Undergraduate psychology student Christian Melton is passionate about animals. So for his Engaged Service Learning project he wanted to use his communication, marketing and public outreach skills as well as his knowledge of the human mind to improve the welfare of animals. So, he reached out to the Contra Costa Humane Society (CCHS), a Pleasant Hill based, nonprofit organization that assists dogs and cats in Contra Costa County in need of homes, neutering and long-term care. “This organization is unique in that it supports rescued animals for an unlimited amount of time, until they find a home.” Christian and CCHS Executive Director, Cheryl Nickerson met to discuss how his particular talents would best serve the organization. Together they decided Christian would lead the organization’s social media outreach for the Giving Tuesday event that took place on November 28, 2017.
Christian, having started college at age 16 and after only three years of study at JFKU is completing his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, offers impressive skills. Therefore, Cheryl turned creative control of the project over to him noting “you get the best work from a volunteer when you allow them to bring their expertise to the table.” Christian proceeded to develop a social media outreach strategy that included Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Twitch, wrote content designed to engage the public in the one-day crowd funding event then adapted content to suit multiple online platforms and target a diversity of social media followers. “Since my work revolved around online communication, I made sure the writing was appropriate for all genders, ethnicities, and sexualities,” says Christian. Cheryl notes, “Christian offered his expertise and another set of hands to an organization with very limited staff.” He brought his unique knowledge of younger people and the social media tools they are using.”
Christian’s tenure at CCHS was successful for everyone involved. Not only did it raise $2,870 (in one day!) for the organization and engage new audiences to support the cause by inviting them to give in new ways, the experience was professionally valuable for Christian. He says, “I’ve been able to apply my skills to make sure CCHS’s public communication is sincere, accurate and effective while validating that my input is valuable in a professional setting.” Cheryl adds, “We treated Christian like the professional that he is.” He was a breath of fresh air for our organization. I want Christian to continue volunteering with us for as long as he can.” If he can help us more in the future, that will be wonderful.” Christian sums up his experience by saying, “I now have a much deeper and more personal appreciation for the work that the Humane Society does in the community; I really feel connected to the cause.”