All-inclusive United Campus Ministry offers volunteer opportunities

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?
What’s the UCM?

UCM logo
Their logo, including atheist, Satanic/Wicca, and humanist symbols

Religious institutions have the reputation of being exclusive and righteous to a fault. The United Campus Ministry in Athens couldn’t be more different than that.

Supported entirely by a few local congregations and personal donations, it accepts people from any faith or non-faith. Their mission is to engage the community in spiritual growth, community service and work for justice, guided by socially progressive and interfaith values.

UCM facilitates cooperative activities and discussions among people of varying, sometimes contradictory, faiths.  How can a Christian and a Satanist agree on anything about religion?  Rev. Evan Young, Campus Minister, says it’s all about open discussion.  “We encourage understanding each other and in doing so, we understand ourselves better,” he said.  “We all have the same questions: What happens to us when we die? Why do we suffer?”

The United Campus Ministry would love for you to participate in these discussions and/or get involved in their volunteering efforts this holiday. Here are just a few ways to contribute.

Thursday supper and Saturday lunch

Student and community volunteers work together to plan, prepare, set-up, and serve free, hot, nutritious meals for low-income community members. Every Thursday and Saturday.

Interfaith impact student organization

Interfaith dialogue facilitated by Rev. Young, every Thursday night (7:30-9)

Better Together

An award-winning campaign that focuses on environmental justice and food insecurity in Athens County. Students have raised money and awareness for local and international organizations including Charity Water, the SE Ohio Foodbank, and Community Food Initiatives.

Alternative break trips

Winter break trips have included Witness for Peace delegations to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela; Pine Ridge Reservation, post-Katrina New Orleans, US-Mexico border, and Washington D.C. Available to all students.

PayPal donations

UCM’s website accepts donations of any size.

Buy stuff at Kroger

Kroger gift cards are available at UCM. A percentage of grocery and gas purchases with the Kroger card will go to UCM at no cost to you. Call or email for details and to obtain your card.

Other volunteer opportunities

  • Groundskeeping and routine building maintenance
  • Bulk mailing prep (folding and labeling)
  • Fundraising and outreach events and activities

Social media

To keep up with what the ministry is doing – Follow @ucmohiou on Twitter and/or friend ‘United Campus Ministry at Ohio University’ on Facebook

Additional information on these and other actives can be found on their website.



Volunteers help Passion Works artists flower

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?

The holiday season brings people together.

Thanksgiving, in particular, enables family members across the United States to gather around the same table to enjoy a smorgasbord of fall-inspired delicacies, to celebrate their gratitude for one another. This Thanksgiving, Court Street Stories wants to place the emphasis on showing thanks by giving back to those in the community who appreciate it most. Passion Works Studio is one place where your presence and time is valued.

Noah Hogan shows off his bird house, a project he has been working on for two weeks.

Passion Works Studio is a nonprofit organization— located at 20 E. State St. in Athens— that employs adults with and without disabilities as artists. And volunteers are always needed.

“We love the student volunteering aspect of this place,” says Alyssa Cardwell, the lead production artist at Passion Works Studio. “Our artists love that they get to meet new people, share their stories, artwork and a few laughs even. It’s a great connection.”

Cardwell says the studio serves three specific purposes:

1. It’s an art therapy program.

“It allows our artists to express their creativity and get their expressions out there for the community to see,” says Cardwell.

2. It gives artists a sense of individualism by offering the opportunity to make money.

“When their artwork sells here, they get 50% of the profit,” Cardwell explains.

The other half goes toward the studio to fund materials and operating expenses. Artwork can range from a painting or drawing on canvas, paper, sculptures— you name it. Another way artists can make a profit is by working on the Passion flowers that are displayed all across campus, most notably in coffee shops like Donkey and Front Room. Cardwell best describes this intricate piece of art as an involved process.

“Each step is done by one of our artists, and they get paid an hourly rate,” Cardwell says.

They work, hands on, from start to finish. All she does is drill the petals into a wooden block and the rest is the artists’ creation.

Artists also can make money earning a designer fee. Their drawing or painting can be mass produced and printed onto products like jewelry, mugs and tiles if they create a stellar image.

“When we see a strong piece like that, we think it would be cool to make multiples of it by putting it on a magnet or mug [for example],” Cardwell says. “We pay those artists a designer fee for that image so we can use it over and over again — they get a pretty decent compensation for that image.”

3. Community integration.

“Here at Passion Works we are very much involved with the community. We have a lot of art installations on Court Street, buildings at the university and the Essence of Athens, [which] pushes for this beautification of Athens through the arts,” says Cardwell.

