Three Rivers Visiting Dogs fosters love and reduces stigma

By: Lydia Braswell

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is at its close, but Three Rivers Visiting Dogs promote visibility all year round. The Fort Wayne-based organization has a goal to reduce the stigma with the help of trained dogs certified to make a difference in our community.

College students engaged in activities during Mental Health Week at Purdue University Fort Wayne to raise awareness and help prevent suicide – the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The center of attention was dedicated to floppy ears and wagging tails who welcomed love and attention from students as we took a break from dealing with the daily stresses of college life.

“It really helps the kids– coming here, petting the dogs,” said Bob Everest, founder of the nonprofit. “It lowers your blood pressure and changes things in your day that are going bad.”

Trained service dogs can detect oncoming anxiety and provide stress relief, according to Medical News Today. Three Rivers Visiting Dogs’ immersion into the Fort Wayne community gives the team members a chance to share their own stories and show that mental health issues don’t have to always be associated with negative memories.

Ginger is a Cavalier lap dog with a special talent for service to her owner. To some, she is a physical reminder that a person relies on her help to tackle their daily life. To others, she is a reminder that mental health issues don’t have to be kept secret.

Charlotte Coburn, Ginger’s owner, reminisced on how she bonded with her service dog. “We got her for our 50th wedding anniversary… and that was ten years ago,” Coburn said with a laugh.

Raising awareness is a primary way to reduce the stigma around mental health. PFW’s counseling center is a free, convenient resource for the general public that has not been heavily advertised. Dr. Joel Givenz, a counselor at the center, explained how the “disease model” impacts a person’s choice to either stay quiet about the issues they tackle or not tackle them at all.

“Depending on cultural norms, sometimes a person will believe that counseling is for ‘crazy people’ or ‘really sick people’, so sometimes counseling is associated with severe mental illness, and that’s kind of the disease model,” Dr. Givenz explained.

Sending positive messages about seeking professional help is necessary for turning over the stigma. Tim Hill, counselor-in-training at PFW’s center, said that one benefit of forming a connection with a client is creating an environment for change.

“It’s no different than if they had a cold and they went to see their doctor,” said Hill, who juggles a full-time job and providing for his family with volunteering as a counselor. “It’s still just a part of who they are, and if they think they need to improve it… then we are here and willing to help.”

Three Rivers Visiting Dogs and local counselors are doing their part to foster a welcoming environment that reduces stigma. We as a community can get involved, too. Dr. Givenz said that the more that students are involved with awareness events, the more the stigma is lowered, concerns are normalized, and people can talk about those concerns without embarrassment.

Sessions at the counseling center can be scheduled in Room 131 of the Dolnick Learning Center for Mondays 5-8 p.m, Tuesdays 12-2:30 p.m, Tuesdays 5-8 p.m, Wednesdays 5-8 p.m, and Thursdays 5-8 p.m. Call 260-481-5405 for more information.

Dr. Givenz and Everest both said that mental health professionals are transforming the way they think about treatment, and the presence of therapy dogs raises awareness for visibility. “We see the importance of touch,” said Dr. Givenz. “When it comes to an animal, it could be doing a lot of work for a person just to have something soothing nearby.”

Everest founded Three Rivers Visiting Dogs in 2000. He and his team of about 100 members go to suicide prevention events, health fairs, hospitals, and nursing homes throughout the year. The team’s many experiences led the founder to share stories that show the mental and physical impact dogs in his organization have on the public.

“We’ve had people in comas waking up petting a dog,” Everest said. “We can’t explain it… but they do a big thing.”

Everest said that he has been on several visits to people with Alzheimer’s who remember their time with the dog, and even the pet’s name, but not anything else. In another instance, the dog encouraged progression in a burn victim. Over the course of several visits, the patient went from only being able to pet the dog with one finger to embracing the animal with strength.

The team trains dogs in an immersive eight-week program to determine how they react and interact. A simple test such as bringing the dog in a hospital elevator can play a factor in whether they become certified therapy dogs or not.

Ginger passed the program with flying colors despite her own disability. “She’s completely deaf, but you would never know,” Everest said. “She loves what she’s doing.”

Three Rivers Visiting Dogs works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness by attending support groups for people with mental illness and their families every Tuesday night to reduce the stigma.

NAMI provides free crisis counseling by texting NAMI to 741-741. The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273 TALK (8255).

Editor’s note: A related version of this news article was featured on the Journal Gazette’s Nov. 12 edition.

Closure of College Access TV impacts activities on campus

By: Sam Frick

This video describes the impacts of the closure of College Access TV (CTV) at Purdue University Fort Wayne. CTV unexpectedly closed in the Summer of 2019, which led to the firing of all of the CTV staff, and leaving the basement floor at Helmke Library mostly empty. Rooms and equipment that could have been in use by faculty and students (CTV Edit Suite, the Broadcast Newsroom) are all locked up, and access is restricted.

Appreciation for the recognizable Notre Dame stadium

Created By: Jeffrey Collier Jr.

Almost 90 years ago the Fighting Irish played their first home at Notre Dame stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The original seating capacity was 60,000 and stayed that way for six decades. It patterned one scale around the stadium and was built according to the design of Michigan Stadium.

More than 21,000 seats were added for the 1997 season, which increased the capacity to over 80,000.

Notre Dame Stadium Usher and graduate John McDonald added, “the original stadium was made up of over one million bricks mixed with limestone to add more of an Indiana feel since we don’t like those guys from Michigan”.

