Students volunteer at Elmwood Park Zoo

By Trevor Wallace
November 12, 2009

Imagine a couple weeks back that it’s All Hallows Eve, and what more could any child ask for than Cabrini students, s’mores and jaguars? Yes, jaguars, and an assortment of other animals as Cabrini students helped with the annual Nightmare at Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. Students used this as a time to give back to the community and pass out some candy to trick-or-treaters along the way.

For the past several years, Cabrini students have been in an ongoing partnership with Norristown, providing different services to the schools as well as Elmwood Park Zoo.

“SEM 300 students are able to help children with their homework after school,” Riz Ishmail, senior Spanish secondary education major, said.

Ishmail took part in Elmwood Park Zoo’s Halloween event. Along with being able to participate in the Halloween festivities, Ishmail saw this as a chance to reunite with the children from last year’s event.

“Seeing the kids again was great, and I love helping people,” Ishmail said.

Volunteer work is extremely important to Ishmail, who wishes that if “I had more time, I would volunteer more than I already do.”

Sean Mellon, a worker at Elmwood Park Zoo, went along with Cabrini students during the event.

“Having Cabrini students together with the kids was a great help,” Mellon said.

Along with the students, Mellon and Elmwood Park Zoo had different contests and crafts for the kids. Children could paint and carve pumpkins, as well as gather around the campfire to hear those beloved spooky stories while dressed in an assortment of spirited costumes.

Matt Slutz, senior English major, took this as an opportunity to visit the zoo he once loved as a child. A first time volunteer at Elmwood Park Zoo, Slutz found time to roast a couple marshmallows with the kids.

“It was a chance to reach out to Norristown’s community,” Slutz said.

Slutz also spoke with many of the parents at the event, letting them know about the programs Cabrini was offering to their community.

Elizabeth Miller, VISTA volunteer for the Wolfington Center, coordinated the event. She has been working the event for the past several years and is trying to encourage more students to reach out to neighboring communities.

“We are trying to come up with more activities students can participate in. If students have any ideas they are more than welcome to visit us in the Wolfington Center,” Miller said.

Not only can students reach out in Norristown for events like the Halloween night at Elmwood Park Zoo, but they can also help in after school programs, centers for domestic violence and homeless shelters Students can volunteer on a weekly basis, so that they may work around their schedules and still be part of something bigger in surrounding communities.

For more information, visit the Wolfington Center located on the third floor of Founder’s Hall, or email Elizabeth Miller at

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Trevor Wallace

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