The studio invites members of the community in to boost awareness about the group of people who are bringing this art to life. Just recently, a group of home-schooled children came in to assist the artists in making holiday cards. Together, they made cards to send to their relatives. They also formed friendships in the process.

Artist Sarina loves to incorporate the colors pink and purple into her pieces.

At Passion Works, volunteering most times just means sitting down with artists, helping them however they may ask and then walking away having a made new friends. Building genuine relationships is what makes artists’ spirits thrive, even if it’s just for an hour each week.

Madeline Keener, junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Ohio University, began volunteering in the middle of September 2015, initially because of a story she pitched to Backdrop magazine.

“I was working on a story for a publication, and it was about a man who is actually one of the artists at Passion Works. [Volunteering] was another way to get to know him and observe him,” explains Keener.

That story was submitted in the beginning of October and Keener still goes to volunteer every Monday she can from 8-10 a.m. She says it’s the feeling she gets after spending some time with the artists that keeps her coming back.

“After I volunteer at Passion Works, I feel happy. I have a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for these people that always welcome me with smiles and high fives,” Keener says. “It just really brightens my day to be able to just hang out and get know these artists.”

Getting started at Passion Works Studio is quite simple. Visit the website and click on the “Get Involved” tab and then select “Volunteer.” Print out the one-page paper, fill it out and then bring it into the studio for a brief orientation. You could start that very day.

“To me it’s [just about] being there for them and providing them a way for their voice to be heard and feel like they are a part of this community,” says Cardwell.

Why you should help Keep Noah Rolling this Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local Athens charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work? And full disclosure: Both the author (Dan Shisler) and editor (Bob Benz) of this story are part of Keep Noah Rolling, the organization that’s attempting to secure funds for Noah’s van.

 Thanksgiving, for many Americans, means a time to stuff themselves, watch the Detroit Lions, get their holiday shopping done or purchase a new set of appliances at an insanely low price. Yet the true spirit of Thanksgiving, giving thanks, often sadly takes a back seat to more commercial and materialistic interests.

I would like to gently remind our readers to put the turkey, football and discounts aside for a moment, and take some time to count your blessings. This holiday is a great opportunity to give thanks for all the small things that many people take for granted every day. For example: the basic abilities to walk and talk. Now, imagine your life without them.

Noah Trembly
Noah Trembly

For Noah Trembly, an Athens resident, that is his reality. Noah has cerebral palsy. Since birth, Noah has been living with a condition that prevents him from performing the most mundane actions that able-bodied people perform mindlessly every day. Noah uses a motorized wheelchair to move around and a sophisticated communication device to speak. At first glance, many people see a broken man. But I assure you: sitting inside that uncooperative body is a brilliant mind, a deviously witty sense of humor and a genuine and selfless soul.

I first learned about Noah in my strategic communication senior capstone class at Ohio University, when my professor, Bob Benz, announced that we would be working on a special project: helping one of his disabled friends raise money for a new handicap-accessible van. At first, I thought it was a good cause, but the kind of thing you hear about all the time. Just another guy in a wheelchair, just another charity case. Until I met Noah.

When Noah came to speak to the class, I could sense there was something different about him. The way he rolled into the classroom with bright eyes and a devilish grin instantly gave credence to Benz’s many anecdotes of an infectious and amicable personality. Noah, speaking through his device, told us his story. He told us how he has been living with this terrible condition his entire life. He told us about how it was an incredible struggle for him to get through school. He told us how one of his principals told his mother that he would probably never amount to anything, that he would probably never live a fulfilling or meaningful life.

The principal couldn’t have been more wrong.

Noah Trembly has been defying the odds ever since. His story is one of resilience and inspiration. Noah did not let his condition define him; he has overcome expectations and defined himself. Noah lives independently, albeit with the constant assistance of a caregiver. But that hasn’t stopped him from living his own life. Noah is a Grateful Dead fan. Noah is a skier. Noah is a gardener. Noah is a vegetarian (in fact, you may have seen him zipping around the Athens Farmers Market). Noah is an artist. But most importantly, Noah is a worker.

Noah, working through his company, Noah Trembly Enterprises, is an advocate for the disabled and a handicap-accessibility consultant. He is currently heading an initiative to improve the quality and wheelchair accessibility of sidewalks in Athens. Noah has consulted for Ohio University and has even been a lecturer at the institution. For someone with no control over his vocal cords, Noah speaks a lot. In fact, Noah has traveled throughout the state and the country giving talks. For travel, Noah relies on an old and decrepit van that is on its last legs. For Noah’s meaningful work to continue, a new van is essential.

