Local shelter helps homeless animals

By Joshua Patton

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Emily Craft, 21, a customer care associate at Providence Animal Center, kneels beside Oscar, a dog up for adoption. Photo by Joshua Patton

“Our mission is to save as many lives as possible,” said Emily Craft, 21, a customer care associate at Providence Animal Center, located in Media, Pa. “We do our best to help with overpopulation and the breeding of unwanted animals.”

Providence Animal Center is a non-profit, no-kill shelter that hosts a range of cats and dogs for adoption.

The center is run primarily by volunteers, and relies on donations to fund its programs.

“[Volunteers] will come in really early in the morning,” Craft said. “Then [the dogs] get fed, after the kennels are cleaned out.”

Despite the efforts of volunteers, according to Craft, there is still a problem with homeless animals around Delaware County.

“We don’t have an open access shelter in Delaware County,” Craft said. “So there’s really nowhere for them to go.”

Open access shelters, also known as open admission shelters, do not turn away any animals that are brought to their doors.

Experts say that six to eight million cats and dogs enter shelters each year, and about three million of them are euthanized, according to a report by The Humane Society of the United States.

In 2012, Delaware County SPCA underwent a format change and was renamed Providence Animal Center to fulfill its mission of being a no-kill shelter.

The Providence Animal Center’s webpage states, “We made the courageous change to become a lifesaving organization, which means no adoptable animal is put down.”

Craft said that by changing the name of the organization they wanted to break off all stereotypes.

Although Providence Animal Center still accepts surrenders, it no longer houses and euthanizes strays.

After the change in format, Delaware County formed the Animal Protection Board (APB) to handle issues concerning stray animals.

Originally, the goal of the APB was to establish an independent animal shelter, but instead they opted to make a deal with the Brandywine Valley SPCA, (BVSPCA) formerly Chester County SPCA, to handle stray animals.

But the problems were not over.

Delaware County Animal Control contracted with the BVSPCA to deliver strays, but then came under scrutiny for practices such as leaving animals inside strangers’ homes, according to a memorandum issued by the district court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.

In mid-March, earlier this year, the contract, known as the Stray Animal Agreement, was terminated.

According to a press release on Brandywine Valley SPCA’s website, “On March 15, 2016, the Delaware County Animal Protection Board (APB) announced that it was terminating the Stray Animal Agreement with the Brandywine Valley SPCA because the arrangement was ‘no longer financially feasible for either party.’”

The press release also stated that the BVSPA would still contract with local municipalities.

For someone who finds a stray, options are still limited.

According to Craft, where you go is dependent upon one’s municipality’s and police department’s procedures.

Those with strays can contact 911 and report a lost animal, go to a local veterinarian, or contact the BVSPCA, states the Animal Coalition of Delaware County’s webpage.

Organizations like Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly) house strays, but are also forced to euthanize.

According to an animal care data sheet put out by ACCT Philly, as of September 2016, they have taken in 17,913 animals and have live-released 13,362, resulting in 4,634 dead or missing animals.

For these shelters, and for people like Emily Craft, the problem is ongoing.

“There’s always a constant need for volunteers,” Craft said. “Even walking a dog for 20 minutes and putting him back in the kennel helps in a big way.”

Shelters are combating the problem by hosting events, adoption specials, and fundraisers.

“Bark in the Park” was one such event hosted by Providence Animal Shelter in Rose Tree Park on Oct. 29.

Attendees and their dogs could participate in a 5k run, along with a host of smaller contests, such as best ears, best tail wager, and best costume.

Other activities included music, face painting, animal microchipping and nail trimming.

“It’s one of the biggest fundraisers of the year,” Craft said.

Thomas Marchand, 29, ran the 5k with his dog Bailey during “Bark in the Park.”

“It goes for a good cause,” Marchand said. “It’s my dog’s exercise.”

During November, Providence Animal Center offers 50 percent off adoption fees for kittens and dogs over six months old.

“We’re not government funded by any means,” Craft said. “We’re all donation based.”

Nevertheless, because of fundraising efforts, Providence Animal Shelter is adding on a new wing.

“The shelter is really small and really outdated,” Craft said. “We’re expanding and making everything brand new.”

For animal rights activists like Craft, the fight continues.

“There’s definitely a problem,” Craft said. “I’m definitely passionate about it.”

Contact Joshua Patton at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Valley Youth helps homeless LGBTQ in need

By Justice Colmon

On Oct. 20 at the Marple campus, Valerie Johnson, assistant director of development at Valley Youth House and co-founder of “Couches Don’t Count” campaign held the “Valley Youth House” event.

