The Veteran Leadership Academy at Truckee Meadows Community College has shown a spirit of barn-raising, helping a local nonprofit group build shelters for animals in need of a roof over their heads.
“The veterans in the Academy come up with their own nonprofit organization projects, with whom they partner,” said Zachary Totans, Coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) at TMCC.
In November, on a cold Saturday morning, the student veteran leaders assisted 4-Paws Rescue Shelter Sanctuary, building large shelters in a rural area north of Reno-Sparks. The rescue group is a 501(c)(3) organization.
“They’re great people in the Rescue—they rescue dogs who’ve been abandoned, providing medicine, diet, grooming and specialty medical care,” Totans said.
The rescue provides a loving, stable environment for dogs, puppies and a couple of wolves.
“The main efforts of the rescue are saving animals, mostly dogs, in need, providing them with proper care—along with lots of love, and then finding them the best forever-homes through adoption. For those who are deemed ‘unadoptable,’ they get to spend the rest of their lives comfortable and well taken care of in a safe environment at the rescue. All of this is done through donations and volunteerism.”
Totans was surprised to find out that the founder of the group is also a veteran.
“The owners are Barb and Ross Steffner and the kennel manager is Lynnea Harvey,” Totans said. “Ross is a Marine veteran, Barb is a retired sheriff, and Lynnea is an Air Force wife.”
A veterinary technology student who is a student employee in the VRC, Navy veteran Brianna Harvey is the Veteran Leadership Academy member who coordinated the project with 4-Paws.
“Brianna and the other Leadership Academy members went to help with the project close to finals time when they could have been working on other things—it just shows their dedication and what the Leadership Academy is all about; giving back to the community,” Totans added.
The veterans helped to build a fence and a dog run. They dug trenches to put in anchoring posts, and installed the large foundation post for a central structure that will support a roof.
“We’re going out there again to help with a spring project,” Totans said.
Truckee Meadows Veterans Club Serves Holiday Meals
The Veteran Leadership Academy and Truckee Meadows Veterans Club (TMVC) collaborated on two events that brightened spirits of local community veterans in need at the holiday time.
Every year on the Fridays before Thanksgiving and Christmas, TMCC veteran students assist the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Reno Chapter 1, offering special meals; festive dinners with turkey and stuffing that are served mid-day.
“We were serving meals and visiting with the veterans—we served about 120 at the Dec. 22 event,” Totans said. “The meals were held at a church downtown across from the Reno Police Department. It’s all-you-can-eat and we say a prayer to honor all veterans.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Sierra Nevada typically sends a representative to attend the dinners, along with the Reno Vet Center, so that if veterans would like to ask questions about community support, they are on hand to offer information.
TMCC volunteers also help clean up after the events.
“I love doing the dinner—it’s a real feel-good event for everyone,” Totans added.
Veteran Leadership Academy and TMVC
The Veteran Leadership Academy is a group of 10 student veterans who are dedicated to serving both college and community. Every academic year, they decide where to focus their efforts. VLA members meet as a group about once every two weeks.
The TMVC is an official TMCC Student Government Association (SGA) recognized student organization. The group represents TMCC’s student veterans, their concerns and interests; Zack Totans is their faculty advisor.
For more information about the Veterans Resource Center, and upcoming activities of the VLA and TMVC, please contact Zack Totans at 775-337-5612.