes and passions – all while supporting causes they feel passionately about and making a difference in our community.
The SRQVolunteen Training Program introduces middle school students to volunteerism and empowers them to become stewards of change. Participants flex their creativity and decision-making skills by designing a community service project in conjunction with, or for the benefit of, a local nonprofit. Each session, the teens focus on various issues such as hunger, homelessness, the environment, animal welfare and/or education; this program is offered three times per year, with sessions offered at various locations throughout Sarasota County.
Two more SRQVolunteen classes have just begun in late July. To sign up for an SRQVolunteen session this fall, contact Jasmine Akins, coordinator of volunteer programs, at (941) 922-5126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.