From cats to confidence

In any given Saturday morning, close to 20 teen volunteers can be found pouring dry cat food into hundreds of plastic dishes at the Uptown branch of the Tree House Humane Society.

Tree House, a nonprofit animal shelter devoted to the care and placement of stray cats with physical and emotional needs, opens its three-floor facility to youth volunteers intent on making a difference.

The teens, however, are making the biggest difference in the lives of the volunteers who are helping them empty the shelter’s hundreds of litter boxes.

For as long as Jenny Schlueter, Tree House’s director of development, can remember, the shelter has placed volunteers with learning disabilities in programs with volunteers who do not have disabilities.

The inclusion of learning-disabled volunteers in the program is not only helping teens recognize the larger role they are playing in each cat’s life, but it is also helping them build a sense of self-confidence that didn’t exist before, says program manager Ollie Davidson.

For more information on volunteering, e-mail Davidson at volunteer@treehouseanimals.org.

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