Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Skeeky Volunteers

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Just when you are ready to give up on today's youth along comes 17-year-old Katelyn to give us hope for the future.  Katelyn, a 12th grader at Cottage Grove High school, has plans to change the world, a feat she has already begun with her partner, Skeeky, by her side.


During her school's Christmas break, 12th-grade student Katelyn interned at River Bend Hospital Pediatric Center as the first step towards her dream of becoming a pediatrician. The hospital staff appreciated her so much that they invited Katelyn to continue helping after her internship was over.

Katelyn, never one to sit idly by, has started her own business: Renting pasture land for horses on her uncle's Stumpy Hill Ranch.  An animal lover at heart, she enjoys caring for the horses.  Her favorite activity is riding horses on the forest trails. Her least favorite activity is clearing the brambles on the property line, especially in the rain.

Katelyn's earlier life "was not wonderful."  While in the 5th grade, she, her brother, her parents and their cat and dog were homeless.  "We lived in a tiny motor home. Mom could only find a job in which she worked one day a week.  Life was hard.  We were hungry.  We lived on noodles, chilli and potatoes."

Because Katelyn's parents worked off and on at odd jobs, in different cities, she's been enrolled in five different schools since the fifth grade. She fully understands the meaning of the words "poor" and "judgmental."

"At one time I was 'going down the wrong path' but I made a choice to change my life and make a difference in the lives of others," said Katelyn. "For a more stable life, I moved in with my Uncle Earl.  He is wonderful, believes in me and treats me like a daughter.  I am grateful that he opened his home and heart to me."

"Shortly after I began attending the Covered Bridge of the Nazarene church, Pastor Cindy suggested I help with their Wednesday night supper (SUP).  The meal feeds those in need in our community. I understand homelessness and hunger. Our high school believes in giving back to the community that raises us and so do I. In helping, I've met many sweet people who desperately need our help," said Katelyn.  "I like donating to a cause where all my efforts and time go directly to those who need it the most. Not a penny is wasted. It is amazing how many nice families and their children, ranging in age from babies to teens, attend our SUP.  Anyone can come help volunteer to cook or serve these families or help them find warm clothing from the church's 'Mother Hubbard's Cupboard' (community clothes closet). No one in need has to pay for our gifts of food and clothing." Always moving in the direction of helping others, Katelyn adds, "Right now we need clothing for men."

Pastor Cindy Slaymaker said, "In May, when Katelyn stepped into our community kitchen and made homemade soup for SUP it was the FIRST time that Katelyn had ever made soup! She 'just had to help.' Katelyn cooked SUP for the entire summer when other teens were swimming at the lake.  She was awarded our "Volunteer of the Season" for her efforts. Katelyn also volunteers at our "Mother Hubbard's Cupboard" and in September she helped organize a blood drive at her high school.  Their group had so many students participate that the blood drive quota was met while students were still lining up to donate!
Katelyn is the most inspiring teenager I know.  She is compassionate, giving, gentle, patient, generous, smart, insightful, selfless, the list could go on and on.  Her love for her pets is matched by her care for others."
Katelyn is also interning in a kindergarten class and a third grade class. Her report card shows almost all A's, (just one "B"). She is taking 8 classes instead of the usual 7 to give her a head start at college.  Katelyn wrote a poem from the heart which was published in Great Poems of the Western World.

"I teach a Health Services Pathway class for high school students pursuing careers in healthcare," said Eric Cullander. "Early this year, Katelyn approached myself and her German III teacher asking us to consider letting her take both courses, taught simultaneously during the same class period, simultaneously! So far she has balanced attending two classes at the same time with success. Katelyn is one of the most focused and hardest working individuals I've ever met. Her drive is unsurpassed and although we worry about how tired she appears we also note that she is usually smiling."

In her "spare" time, after having trained her own horses Katelyn has also trained her cat Skeeky. On command he sits, lays down, and comes. Katelyn is now teaching Skeeky to shake his paw.  When Skeeky was a "toddler kitten he came home stinky" so Katelyn bathed him.  He must have been appreciative because he has liked water ever since! Skeeky's favorite game is playing "peek-a-boo" around the shower door when she is in the shower.  

Skeeky is like Katelyn-rambunctious, sweet and has beautiful eyes.  When Katelyn is concentrating on her homework, Skeeky plunks himself down in the middle of it for playtime, patting, or a place to nap.  Skeeky also enjoys volunteering.  On the ranch, he spends his day outside with the barn cats who are "professional mousers." He prides himself in helping them rid the barn of mice.

Katelyn's outlook on life defies her young age, "Don't judge anyone by the way they look," she said with a serious look on her face.  "You have not walked in their shoes.  I've learned that a person's mistakes can be a good thing, especially when they learn and grow from them."

Katelyn "knew what she wanted to be when she grew up" at an early age. "I've been interested in the medical field since I was five years old," said Katelyn, "My dad was a janitor for a hospital, and he brought home medical books and magazines destined for the recycle bin.  Before I could read, I'd look at the photos. Then, after I learned to read, I read the books. I want to be a doctor, helping, supporting, and comforting children." 


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