CARLSBAD — At first glance, it may seem unusual to see college-aged men sitting around a sewing circle of women cutting cloth and stuffing beds at an animal shelter on a summer day in Southern California. But that is exactly the perception the three young men visiting from Pittsburg are hoping to change.
“People think we should be on the beach,” joked Andrew Blythe, one of the three men traveling across the United States in a quest to help others. “But we have a real passion for community service.”
“We’ve been traveling across America, volunteering since May,” said Adam Kunes, who along with Blythe, helped create the faith-based traveling service club they represented. “We wanted to create something for youth, put a spin on volunteerism and inspire them.”
The new spin has been raising awareness, they said, along the way at each stop on their journey, as they lend a hand to a different charity in each new town.
The Call to Serve, their not-for-profit organization (the status is still pending) started in Pittsburg, Pa., and has made stops in New York, St. Louis, New Orleans, Houston and Phoenix.
They reached the final leg off their cross country trek when they rolled into San Diego County in an older model recreational vehicle they purchased with donations from sponsors, such as their local Rotary Club.
The three were all college students when they first met in 2007 as volunteers rebuilding homes in New Orleans that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
“We’re now attempting to keep the service spirit alive and raise awareness about volunteerism,” Blythe said. “There are a variety of different service projects and different ways to volunteer.”
And on the afternoon the three lent a hand to the project at the animal shelter, Joan Laisney said she couldn’t have been happier. The roomful of volunteers worked together to make beds at the San Diego County animal shelter in Carlsbad on June 19 for Laisney’s nonprofit Kennel Comforters Volunteers Project.
Laisney said she created the nonprofit organization eight years ago, after she was inspired to help others by the words of a friend.
“She said, it’s not about you …… it’s about what you can do to make someone feel better,” Laisney recalled. “Everybody needs a purpose.”
Laisney said she has found the work comforting and enjoys the fellowship of those who help.
And on this particular day, the group of unlikely friends shared a common bond.
“It really is about the animals,” Laisney said. “I am so impressed by the boys, they showed up here this morning and they are still here late in the afternoon.”
To assist with the Kennel Comforters Volunteers Project, contact Laisney at kennel.
To follow The Call to Serve, visit www.thecalltoserve.org.