Students at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield have been busy developing their H.O.R.S.E. sense.
They’re volunteers at H.O.R.S.E. of Connecticut – the Humane Organization Representing Suffering Equines located in the town of Washington – along with their teacher, Debbie Danowski, an associate professor of communication and media studies. Moved by the organization’s enthusiasm and commitment, Danowski has been working with the nonprofit since November.

“When I first began volunteering, I was very impressed with the organization, which has been in existence for over 30 years and has saved more than 650 horses. I decided to incorporate my volunteer work into my class so that my students would have practical public relations experience working for an established and respected organization,” she said.

Danowski’s students took a trip to the H.O.R.S.E. farm in February and have been working to promote the organization ever since. That includes writing press releases, designing fliers, using social media to advance various fundraising efforts and otherwise creating awareness about the good work being done by H.O.R.S.E.

All of the horses that come to the farm have been abused, neglected and starved. H.O.R.S.E President Patty Wahlers and her group of volunteers work to rehabilitate and care for them. Wahlers’ team emphasizes that each horse has its own story, and that’s what the students publicize.

Danowski believes such volunteerism allows her students to have an active and engaged learning experience that cannot be duplicated in a classroom. Students face real-life public relations situations that they must learn how to handle. In addition, they have learned a great deal about animal welfare and the unfortunate ways in which the horses are sometimes treated.

“Working as a volunteer for H.O.R.S.E. of Connecticut has been a great experience. Being involved with the organization through my class has allowed me to be physically engaged in helping advertise for H.O.R.S.E. By promoting the organization and being an advocate for its cause, more people are becoming aware of its needs and what the volunteer group is truly about,” sophomore Lauren Kalil said.

For more information, visit horseofct.org.

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