Since March, we’ve all been faced with extremely difficult circumstances that have changed life as we know it. But within difficulty lies opportunity – a chance to overcome obstacles, grow and learn.
With the help of our supporters and volunteers, Hand in Paw has adapted the way we provide comfort and joy to ensure the safety of our teams and clients. We now offer our Animal-Assisted Therapy programs virtually, train volunteers virtually, and are even introducing a brand-new level of Therapy Team – the Virtual Therapy Team!
During difficult times it can be so easy to focus on the negative, but the staff at Hand in Paw is focusing on the positive because there is so much to be thankful for right now. Below are some words of encouragement from the staff – our hope is that as you read their messages, you too are encouraged by all the good things happening at Hand in Paw. Your support, after all, has made all of this possible.
Stacey Roudebush, Volunteer Coordinator: “I'm loving planning and assisting our volunteers with visiting our community virtually! Although COVID-19 has paw-sed all in-person visits, we're still spreading joy and comfort through a computer screen!”
Beth Franklin, Founder/Director of Donor Relations: “The training to be a Virtual Visit Therapy Team is very exciting to me! This opens opportunities for additional teams to provide meaningful services.”
Ashley Foster, Development Director: “The virtual development of our Sit, Stay, Read! program! With schools closing early this past spring due to the pandemic, children struggling with their literacy skills need our assistance more than ever.”
Brittany Filby, Communications Director: “I am excited about Therapy Teams visiting virtually in nursing homes! Our senior citizens are unable to see their families in-person right now and need the loving comfort only a therapy animal can provide.”
Amanda Puskar, Financial Director: “Thank you! It seems simple, but a Thank You can go a long way. Our volunteers are one-of-a-kind! ”
Vicki Shay, Technology Administrator: “I am so grateful for your commitment to helping your community and your willingness to adapt and find new ways to continue to give back.”
Kiersten Atkinson, Director of Volunteers and Programs: “I am thankful for our volunteers that care and bring joy to our community. I am especially grateful for your generosity and support over the last few months! Staying connected to you, hearing your encouragement, seeing your smiles on zoom, and hearing your laughter has been inspirational!”
Margaret Stinnett, Executive Director: “Train for virtual visits! There are plenty of opportunities for you and your partner to serve the community. We need and appreciate you.”
Carol DeVelice, Tuscaloosa Coordinator: “The first time I got to do a virtual Sit, Stay, Read visit with the Boys and Girls Club of AL - Seeing and hearing the children we have worked with before and their joy in turning the book around to show Maggie what the pictures were to help explain the story to the dog. Not only was the reader engaged, but the rest of the children were as well.”
Stacey Roudebush, Volunteer Coordinator: “Back in March, Kiersten and I did a test run of virtually connecting to the UAB ICU COVID Unit. Although we didn't have HIP dogs on the video call, the staff asked to see our own dogs at home. When we shared our pups, you could hear the staff's excitement and see their eyes light up (even while wearing face masks and shields)! It was a special moment.”
Ashley Foster, Development Director: “This has been a tough time for everyone, and there were several times during the pandemic that I felt sad, overwhelmed, and anxious about the future. Our Therapy Teams brought joy and comfort in these moments; all I had to do was watch a virtual visit video, check out photos of our Teams on Instagram, or read a post on our Tales Blog for my spirits to lift instantly.”
Kiersten Atkinson, Director of Volunteers and Programs: My mission moment was being able to help with Wings of Hope and saying thank you to the healthcare workers that brought their lovely pups to have photos taken in front of our amazing new garden.
Amanda Puskar, Financial Director: “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”
Beth Franklin, Founder/Director of Donor Relations: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow” - Mary Anne Radmacher
Margaret Stinnett, Executive Director: “At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” - Denzel Washington
Brittany Filby, Communications Director: “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”