After the Campus Crossroads renovation to add more lighting, the number of seats decreased to 77,622. The playing surface was changed to artificial turf in 2014 after 84 seasons on natural grass.

The stadium is known for its view of the large mural looking over the stadium called Touchdown Jesus.

There have been 249 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium. The stadium host other sporting events such as soccer and hockey.

“No matter who plays in this stadium or how much it changes it will always be the house that Knute Rockne built.”

Students find opportunities at job and internship fair

By: Troy Gooch

Students gathered at the annual Mastodon Job and Internship Fair earlier this month to look for job opportunities, internships and connections. The event, organized by Career Services, took place on Tuesday, October 1, in the Lutheran Health Fieldhouse at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

The Mastodon Job and Internship Fair had 145 employers from the state of Indiana who were looking to hire students on the spot, and for interns during the upcoming summer. Students and outsiders had various opportunities to connect with recruiters throughout the day.

Leading up to the fair, Career Services provided events for students to get prepared for their upcoming week by offering free haircuts and the opportunity to get their resume reviewed by a professional.

Susan Byers, the executive director of Career Services at Purdue University Fort Wayne provided some insight on the Mastodon Job and Internship Fair. Byers said the event is beneficial for all students because seniors can make relationships with employers for the near future, while underclassmen can also network and become more seasoned to the whole process of this event.

Career Services is an on-campus department that prepares students for the job market. They help create resumes and provide practice job interviews which prepares students for the future. Byers said that the staff also talked with employers about other opportunities to connect with students, such as the ‘Immersion Excursions’ and the ‘Lunch and Learn’ events. This allows recruiters the opportunity to spend more time connecting with students one-on-one.

Many of the 145 employers at the Mastodon Job and Internship Fair – 20 more than last year provided their company’s understanding of what they want from an employee.

“When looking for an employee, I am a firm believer that experience is a plus, but I don’t necessarily think that it is a definite deal breaker,” said Renna Jennings, a human resources generalist from Fort Financial Credit Union. “I obviously think you hire on character and train on experience.”

“It is always nice recruiting from your backyard, and the several employees from Purdue University Fort Wayne have been reliable for our company in the past,” Jennings said.

Another popular company that students talked to was The Autism Society of Indiana. Samantha Drudge a supervisor at this organization, said they have many internships and job opportunities available for students upon graduation.

“We are looking for someone who can be fun and outgoing,” Drudge said. “We work with kids and adults with autism so, finding that person who can help others out with a outgoing personality is a perfect balance.”

With many companies attending this event, there were plenty of opportunities for undergraduates to connect with recruiters and find employment. Many students graduating this semester came out in search of a job. Faculty, staff and students had the opportunity to connect with recruiters during this event.

Kolbie Knorr, a senior business major, said she felt prompted to go to this event because she had previously worked with one of the companies at the Fair and wanted to tell the recruiter she is still interested in the company upon graduation.

“Today was extremely beneficial to me,” Knorr said. “I was able to meet my number one company, and I had the opportunity to meet other recruiters that I was not aware of until I came here this afternoon.”

The next Mastodon Job and Internship Fair organized by Career Services will occur on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

A night to cherish

Purdue University Fort Wayne hosts first Students with Families Night of the semester. The next event will be Nov. 2 for a skate night at the Roller Dome North.

By: Moriah Weaver

Purdue University Fort Wayne students and faculty gathered at Crazy Pinz for a night of fun festivities on Sept. 27 during the first “Students with Families Night” of the fall semester.

Those who attended the event from 6-8 p.m. enjoyed free pizza, beverages, and passes for bowling, laser tag, mini golf and the arcade.

The university has been offering these free and fun-filled nights to students for several years, allowing families to engage in unique and entertaining activities each month. The program, which is led by Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, was created with the goal to provide leisure activities for families that would not typically be able to spend nights out together—low-income families in particular.

According to Bachelor and General Studies Student Outreach Coordinator Cicelle Beemon, who currently plans and organizes each of the Students with Families Nights, the periodic events have attracted several regular attending students and their family members during her few years in the position.

She said it takes an immense amount of time to put together such events, but the outcome and grateful reactions from students are worth the work invested.

Beemon also explained that she feels it is of growing importance that students have this time to spend with loved ones as they get busier and pick up more responsibilities.

One Purdue University Fort Wayne student who attended the Crazy Pinz event, Nicole Bowe, definitely knows and appreciates the value of the night.

She was able to enjoy the Students with Families event with her 1-year-old daughter, Meris. The two spent time watching friends and family compete in rounds of bowling while indulging in their pizza.

Nicole Bowe poses for picture with 1-year-old daughter, Meris Bowe.

Bowe said that it can be hard to take her daughter out much while in college full-time, so she takes full advantage of the Students with Families nights.

According to Bowe, the time spent with her daughter is priceless. She hopes to savor every moment she can while bonding during fun activities.

It appears the difficulty families face with spending time together is not limited to Purdue University Fort Wayne students and their families, either. According to a 2018 study conducted by Visit Anaheim, the average amount of quality time American families spend together each day during the week is about 37 minutes.

The study also found that 60% of American families describe their lives as ‘hectic’ and attribute the lack of quality time to busy work and school schedules.

Beemon and Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs recognize the struggle American families face and created the Students with Families Nights as a response to this dilemma. The faculty believes in the positive impact a night out with loved ones can have and will be continuing to host the events periodically throughout the school year.

The next Students with Families Night will be Nov. 2 for a skate night at the Roller Dome North.

Dates and times for the rest of the Students with Families Nights during the fall can be found in the Purdue University Fort Wayne Fall Programming Guide. For more information, visit