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Friday, October 24, 2014 | Last updated: 6:30pm

UA's 2013 Cats in the Community Day to help Elizabeth's Health Center



UA students will gain experience and give back at an annual event that aims to help a local non-profit organization.

Each year the University of Arizona partners with a different local non-profit organization and plans an “extreme makeover” day where students, faculty and friends come together to help paint, build, recycle, remodel, refurbish and improve anything the location would otherwise not be able to accomplish. St. Elizabeth’s Health Center has been chosen as the project partner for the 2013 Cats in the Community Day scheduled for March 2.

St. Elizabeth’s is a medical center that provides health and dental care for people without insurance. The majority of its staff consists of volunteer physicians, dentists and nurses who offer basic medical services. The center also offers newborn care, chronic disease management, health education and nutritional services.

“We feel so privileged to be your selected recipient,” said Jane Bakos, executive director at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center. “It will make such a difference for our patients and staff and it is something we wouldn’t be able to do on our own.”

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Photo courtesy of Sheila McGinnis Volunteers participated in the 2012 Cats in the Comunity event, which helped the World Care Civilian Emergency Relief Center.

The goal of the day is to give back to the community, educate volunteers on local needs and create a sense of pride within the UA population.

“We give their whole place a face-lift and you get to work with people you want to work with,” said Sheila McGinnis, UA director of outreach and community partnership and head of Cats in the Community Day.

The event lasts all day and around 300 volunteers help renovate. Volunteers choose from one of three shifts during the day and are assigned to specific projects pertaining to the needs of the facility. The event provides food and fun activities, alongside the work projects, to ensure that participants enjoy the day and benefit personally from the experience, according to McGinnis.

University professors are also finding creative ways to get their students involved in this annual event in ways that help the organizations and give students real-world practice.

Jackson Boelts, a UA art professor, conducts an annual project for his art classes that requires students to design interiors, wall graphics, furniture and flooring for the chosen non-profit organization. Students work on their projects for more than four months and come March help the volunteers renovate using their designs.

“Everybody wins in this case,” Boelts said. “All the students win, they’re really excited that day. It’s just a wonderful experience to see the people’s faces, the little kids’ faces or the patients’ faces when they come in and see the facility for the first time.”

University department involvement is based on the needs of the location chosen. In the past, the engineering department volunteered its skills to the community event by creating shape structures and other objects for the specific location.

“It’s just such a rewarding experience,” Boelts said. “I don’t know how the students could ask for a better project.”


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