Monday, April 22, 2019

UIS graduate students raise funds to help veterans

Graduate students at the University of Illinois Springfield are fulfilling their semester assignment of engaging with the community in part by organizing a fundraising campaign to help veterans.

Students in the Social Justice and Advocacy class in the Human Development Counseling graduate program at UIS were given an assignment this semester to engage in the community.

One group of students in the class is raising money to donate to Joe Blankenship of Springfield, who is a certified dog trainer who trains service dogs for veterans for free.

 “Students within the class, I leave it very open for them, for the most part, to identify an issue that they’re interested in and to create and carry through an advocacy project,” said Holly Thompson, associate professor of human development counseling, who specializes in and co-coordinates the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Area.

“One group of students in my class this semester have identified, of course, the issue of serving veterans, especially with support and service animals as their topic of interest. In the organizing of this, they’ve done a wonderful job.”

The student group raising money for Blankenship had planned a Counselors with Tails 5k fun color run for Saturday, May 4, but had to cancel the event due to lack of registrants.

As of Friday morning, seven tickets were sold for the 5K, said Megan Finch, a member of the student group organizing the event. “We just haven’t had enough ticket sales in order to continue. We were trying to get 150, and we weren’t able to reach that goal,” said Finch, 29, who is in her last year of graduate studies and is currently interning with Helping Hands of Springfield, which serves the homeless.

“We’re already raising some funds on Facebook, and we’re accepting donations from people who have expressed interest in what we’re doing, so we’re still going to be making a donation to him. It just won’t be through the fundraising event. It’ll just be whatever we can raise on our own for him.”

The deadline for donating to benefit Blankenship is Saturday, May 4.

This story was published in The State Journal-Register on April 19, 2019.

Read the entire article online.