ICAN Furlough Volunteer Wins $3,000 Scholarship Award

Nira Grynheim is an Animal Sciences student at Purdue University who has been volunteering with ICAN for well over a year now, and we’re very excited to announce one of Nira’s latest accomplishments in winning the 2019 Give Back Scholarship provided by Doehrman Buba

Throughout Nira’s time with ICAN as a furlough volunteer, she’s played a crucial role in assisting our handlers’ training regimen by providing our dogs with extended trips outside of prison to reinforce what they’ve been taught. This type of real-world experience becomes invaluable to the dogs as we prepare them for their service dog graduation ceremony and their new owners. 

For Nira there’s a lot of intrinsic value in being an ICAN volunteer, and it goes much further than simply preparing service dogs for those in need. Helping to educate the dogs with the necessary skills they need to be successful with their future owners is, of course, a very rewarding volunteer service.  But, volunteering with ICAN has also helped Nira break down the stereotypes associated with inmates and further allowed her to understand how important it is to treat everyone with respect and dignity. 

ICAN has always prided itself on giving our handlers a second chance in terms of positively contributing to society.  And, time and time again we see our handlers be reinvigorated through their relationships with our dogs and their responsibilities as the primary dog trainer. The impact that our dogs have on the handlers, furlough volunteers, clients and really everyone involved with ICAN is immeasurable.  Recognizing these connections throughout the past year has helped inspire Nira to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences with a concentration in animal behavior. 

The Give Back Scholarship Nira was awarded entails a $2,500 scholarship for her studies, as well as a $500 donation to ICAN from the attorneys at Doehrman Buba. This scholarship is offered to Indiana college students who are active within their local community work, and we’re very excited that the services we provide at ICAN have been recognized with the 2019 award. 

Nira represents the vigor and overall spirit that ICAN stands for, and there’s one instance within her essay about the power of education that showcases an important learning experience for all of us. 

She wrote, “The inmate handlers learn animal training skills that will help them get a job when they are released from prison. The ICAN dogs learn skills that stimulate their brains which gives them the ability to help transform the lives of their clients. The clients learn how to use the knowledge the dogs have been taught in order to work as one in sync team which gives the client confidence and peace of mind. And I have learned that I have the power to treat everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve, whether they are disabled or incarcerated.”

There’s still a lot more that we can all learn through the multifaceted services provided by everyone involved with ICAN, and we can’t express enough how proud we are of Nira and her scholarship award as one of our furlough volunteers. Nira’s insightful nature is a prime example of what is possible at ICAN, and her experiences help show how the bonds between all of us and our dogs can help transcend all stereotypes. 

So from all of us at ICAN, we’d like to congratulate Nira on winning the 2019 Give Back Scholarship and thank the Doehrman Buba firm for their generous contribution and national recognition!