Rockford's Learning Services Coordinator Finds New Friend During Community Service Day
By Kaila Illsley on 08/24/2018
Rasmussen University hosted its tenth annual Community Service Day on July 20, 2018. Approximately 700 employees from the College’s 22 campuses and three central offices participated in the national service day event. Through this annual effort, employees and staff volunteered more than 2,100 hours in just one 24-hour period, helping communities across the U.S. grow and thrive.
Each campus community chose local volunteer organizations to donate their time to. Some campuses chose to clean up local schools or participate in blood drives. The Rasmussen University Rockford campus relied on their Health Information Technician program coordinator’s connection to a local organization, the PAWS Humane Society, to find the perfect beneficiary for their services.
Faculty and staff from the Rockford campus helped prepare PAWS for its upcoming garage sale, organized donations, weeded and mulched the property and played with the kittens. Although this was an important day for all of the University's employees, it was more than just the annual volunteer day for Learning Services Coordinator Bonnie Ostrand. It was the day she met her newest friend, Heathcliff.
Ostrand has worked for Rasmussen University for more than five years. She is passionate about professionally developing student tutors for the Schools of Technology and Design as well as building resources for Learning Services. She has worked in higher education for the last 13 years but pursued a role at Rasmussen when a friend of hers took a job at the Rockford campus and absolutely loved it.
When Ostrand found out she would join 28 of her teammates to volunteer at PAWS Humane Society, she jumped on their website and was excited to see all the cats they had up for adoption. “I wasn’t planning on adopting that day,” she said. “I have an older cat that’s 15 and a younger one that’s two. So, since the one cat is aging, I had been thinking about getting a companion for the younger one but wasn’t prepared to do so that day,” said Ostrand. “I didn’t even know they had young kittens [at PAWS], so when I came in, I was really excited!”
Even after a busy day of volunteering, Ostrand made sure to take time with the kittens, and that was when her heart melted. “I was holding one of the kittens when another ran up to me and collapsed in my lap, staying there the whole time. It was then I just fell in love,” she said. She had to head back to campus at the end of the day but could not take her mind off of the kitten. Later that evening, she decided to drive back to PAWS and see if she still felt a connection to the kitten.
“Sure enough, as soon as I got back in there, he was back over in my lap,” she said. That’s when Ostrand decided she was going to adopt. “I had already fallen in love with him,” she said. “It was so unexpected. I didn’t even have a carrier with me or special food for the little guy, but luckily PAWS helped me out.” Ostrand named him Heathcliff after the classic novel, Wuthering Heights, and has been bonding with him ever since.
Though this will likely top the charts of her fondest Community Service Day memories, Ostrand has plenty of other great past experiences with the event. She was once so inspired by her campus’ food bank service project that she decided to spearhead a donation collection effort herself. She knew the College would be supportive because of its steadfast belief in giving back to its communities, so she set up donation boxes at the campus for the food bank, collected donations and then brought them back to the food bank to ultimately serve the greater community.
Rasmussen University believes in the importance of giving back to local communities year after year, and takes Community Service Day very seriously. “I think it really strengthens the bonds of the College and the needs of the community in a really unique way,” says Ostrand. “It’s our responsibility to give back to our local communities. It’s not only important for us as individuals, but it also sets an example for our students and encourages them to get out and do the same.”