Have you met Barbara?


TALES BLOG /Meet Mrs. Barbara

Written by HIP Executive Director, Margaret Stinnett


It is no secret that the mission and work of Hand in Paw is carried out by our incredible volunteers. We are recognizable by our gold shirts, gold bandanas on our pets and smiles on our faces. The dedication of our volunteers allows us to keep our services free to the community. Other volunteer opportunities include board service, event helpers, and garden volunteers.


Have you met Barbara?

Well, Barbara is a whole different level.


Barbara Young is a retired woman of great wisdom and heart.

Barbara does not volunteer as a therapy team. Barbara reports to the Hand in Paw campus about 3 days a week – ready to help with anything. For years, she has done the tasks that require extra time, like shredding documents, entering reports, scanning all sorts of things. Barbara takes on special projects, like researching grant opportunities, and her work last year was simply amazing. She took the time to organize over 25 years of archival materials – including the initial proposal for Hand in Paw to provide Animal-Assisted Therapy services to UAB in 1996. Every promotional item, newspaper article, photograph, Picasso Pets program and hundreds of letters of support have been carefully preserved and saved inside binders to record the history, ups and downs and success of Hand in Paw. Barbara accepted this assignment gladly and enthusiastically. She is an incredible lady with a ‘can-do’ attitude and heart that is warm enough to make the HIP building a joyful place.


Barbara has the only office in the building, (yes – she works so much she has an office but no salary) that features the love and dignity of cats.

Barbara loves cats. She also LOVES dogs. She always keeps a bowl of dog treats in her office. After the staff dogs go out for a potty break, they report to Barbara’s office, obey her “sit” command and she gives them treats. These are happy moments in all our lives, especially for our dogs.


The chance for Barbara to really shine was the establishment of the Hand in Paw library!

Barbara also volunteers with the Literacy Council and is passionate about reading and inspiring children to learn. Barbara created the system for arranging the books, carefully cataloging every book according to age and/or reading capability. When we receive many books due to a generous Book Drive, Barbara logs in the new books and carefully places them in perfect order. She does this with a smile! Fun fact: Barbara reads most of the books we receive – and is especially interested in books that have historic content, educate children on diversity, and inspire children to love and care for pets. With a new shipment of books, you can hear Barbara laughing at a funny book as she adds them to the HIP library.


Barbara attends weekly staff meetings.

At Hand in Paw, we are blessed with a wide generational group. The younger staff learn from the more experienced. The experienced staff learn from the new. Barbara spent last year sharing motivational messages from the archives. This year, Barbara shares a book or two that is in our HIP library – books that she read and enjoys – and wants us to know about.



I could not afford to pay a Barbara. Someone with her heart and talent must show up one day and you look at it like you have just discovered a new source of integrity, compassion, kindness, and wisdom. Barbara is a gift to our staff. You might see her selling T-shirts at one of our fundraisers. You might see Barbara if you come by the campus and ring the bell – she will come out to greet you. She can be seen leaving the office around noon to hurry home to prepare a lunch for her husband – and then hurrying back to complete whatever task she began that morning.

A thousand times – we thank her. She never wants us to fuss over her – asks for very little – but really – you need to meet Barbara.