A Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) student and the Mississippi State University FarmHouse Fraternity are working together to provide support to the TK Martin Center and the students to whom it provides services. While veterinary school itself comes with a significant amount of day-to-day responsibilities, Gunnar Dunnam has found a calling outside of the four walls of his classrooms and labs to give back in a tangible way to children in the community. One of those children is Emma Welch.
"I met Emma my freshman year at Mississippi State while working as a therapeutic horseback riding volunteer in West Point, Mississippi. Emma was not only my rider, but she was also a student at the T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability,” said first year DVM student Gunnar Dunnam. “It was during this time that I got to know Emma and her mom better, and I learned a great deal more about the important services provided by the T.K. Martin Center.”
Dunnam is the current Resident Advisor/House Dad for the Mississippi State University chapter of FarmHouse Fraternity. Prior to his role as resident advisor, he served as philanthropy chair for the chapter. He says that the fraternity was not satisfied with the impact they were having with their philanthropic efforts, so they began to develop a plan for making a larger impact.
“As it turns out, I didn’t need to look far,” said Dunnam. “My first thought was the amazing work that was literally happening right down the street from us at the T.K. Martin Center. So, we began this partnership with them.”
In less than a year, the fraternity has been able to donate a Rifton Activity Chair, which is designed to help with feeding, speech therapy, active learning, and for clients (like Emma) with sensory processing challenges.
“This photo was taken at a luncheon where $2,880 was donated so the center could buy new computers,” said Dunnam “This is an opportunity for our members to be able to get involved and have first-hand experience in making a positive difference in our community.”
In addition to the luncheon where the donation for the new computers was announced, Emma was also named honorary sweet heart of FarmHouse Fraternity, since she is the link that originally connected the two organizations together.
“Our family along with others from T.K. Martin Center have been so impressed with the willingness of the FarmHouse Fraternity to help our kids,” said Martha Ann Welch, Emma’s mom. “The T.K. Martin Center means so much to our family because of how Emma has grown – cognitively and physically – since she started attending in 2013 at the age of three. To see these young men and their passion for helping others in the community is amazing! We are just so appreciative of what they have done so far and for what I know they will continue to do.”
You can find out more information about the services provided by the T.K. Martin Center by visiting their website at http://www.tkmartin.msstate.edu/.