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St. Bonaventure University

SBU@SPCA provides students a chance to serve the community with a homey feeling

Nov 20, 2020 | By Mike Hogan, '21

To Alice Miller Nation, SBU@SPCA has a two-fold purpose. 

Each week, a group of St. Bonaventure University students visit Cattaraugus County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a place many abandoned or relinquished animals call home. At the shelter, the students walk dogs, play with cats and help clean animal cages, among other things. Pictured_Kaitlin and shelter cat

Miller Nation, director of SBU’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern, said it also enriches students involved with the program and gives them a much-needed sense of home. 

“You can’t bring your pets with you. I know when my college kids come home, yeah they say hi to me, but they’re in the arms of the dog just as fast as they are anything else,” Miller Nation said. “I think it offers great comfort to them. Everyone comes back from the SPCA with a smile on their face. They love taking care of the animals and just getting out to get some fresh air.”

Kaitlin Sinclair, a member of SBU@SPCA and an English and adolescence education double-major at the university, said she visits the Cattaraugus County SPCA at least once a week. Sinclair said she enjoys her visits because she feels it benefits her mental health. She thinks the animals look forward to the visits as well. 

“It makes me feel pretty good, just knowing you're making a difference,” Sinclair, from Baldwinsville, New York, said. “This is my first year of being involved. I have gone every Sunday so far and sometimes during the week. 

Playing with kittens at the SPCA“The animals are in a good place, but it’s important we spend some time with them just so they know people do care for them. Even if they aren’t human, they do have a soul.”

Harjaap Kathuria, a sophomore from Sterling, Virginia, explained that his weekly visits to the SPCA are so enjoyable, it often does not feel like community service. 

“It allows me to serve in some way,” he said. “It also doesn’t feel like community service because it’s really relaxing and provides an outlet after a stressful week at school. It’s a win-win for me. It’s really enjoyable and we all have fun there.”

This year, to help raise money and awareness for SBU@SPCA, the FCSC will host #GivingTuesdayatBonas, a one-day fundraising event on December 1.

Miller Nation said it costs approximately $150,000 to run the many social justice, advocacy and service programs under the FCSC’s umbrella, including SBU@SPCA. She said raising $40,000 on December 1 will help the FCSC close the gap in funding vital programs. 

The community is invited to visit www.sbu.edu/GivingTuesdayatBonas on December 1 to learn more and to make a contribution.

Among other things, donations to the FCSC will help cover important costs such as fuel, oil changes and lease payments for the van used to transport students to and from the animal shelter. 

Much like the SBU@SPCA, contributions also serve a two-fold purpose. While donations to the FCSC help cover many costs, Miller Nation said they mean more to students involved with programs such as SBU@SPCA more than some may think. 

“Donations also cover normalizing a student's life at college a little bit, in addition to the real practical things of paying for the van and gas and oil changes and those kinds of things,” Miller Nation said. “It allows students to do things that they love to do.”