By Adam King
The kids Theresa Ferrari sees at her numerous camps all laugh, run, jump, sing and play like any other children. But because they are all from military families their stressors are quite unique.
Often one parent is raising the kids while the other is deployed. Sometimes both parents are deployed and a relative is designated acting parent. And then there are the families in which one parent is all that is left after the other died while serving.
“Increasingly in the last decade, a parent has gone off for a year or more, and that has taken its toll on families,” said Ferrari, an associate professor and 4-H youth development specialist in OSU Extension, which runs the camps and is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. “We are working with kids and families who are interested in building resiliency to get them through their military life as well as life in general.
“As I like to say, military kids have an extra layer on their cake.”
Most of the children in Operation: Military Kids come from National Guard or Reserve families, which often don’t have the established support network active-duty families have who are posted on or near military installations.
Ferrari said OSU Extension hosts different camps throughout the state — some weekend camps for families and summer five-day camps for kids — to be more accessible. The idea is to give these kids and families as much opportunity to build a web of support among peers who are managing similar circumstances.
Operation: Military Kids (Fund No. 311984) is just one of the many deserving funds Ohio State faculty and staff can contribute to during the 2014 Campus Campaign, which runs through April 30.
The camps, which began 10 years ago, have a mixture of counselors with military family or 4-H backgrounds. Ferrari remembers one counselor in particular who used to come to the day camps with his dad, who worked with the National Guard’s youth programs.
In April 2012, just before he was to start his first summer as a counselor, his father was killed in Afghanistan.
“In that group of campers and counselors, he was just like anybody else,” Ferrari said. “What was the worst year of his life, he turned into something good, and I’m not sure any of the other kids knew that was part of his story. The fact he could even do that was an amazing demonstration of resilience.”
About 3,000 kids and adults attended Ohio camps last year, and each family is charged only a small registration fee to attend. The bulk of the camps are funded by grants, donations and the partnership with the National Guard.
“I don’t look at it as spending money but as investing it in a child,” Ferrari said. “I’ve watched these kids grow up and go to camp as a 9-year-old and come back as counselors and role models. Camp is kind of magic — ordinary things that work their magic on kids.”
Vet Med Center’s needed expansion
The building that houses the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) is more than 40 years old. For some buildings, that’s not too bad, but the growth in companion animal visits — 30 percent in the past five years — at the nation’s fifth-ranked College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as changes and improvements in diagnostics, equipment and technology, has created a desperate need for new facilities.
The VMC’s Enhancement and Expansion Project (Fund No. 314090) hopes to raise $30 million to create a larger, warmer and friendlier lobby and reception area for the more than 27,000 dogs and cats and their owners who visited the VMC last year. In addition, this project will add more examination rooms, update and expand the surgical suites and recovery rooms, create enriched teaching and learning spaces and build a new structure along Coffey Road to house offices so the front of the medical center can be cleared for the lobby expansion.
“Often during appointments, animals are taken to treatment areas in a different section of the building while owners wait in the lobby,” said Karin Zuckerman, VMC director. “We’re hoping to make the space much more comfortable for waiting, with separate areas more like the rooms in a house, so we’ll have areas that would remind you of living rooms, family rooms and studies.”
There also will be a special waiting area for cats, which now must mix with canine patients when checking in. The VMC will expand to 28 exam rooms from 16, have a larger intensive care unit and specialty services will have their own treatment areas. The renovations are expected to begin before the end of the year.
The Enhancement and Expansion campaign has raised $8 million so far, but with the majority still to be raised, every little bit can help, Zuckerman said.
“We have the best clinicians and staff, and we need a facility to match the medical care we’re delivering,” she said. “I hope our university family will want to help us create that.
“One of the things we have learned that surprises us is a lot of people don’t realize the VMC exists. If your animal needs specialty or emergency care, we’re here for you. We don’t want to be the best-kept secret in town.”
This year the Veterinary Medical Center began offering a 10 percent discount on all services to faculty and staff.
“You hope you never have to bring an animal here, but when they’re in need, we’re the best option in town, and this project is going to help us improve our facilities to better accommodate our clients and patients.”
To give to these or any funds in the Campus Campaign, visit campuscampaign.osu.edu.