“Star Wars” and service dogs with Sarah Metcalf

“The first time I read that the graduation ceremony was scheduled for May the fourth, I knew someone had to make a t-shirt about that,” she said with a mischievous smile. Sarah Metcalf, an elementary education senior, sat in the back of her hatchback between two boxes full of “May the 4th be with you, t-shirts. “I never made a shirt before, and never really sold stuff before, but I’m a big ‘Star Wars’ fan and I couldn’t let go of the idea.”

“The first time I read that the graduation ceremony was scheduled for May the fourth, I knew someone had to make a t-shirt about that,” she said with a mischievous smile. Sarah Metcalf, an elementary education senior, sat in the back of her hatchback between two boxes full of “May the 4th be with you, t-shirts. “I never made a shirt before, and never really sold stuff before, but I’m a big ‘Star Wars’ fan and I couldn’t let go of the idea.”

“Graduation is on May 4th (Star Wars Day) and I could not find a shirt to represent that, so I set out to get one made, and none were Maryville College-related.” Sarah then told her mother and brother about the shirt idea and it instantly became a family project with a spontaneous brainstorming meeting.

“My family loved the idea and was extremely supportive,” said Sarah, “The top part of the design is a combo of several ideas. My brother did the bottom part and I filled in the words for the scroll.” Sarah’s mother researched the business side of the project. Their total business investment was buying the first 12 shirts.

“Sell those and we break even. I just wanted to sell at least 12 to get my money back. I didn’t know what to expect,” Sarah said. “We did an online survey and got about 60 folks saying they’d be interested. So, we opened our business. We advertised on campus and the orders started coming in. I sold 50 shirts in 14 days.”

They placed the order and waited. “When I first saw them printed for real, I was so excited. I just stood there and looked,” she explained. When you have an idea is one thing, but to see it, touch it for real, that’s a different experience.”

“I made $4 a shirt profit after the first 12. I got about $200 dollars … I want to do a t-shirt drive to support a non-profit!” It turns out this t-shirt venture is not the only family project happening at the Metcalf home. They are also a foster family for service dogs. They specialize in psychological service animals that provide emotional support for patients with traumatic brain injuries, certain types of autism, and much more.

“We get puppies from Wilderwood Service Dogs and teach them basic obedience commands and a few higher skills like walking on a leash,” said Sarah. “Teaching them how to play is my favorite part.”

“I take him in public to teach him how to interact with people and teach people how to interact with the dogs. The public needs to know the best reaction is to ignore the animal. The animals are working. They need to focus on the job.” While Sarah is teaching, she is also learning. “I learn so much from each dog.

“They’re part of our family for about nine months. We really get to know them. They each have unique personalities. It’s so hard to give them up but at least they’re going away to help someone, and that’s cool.”

The success of her first t-shirt drive has Sarah considering another. She explained why she did it and what it taught her. “This was the first time I had a ‘brilliant’ idea exciting enough to take action.” She said, “When I have another one, I’ll be more inclined to do something about it now.”

“Taking action made all the difference. My action is to support service dogs. Now I found another way to do that. I’d never know if I hadn’t tried. ‘I never tried that before,’ is the worst of all excuses. Don’t let fear of failure stop you, take action to make a positive impact.”

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