News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 21, 2013

Humane Society, Ivy Tech plan new shelter

Feasibility study related to joint fundraising campaign ‘came back very favorably,’ chancellor says

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A proposal to move the Terre Haute Humane Society animal shelter to an Ivy Tech building in southern Vigo County has moved beyond the talking stages.

“We are in the planning stages of a capital campaign,” Ann Valentine, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley, said Wednesday. “This is an exciting juncture.”

A feasibility study related to a joint fundraising campaign “came back very favorably,” Valentine said. Now, the two organizations are in the planning stages and hope to launch the campaign within six months.

A website has been created at www.ivytech.edu/wabashvalley/thhs.

“We are in desperate need of a building,” said Debbie Floyd, Terre Haute Humane Society board president. The current building has ventilation, electrical and plumbing problems. Poor ventilation lends itself to airborne diseases affecting the animals, also a serious issue.

The partnership with Ivy Tech “is a wonderful thing for the Humane Society,” Floyd said. “Who ever is going to give us that kind of a break ever again? It’s just what we needed. We operate on donations, and we would never be able to do this on our own.”

Ivy Tech and THHS have a lease agreement, in which THHS will lease space at the Ivy Tech TechLAB building (former Doughmakers) located in the Vigo County Industrial Park.

It is not a merger, Valentine emphasized. It is a lease and partnership agreement.

“I think there is confusion in the community that Ivy Tech is somehow taking over the Humane Society, and that is not true,” she said.

THHS will maintain its independence and have its own board, Floyd said.

The goal is to raise $2.5 million to $3.5 million, although those numbers will be finalized as planning continues, Valentine said. Most of the funding will go to renovate part of the TechLAB building to house the shelter, which also would need a separate air handling system as well as additional kennels and cages.

Ivy Tech would need about $250,000 worth of equipment to offer programming that includes veterinary technician, veterinary assisting, kennel management and grooming. The college is targeting fall 2014 to begin offering the programs, which require state approval. The college also wants to involve local veterinarians in an advisory capacity. “We want to make sure we are doing things correctly,” Valentine said.

Ivy Tech students enrolled in those programs, as part of their education, would help provide the medical care and attention the shelter animals need.

As the planning process continues for the fundraising campaign, “We will be building a campaign cabinet and designing materials,” Valentine said.

Anyone interested in volunteering or being part of that cabinet should contact the Humane Society or Becky Miller at Ivy Tech. Miller can be reached at 812-298-2361 or rmiller@ivytech.edu.

The campaign already has a printed brochure that outlines “the case for support.” It is called “A Partnership for Animal Welfare and Educational Development.” It includes a statement of support from Mayor Duke Bennett.

According to Valentine, one goal is to bring entertainer/humanitarian Ellen DeGeneres to town for a signature fundraising event to formally launch the campaign,

Organizers are launching a letter writing campaign and asking community members and kids to assist in appealing to DeGeneres, Valentine said. They have created a letterhead for children that they will distribute to Vigo County School Corp. schools.

The letter forms will be placed on tables, similar to what is done for other organization flyers.

Students who choose, on their own time, can write letters and then return them to Ivy Tech. Valentine hopes to hand deliver the letters to a DeGeneres staff member in Los Angeles; she is working to set up an appointment. The deadline for the letters would be April 19.

In the letters, students would tell DeGeneres why it is important to build a new home for animals in Terre Haute.

The goal is not to obtain a donation from the entertainer. The goal is to bring her to Terre Haute to “help us because we need to raise awareness and we need to raise money ourselves in this community,” Valentine said.

Valentine also will take a video that has been made and letters of support from Ivy Tech and THHS board members.

Even if the entertainer doesn’t come, the letter-writing effort will raise community awareness about the need for a new animal shelter, Valentine said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.