The event, which focused on Valley Youth House, as well as the homeless LGBTQ population in Pennsylvania, was attended by more than 13 people.

According to Johnson, the organization’s mission is to “empower and strengthen the lives of children, youth, and families through inclusive programming that builds resilience and fosters growth and independence.”

Valley Youth House is located in 11 counties: Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia.

“Sometimes what you can do to help someone is to accept them for who they are, no matter their situation or background,” Johnson said while reflecting on their mission. “Acception and emotional support is the best you can do to help these people.”

Johnson explained that the school districts of Philadelphia did a study two years ago when they revealed that 4,000 of their students have experienced homelessness and almost 2,000 youth identified as LGBTQ are possibly living on the street.

“So Valley Youth House decided to start our own ‘Youth Count’ by searching during the afternoon, with some of our youth guiding us to places that they know their counterparts may be,” Johnson said. “By doing this we discovered that at least 50 percent of the youth we surveyed during the youth count are not living on the street. They’re couch surfing.”

To raise awareness of this situation, Valley Youth House created a campaign called “Couches Don’t Count” because couch surfing is not stable housing.

Johnson explains that the “Couches Don’t Count” campaign communicates with others by going to areas frequented by homeless people and positioning a couch outside with someone who looks homeless sitting on it. Doing so grabs people’s attention, thereby starting a conversation on homeless LGBTQ issues.

Along with the “Couches Don’t Count” campaign, there is also a “Pride Program,” a running program for LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia.

According to Valley Youth House’s website, “sheltering Pride is a giving program that supports the Pride Program by connecting donors oneon-one to youth experiencing homelessness. For as little as $5,600, you can provide rental support, life skills counseling and move-in essentials for a young person in need for six months.”

She explained that housing is one of the top needs for homeless LGBTQ, because “to have a job they need to have a house, and to have a house they need to have a job.”

“We have a lot of landlords that we work with, and they tell us when there are available apartments,” Johnson said.

Counselors go with youth to inspect the apartment and explain to them the things they are looking for, such as testing the heat, water, lighting and electricity.

Johnson explained that once they were employed and are able to pay their own rent, the youth are taught life skills, budgeting, opening bank accounts, writing a check and shopping so that they are able to take care of themselves when Valley Youth House rental assistance ends.

“I know that last year 100 percent of youth who transitioned out of our program transitioned to a stable living space, 90 percent of them chose to remain in the program, and 10 percent moved in with family members,” Johnson said.

Johnson invited attendees to look at the Valley Youth House website if they were interested in learning more.

Contact Justice Colmon at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Who’s got your vote? Area students weigh in on presidential race

By Justice Colmon

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“Hillary Clinton has my vote because I feel like the United States needs a change and Hillary just might be that change.” Quaned Wilson, 19, Harris School of Business, dental assistant major.
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“I’ll vote for Hillary because she is the lesser of the two evils. Plus I agree with freedom of choice which Trump and the Republicans seem to want to take away from the American people.” Shannon Darnell Sr., 40, Liberty University, psychology crisis counseling major.
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“I’ll probably vote for Hillary Clinton because I don’t want to vote for Trump.” Michaela Erbin, 21, University of Pennsylvania, psychology major.
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“I’m not voting because I don’t like any of the candidates.” Alec Hasson, 18, DCCC Marple Campus, science for health professions major.
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“I don’t want to vote because both of the candidates are not where they need to be for our country. Trump only thinks about money and Hillary puts on a show for everybody, but it doesn’t seem like she means it.” Dylan Keitot, 20, DCCC Upper Darby Center.
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“I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because she is more for the people.” Tameka Critchlow, 38, DCCC Marple Campus, psychology major.

StrEAT festival feeds Manayunk

Friday, May 6, 2016
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By Shannon Adams

More than 50 food trucks lined Main Street in Manayunk to feed about 3,000 people attending the StrEAT Food Festival, according to Philadelphia police.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. people roamed up and down the blocked off blacktop, trying their taste buds at the various foods which ranged from savory gourmet BBQ to sweet, fluffed desserts.

Continue reading “StrEAT festival feeds Manayunk”

From addict to an example of hope

Friday, May 6, 2016
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By Nicole Marie Wieland

City Team Ministries’ team leader for food services, John Clifford, sits at his desk, typing away on a computer. A photograph of his daughter, Kiera, hangs on the wall above his desk, along with some corkboards and white boards filled with information about food service, clean up duties, and various lists.

City Team provides food, shelter, and a men’s recovery program to Chester residents.

Continue reading “From addict to an example of hope”