Josh has many friends, including Meghan Ruck. Read how she made a difference for children on the island of St. Kitts by supporting The Josh and Friends Project.
“Community service has always been an important part of my life. It’s important for everyone to give back to his or her community, whether it is your immediate community or even a more worldly approach. To me, community service is a humbling experience that can open your eyes to those around you when you have tunnel vision living your own life. Sometimes community service even takes us out of our comfort zone and introduces us to amazing opportunities to experience new, inspiring feelings. This is a wonderful chance for personal growth! On an even larger scale, community service truly brings people together for a common cause.
When I came to RUSVM in May 2011, I immediately began asking around about organizations that gave back to the St. Kitts community and I was introduced to Dana Cannon, the founder of the RUSVM Josh Project chapter. It was inspiring to be a part of such an amazing organization that was building it’s potential and growing at Ross University. I started out as an active member who helped in every fundraising event. Around November of 2011, I was asked by Kalahari Riss and Lauren Groppi to step up as the chair of Josh Project the following semester. It was an honor to be entrusted with the future of our Josh Project.
I began to come up with some personal goals I wanted to see the organization accomplish during my leadership period. I wanted our members to make bi-monthly donation visits to the pediatric ward in order to begin to create closer ties to JNF General Hospital. At first we made visits to the pediatric ward and took coloring books and crayon sets for the children that were there. With patience, persistence, and collaborations with Mrs. Adams (JNF hospital administrator) as well as Ms. Moore from the Ministry of Finance, we were successful in earning tax/duty/VAT exemption on our Josh Kits and creating a lasting way to acquire them and to be delivered directly to us. These relationships also allowed us to create a path for the delivery of our RUSVM fleeces (originally created by Dana Cannon) that are one of the organizations most successful fundraisers now. In addition to the fleece sales, I made sure we focused our efforts on bringing more awareness to Josh Project through other fundraisers that have been traditionally conducted every semester for Josh Project since it’s beginnings. Our coin fundraiser week is now an event that the student body and faculty look forward to and anticipate every semester. Our cook off fundraiser has evolved into a community cook off rather than just a professor cook off. Now we have students, VIPs of students, faculty, and even community members joining us every semester and playing a major role in this event. See what I mean about how community service brings people together. As our Josh Project chapter blossomed and reached new heights, it became apparent that it was time to reach out to members and give them opportunities to have an even larger role in Josh Project as well as a chance to learn and build on their leadership skills by being placed in charge of various events/aspects.
As our goals were accomplished, I turned my attention to other ways that our Josh Project chapter could branch out and bring an even greater awareness in both the RUSVM and St. Kitts communities of our mission as well as make an even larger impact at the pediatric ward. It was from this desire that the idea to create a children’s mural painting in the pediatric ward stemmed. Together, various talented members of our organization put their thinking caps on and came up with an “Under the Sea” theme. From an amazing sketch on paper to an amazing painting on one of the larger walls in the pediatric ward, our vision came to life! In addition to the mural, I had hope that we could also create a promotional video for our Josh Project chapter. I wanted Josh Project to have a video that would encompass our mission, our impact, and inspire all those that watched it; a video that would capture the spirit of RUSVM’s Josh Project chapter.
I was given an important opportunity when I was approached to take on Josh Project. Since then, I’ve invested all of my free time and energy into our Josh Project chapter. It’s been my heart and soul during my time at RUSVM and living on St. Kitts. I know that I’m leaving a legacy behind that will continue to resonate in both the RUSVM and St. Kitts communities. I can already see the leadership and passion continuing on within our chapter and I have witnessed a growing awareness in the community as more and more children receive Josh Kits or visit the pediatric ward and see the beautiful “Under the Sea” mural painting. It’s extremely exciting, satisfying and inspiring knowing this. RUSVM’s Josh Project is a very special chapter and will always continue to be. Not only do we get to carry out the amazing mission of Josh and Friends by comforting the children of St. Kitts through a unique introduction to the human-animal bond, we get to make our own special impact at the hospital through unique projects such as the mural paintings. Each of our hospital visits include a group story time where each child there during the visit gets personalized attention with a Josh Project member. The children are even encouraged to interact with us and bring the story to life with their new friend Josh as we read the story out loud.
Thank you so very much to everyone who made my period of leadership with Josh Project so meaningful. With your help and support along the way, we were able to allow RUSVM’s Josh Project to reach a new level of potential. Never forget, as Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Together we can change the world starting with our beautiful island of St. Kitts.”
May 2011 – April 2014