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Jablonski builds new cat playground for ARL

Contributed photo Marek Jablonski stands in front of the cat playground he built as an Eagle Scout service project for the Marshalltown Animal Rescue League.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference — particularly at an animal rescue shelter, where cats, dogs and more wait for their lives to change through possible adoption.

Marshalltown High School student Marek Jablonski took the little things to another level when he helped renovate the Marshalltown Animal Rescue League’s cat playpen as his Eagle Scout public service project.

According to the Animal Rescue League’s volunteer coordinator, Jessica Slifer, it was Jablonski who initiated contact with the organization and offered to help out in a particular way. He wanted to by provide a better environment for the cats and kittens who are in the center awaiting adoption.

Jablonski was required to perform a service project as part of his place in the Eagle Scouts and as an avid fan of cats, he was more than happy to help out.

“It was in dire need of some help,” Slifer said of the room. “Before, we had some plastic shelving and just put in a bunch of toys for them to play with.”

Marek Jablonski cutting wood he used to make a cat playground for the Marshalltown Animal Rescue League. Jablonski did it as his Eagle Scout service project.

Jablonski said his brother tipped him off to possibly helping the ARL in mid-summer, and he went about getting a proposal approved.

“It would have been August when I got the proposal,” Jablonski said. “So it was around then that I got the idea for the jungle gym.”

As a part of the renovation, Jablonski installed a wall climbing platform for the kittens. The jungle gym- like structure allows them to go from the floor to near the room’s ceiling in a matter of moments. It also keeps the critters occupied and happy during their stay, Slifer said.

After adding volunteer hours in 2019 and expanding the opportunities for others to help, Jablonski’s contribution wasn’t taken lightly.

“He sent me the visual ideas of what he was planning,” Slifer said.

Jablonski’s care for the well-being of kittens was a boost to the entire shelter, Slifer said, as the animals getting better living areas can improve the morale of employees as well.

It didn’t take too long to actually put the project together once it was approved, Jablonski said.

“The majority of the work got done in a single week, but before that, there were several days of just buying lumber or cutting it,” Jablonski said. “Then one week is when it all went up.”

The cats have been living it up with the new wall playground.

Jablonski said the last time he went to the ARL was a week after it was completed, and he saw three of the kittens sitting on one of the steps, staring out the window. He said the ARL volunteer present said the cats played on them all the time, showing its worth.

However, constructing playpens doesn’t seem to be in the junior’s long-term plans. Jablonski said his long-term goals are more in the fields of electrical and computer engineering than any type of construction – but he added that it was a fun detour to take.

“I like building things, but it’s not my primary interest,” Jablonski said.

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Contact Noah Rohlfing at 641-753-6611 or nrohlfing@timesrepublican.com.