The decked-out van Keep Noah Rolling is raising money for.
The decked-out van Keep Noah Rolling is raising money for.

Our capstone class devised a social media strategy to raise awareness and produce donations for Keep Noah Rolling, the charity whose goal it is to raise the $60,000 required for a new accessible van. With the help of Tony’s Tavern and Jackie O’s Brewpub, we held an event on Nov. 14 that we called Keep Noah Shuffling, our take on the age-old Court Street tradition. But instead of raising our BAC, we raised money for a great cause. A portion of every signature Tony’s Hot Nut sold that night went directly to the new van. Jackie O’s even brewed a very tasty beer especially for the occasion, with $2 from every pint sold going directly to the cause. We also accepted donations from generous patrons. All said and done, we raised over $2,000 that night. Unfortunately, that accounts for only a fraction of our lofty goal. For me though, the reward was the expression on Noah’s face after the event.

While we counted the donations in front of him at the end of the night, Noah’s face lit up and he let out what I’ve come to know as one of his signature bouts of boisterous belly-laughter. His smile was that of a man overwhelmed with gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of support from the community, local businesses, friends and total strangers alike. Our event was but the start of a movement; we still have a long road ahead of us.

Like so many of us, Noah simply wants to live independently, without government assistance, and to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Noah doesn’t want a donation; he wants an investment. By investing in Noah, you are investing in his ability to help enable and empower others in similar situations.

So this Thanksgiving, give thanks, give a damn, and give your support to this wonderful cause.

For those interested in donating, you can do so here. If you can’t support Noah financially, please like and share his Facebook page here.


group shot
Author Dan Shisler, Bob Benz and the rest of the Keep Noah Rolling capstone team.


Give thanks by playing with a cat this Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?





OU students help dogs with Paws for a Cause

Each year during the holiday season, many children will find robots, action figures, or other toys under the tree or given to them on one of the nights of Hanukkah. For a special few, a Christmas morning I wish I got to experience while growing up, some children will pull out of a box, a new, four-legged best friend.

This is Juno. A one-year old hound mix who is a big lover. Check out her profile here:
This is Juno. A one-year old hound mix who is a big lover. Check out her profile here:
This is Goldie #2, a Boxer mix who loves people and belly rubs. Check her profile here
This is Goldie #2, a Boxer mix who loves people and belly rubs. Check her profile here

Dogs are one of the most influential beings in some peoples lives. They quickly become members of the family and are treated just as anyone would treat a close friend or family member. While some dogs get to be the luck ones with a bow tied to the collar, others live their lives in shelters and in the care of the Athens community and one local organization in town, Paws for a Cause.

Paws for a Cause is a student organization on campus centered on helping out with the Athens County Dog Shelter and the Friends of Shelter Dogs and the employees there. The organization raises fund for the shelter and dogs, donate supplies and especially their time to helping these animals get the love and attention they need. Vice President of Paws for a Cause Savannah Williams elaborated more on the organization,

Paws for a Cause is a non profit organization that was formed by Ohio University students,” Williams said, “every penny that we raise goes directly back to the shelter for their needs including the sick and injured fund where we help to provide medical treatment to the dogs that normally wouldn’t be able to have those procedures done due to limited funding.”

Not only do they spend their time working at the shelter and with the dogs, members of the organization also spend their time raising awareness for shelter dogs.

Paws for a Cause Vice President Savannah Williams with her dog, Ahsoka. Williams adopted Ahsoka from the shelter a year ago
Paws for a Cause Vice President Savannah Williams with her dog, Ahsoka. Williams adopted Ahsoka from the Athens County Dog Shelter a year ago

Play Time with Puppies is at the residential halls where the RA’s put on an event for their residents and we bring dogs from the shelter that they can play with for an hour or two,” Williams said, “we also do numerous bake sales/raffles here on campus with the dogs throughout the year that tend to be holiday themed, we had one for Halloween where we put the dogs in costumes, it was a blast.”  

Other events the organization puts on include adoption events at the local PetsMart on Saturdays as a way of bringing the dogs to potential families as well as trips to Laurel’s nursing home, where residents get a chance to interact with the dogs and give the dogs some attention.

Shelter dogs, unlike those bred from a private breeder, face more challenges. Not only do dogs brought to a shelter have some form of a past, one that could lead to the dog being a certain way or looking a certain way, they also have to deal with finding a home. Dogs can not stay in the shelter forever, there is not enough room to hold every dog that needs a temporary home until the right family walks in the door and that causes some dogs to be put down when they have been in the shelter for too long.

