The Port Arthur News
Sara Gubala of Nederland, instructor of political science at Lamar University, and her springer spaniel, Kennedy, have a way of brightening up a room. Through their service in the community they have brought smiles to children and seniors and helped motivate injured patients toward recovery.
The pair was honored with Lamar University’s Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award for Lamar University at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the University Reception Center of the Mary and John Gray Library.
Gubala said it is a great honor to be selected for the award for their community service.
“Julie and Ben Rogers have done a lot for the community, and to be put in a category with them through this award is really amazing,” said Gubala. “The volunteer work that I have done has always been a part of my life, so it was a real honor to be recognized for that.”
Gubala and Kennedy are a registered pet therapy team, certified by Intermountain Therapy Animals and Pet Partners, formerly Delta Society. They are also involved with a local volunteer chapter called Paws4Love/hphp. The duo volunteers at Baptist Hospital a few days a week on the pediatrics and rehabilitation floors. Gubala said a therapy animal can often motivate patients to perform better during rehabilitation sessions.
“On the rehab floor, she is working with patients who are learning to walk again, who may have had a stroke, and who have limited mobility or communication,” she said. “But a dog can get them more motivated to try to do things. Some patients will walk the entire length of a hallway because they are more motivated by walking a dog.”
The children on the pediatrics floor are always excited to see Kennedy, Gubala said.
“Kennedy likes going to the hospitals and volunteering,” she said. “For Halloween, she wears a costume and participates in a parade for the kids.”
Kennedy and Gubala have also raised money for cancer research. Gubala served as the 2011 chair for the Bark for Life walk, an event organized by the American Cancer Society. They also participated in Paws 4 Love’s Dogtober Fest, and do volunteer work at their church St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Nederland, and through various organizations on campus. Gabula also participates in several church choirs including the Diocese of Beaumont’s diocesan choir, the Lamar Catholic Student Center and St. Charles choirs. She is advisor for the College Republicans, the Public Affairs Society and the Zeta Lambda chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the honor society for political science.
Terri Davis, chair and associate professor of political science at Lamar, said Gubala is truly a jewel, showing exceptional commitment to the university and to the education of her students.
“She can always be counted on to volunteer for a number of activities ranging from serving as a marshal at commencement, to welcoming students at Open House, to sponsoring organizations such as the Public Affairs Society and Pi Sigma Alpha,” Davis said. “She is also well known and respected for her deep commitment to animal protection, care, and training. She is truly an asset to the Beaumont and Lamar communities.”
The Rogers family established the award in 1979 to encourage Lamar University faculty and staff to volunteer their service and talents to the community. The Lamar University Foundation maintains an endowment that provides for the award.
Other recipients are Kevin Doss of Lamar State College-Orange Lizzette, Rivera-de la Rosa of Lamar Institute of Technology and Mary Wickland of Lamar State College-Port Arthur.