Marshall University’s Herd of Love club offers disabled students a hotline to contact if they need assistance making it to and from class, especially during the winter months.
Kayla Saintagne, president and founder of Herd of Love, said she encourages students to utilize the hotline.
“If you have a problem, like say for instance it’s snowing and you’re stuck somewhere in a wheelchair, and you need help, we’ll come and help you,” Saintagne, sophomore elementary education major, said. “Not just in a wheelchair, that’s the most common we’ve had, but anything you need that we can help with, we’ll do our best to help. Another big thing we do is class note takings for disabled students.”
Saintagne said she was inspired to create the club by her friend from her hometown of Miami, Florida, who was shot and became paralyzed from the waist down.
“His disability just took over my life, and his situation of going through depression, having suicidal thoughts and just actually going through that situation at a young age inspired me to give him a reason to wake up every day and be proud,” Saintagne said.
The club is working on becoming a resource center and collaborates closely with the Office of Disability Services. Saintagne said one of the biggest goals of Herd of Love is to give students with disabilities a place to feel confident and have their specific needs met.
Members have sponsored various baked good fundraisers and socials. They also participate in community service projects, like feeding the homeless and teaching elementary school students about different disabilities.
“Feeding the homeless was a great experience, because it allowed us to appreciate that even though we’re different, we’re still alike because everybody has the same mindset, the same heart and everybody has the same goal of giving back to the community,” Saintagne said. “I’m pretty big on giving back to the community. I love giving back.”
Other future events the club plans to have are a Winter Wonderland dance and a Friendship Fair, with different guest speakers and games for everyone to raise awareness for types of disabilities that may not all be visible.
Saintagne said she loves Marshall, but she thinks the university could accommodate more to students with disabilities.
“Overall, Marshall is great; it’s a great school,” Saintagne said. “However, when it comes to those with disabilities, I don’t feel like anyone singles them out, but I definitely feel like having more stuff meant for them, getting a little more support for everybody, getting more sponsorships and just sitting down and getting to know students with disabilities would be great.”
Herd of Love has about 15 active members, but Saintagne said they are always looking to grow. The club meets every first and third Wednesday of the month in Harris Hall 152.
“We just want to be happy about the Herd of Love and have people understand what we are and the purpose of our mission,” Saintagne said.
Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]