 “I often get asked “How can you volunteer and see them all and not want to adopt every single one?”  That was hard for me at first, you’d leave feeling sad that you couldn’t do more,” Williams said, “But now I look at it and see how many families get to adopt an amazing new member into their home, and my work is just the in between.  To be a part of that is all I could ever ask for”

Many loving dogs are in shelters just waiting for the right owner, and as a benefit of adopting from a shelter, dogs get treated, vaccinated, and taken care of before being introduced to their new family. Not only are the animals properly cared for before adoption, it is also a cheaper option for most families with adoption costs usually around the $200 mark as opposed to the $1,000+ price tag of a pure bred dog.

“Every time that I see one of the dogs find it’s forever home due to an event that we put on I couldn’t be happier,” Williams said. 

The shelter also has started a foster program for people to foster dogs at their homes while they continue to search for a new family for the dog. This program lets people help the dogs, while also getting the experience of what it is like to have a dog in the house, a great idea for those interested in potentially adopting.

This is Hook. He is less than a year old and is a terrier mix. Check out his profile here:
This is Hook. He is less than a year old and is a terrier mix. Check out his profile here:
This is Levi. A pit bull mix. Very energetic and full of love. He prefers no small children however! Check out his profile here:
This is Levi. A pit bull mix. Very energetic and full of love. He prefers no small children however! Check out his profile here:

It is important to note that when adopting a dog, one should be ready for the commitment and responsibility it takes to own and raise a dog. One of the hardest things a shelter can see is a dog return back to their shelter because of something that happened.

Paws for a Cause meets every Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Grover, but if you feel like helping in a different way the group is always looking for donations of things such as dog food, blankets, and first-aid items. Pine Sol is also the biggest need of the shelter. If you would like more information about the organization follow @oupawsforacause on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and look for events involving the organization on campus.

*All photos used in this piece are of dogs currently available for adoption at the Athens County Dog Shelter, follow the link here for the complete list of adoptable dogs in Athens:!adopt/cihc

Athens County Food Pantry needs donations, volunteers

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?

33364_oh_45701_athens-county-food-pantry_acvThe Athens County Food Pantry is a non-profit organization that provides food for people in need. The organization is supported by volunteers and has no paid employees. The donations mostly come from individuals, groups and local churches in the Athens community.

According to Frank Hare, who works at the organization, students like to donate peanut butter, canned soups, vegetables and candy, but money is the most efficient when it comes to a donation.

“Money always helps the most because we use the money to get food from food banks where we can get a large amount of food with cheaper price,” Hare said.

The Pantry’s hours vary, and they suggest calling in advance before coming in for assistance. According to Hare, most food pantry organizations have a three-day emergency food supply service where people can get three days worth of food, three meals a day.

“We have to have some sort of limit on how much people can take. The three-day emergency service is limited to once a month and it usually works pretty well,” Hare said.

Volunteers are always needed. If you would like to donate or volunteer, call (740) 448-4041

For food assistance, call directly at 1-800-338-4484


Ohio University students mooch off of parents for groceries

This past weekend was Dad’s weekend at Ohio University, and like any other weekend when students’ parents visit them, the Ohio University students let their parents buy them groceries.

The cliché of being “poor college students” is often times an accurate description. When parents come, it’s a highlight of college for a lot of reasons, one of those being that students don’t have to worry as much about spending their own money. This past weekend, almost every student seen around campus was accompanied by their father. The dads were seen buying food for their kids at restaurants on campus and up town, and also buying them groceries.

“It helps me because I don’t have to use my own money on groceries, and I can use it on things like books,” said sophomore english major Emily Griffith. “A lot of things I need aren’t on campus and I don’t have a car, so my parents can drive me up town to Kroger.”

To clear the air, we as students don’t use our parents, but if they offer to buy us things, we aren’t going to say no. Sophomore journalism major Caitlin Harrison said, “I have a job, but once in a while when my mom is in town and she wants to take me out and buy me things, it’s a nice treat.”

My dad came up to campus for dad’s weekend, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t basque in the fact that I didn’t have to pay for a single thing. And then it was a sad reality when he left and I had to go back to paying for things on my own again. We as students love when our parents visit because they always make good company and we like sharing this world of ours with them, but we do especially appreciate them taking care of expenses for the time they’re in town.

Fall fashion in Athens, Ohio

According to Elle Magazine’s “The Complete Fall 2015 Trend Guide,” furry boots, high cuffs and high waists are in this year. Harper’s Bazaar said that suede boots are a must have for fall. Take a look at fall fashion in Athens, Ohio.

IMG_1725[1] IMG_1721[1]









One of Athens’ newest clothing shops on West State Street, BlueTiquehas already started stacking their racks with their fall essentials.  BlueTique opened in August. The store sells clothing, accessories and boots.  There are only eight other BlueTiques in the U.S. Store Manager, Marissa Whaley, described the store’s vibe as, “trendy yet affordable.”











As far as what’s popular this fall, Whaley said it was sweaters and scarves. Scarves at BlueTique range anywhere from $15 to $30. Sweaters go from $25 to $70.

Blanket scarves, infinity scarves or any type of scarf. That’s the number one staple,” Whaley said.

Vests are also very popular, especially with a little bit of fur. Whaley recalled getting a supply of vests on Thursday and was sold out by Saturday (photo shown below on the left).  There are also a lot of options in school colors and the store just recently started selling blankets.

Store hours are from Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.














The Artifacts Gallerylocated on North Court Street, has several winter accessory options and ponchos. Cassey Spires, a long-time sales associate for the Gallery, said that the line is multi-seasonal. “Anything can be layered,” Spires suggested. There are also dress options in muted colors that could be paired with boots or a heavy sweater to make it fashionable and functional for fall. The style is cute and funky, Spires said.

Store hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.















Figleaf Boutiquealso located on North Court Street, just got their fall shipment in on Wednesday, November 11.

Maggie Fewel, a sales associate, defined FigLeaf’s collection as “boho.”

Dresses are our most popular item,” Fewel said. Other than dresses comfortable clothing to wear for class is also popular (photo of some dress options on bottom left). According to Fewel, the prices range from $8 to $50.

Store hours are Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.


At South Court Street’s The Other Placescarves, jackets and boots were abundant. There were also sweater and skirt combinations in colors that resemble fall foliage. (Here’s the breakdown for the outfit shown in the photo on the left: the sweater (last photo in center) costs $30 and the skirt (on right) ranges from $30 to $40, and lastly the scarf which costs $16).

Store hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.



A few reasons why winter fashion is the only fashion

There’s this notion that a temperate climate — a little bit of warmth here, a little bit of sun there — gives way to great fashion.

If weather allows you to wear ankle boots with a sun dress and a wool hat, you can essentially quit your otherwise normal life to become The Next Big Blogger. You broke the mold. You mixed fabric weights. You wore a beanie with shorts. Someone should pay you (or the California climate you exist in) for your unmatched genius.

Here’s the thing: That’s bullshit. A temperate climate means living in a world where you’re always too hot or too cold, and consistently making the wrong fashion choices. People that wear boots with sleeveless dresses are never truly happy — just left with a confused body temperature and no sense of time or place.

If we all wanted to be fashionable, we’d move to somewhere truly freezing. A miserable-range of freezing doesn’t allow you to make any fashion choices. You can wear a 400-pound down jacket with four pairs of leggings underneath, as long as its all a mildly attractive color, you win.

Not quite sold? Let me give you a few reasons why I’m right.

Blanket Scarves.

Via Urban Outfitters.
Via Urban Outfitters.

This is literally an excuse to wear a blanket to class and have no one judge you. You get to call this lazy excuse for an accessory “fashion.” You could swathe an infant child in it, but you instead chose to wear it around your neck. People applaud you for it. What could be better?

Down Jackets 

I’m from Michigan, where it’s unbearably cold a good portion of the year. That’s why I even know about jackets this huge and puffy. It’s necessary for life, but also a perfectly good reason to wear what would otherwise be a sleeping bag around your shoulders.

Boots with the fur

Via Bloomingdales.
Via Bloomingdales.

More than a line in a song by our generation’s songbird, Flo Rida, “boots with the fur” (let’s use Ugg boots as an example) are basically like wearing slippers all winter long. Again, one of those weird things were you get to pretend this looks good for a few months for the sake of warmth. Way better than sandals.


‘Nuff said. These guys should be worn all year ’round. They’re the perfect excuse to not send any emails, check your phone or do any heavy lifting. You’re basically useless while wearing mittens. It’s a beautiful and rare thing.

Beanies big enough to pull over your entire head 

Bad hair days don’t exist mid-November – late Match.  Nobody can even tell if you’ve showered or not. Know why? You’re covering your entire head with a magic piece of wool that cost (hopefully) $10 at Forever 21. During the summer, you’d have to shower once or twice a day just to exit the sweat swamp you’re living in and look remotely attractive.

We all look the same

Winter weather bonds us in our misery and our affinity for clothes we actually bought from Costco just to survive. That’s so beautiful.