We are so glad you are among those receiving MHA's monthly e-newsletter. It is exciting for us to communicate the happenings at MHA with such a wonderful audience of readers. As you will see from the following articles, MHA continues to offer valuable and vital services to our most vulnerable neighbors and to the entire community. We hope you will take a few minutes each month to read through these articles and click through to get more information from MHA's website.
Thank you so much for being a friend to MHA and for your continued interest in our work! Your support makes a difference in the lives of
babies, children, youth, families, adults and older adults!
Please consider continuing your support by making on online donation or by responding to MHA's upcoming end of the year mailing. You make the difference!
All the best,
Joy & Sharon
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What kinds of pets are on wheels and where are they going?
Links pet owners and their pets to lonely and isolated residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals, as well as attendees at adult day centers and hospice patients. The program "licks loneliness" through the unconditional love of animals. It enriches the lives of both residents and trained volunteers through regular visits which offer social engagement and companionship.
* Reduce isolation and loneliness through social engagement
* Provide unconditional acceptance through contact with
Clients Being Served:
* Institutionalized elderly who are sometimes forgotten
* Individuals who are frail, ill, or dying
* Individuals who are depressed, withdrawn or experiencing
By the Numbers:
Q. How many people were visited by the volunteer pet/person teams?
A. From July 2009 through June of 2010, Pets on Wheels pet/person teams visited 3,021 clients!
Q. How many pet/person visiting teams are there for Pets on Wheels and how many hours did they provide? What is the value* of all those volunteer hours?
A. There are approximately 75 pet/person visiting teams at any given time. Last year (from July 2009 to June 2010) they provided 1,482 hours of service with an estimated value of almost $31,000. This significantly leverages the funds raised from generous donors (this program is run solely on charitable contributions).
Q. Does pet visiting make a difference in people lives?
A. Anecdotal information from volunteers and from facility activity directors indicates that the volunteer/pet teams make a quality difference in the lives of those who are ill, isolated and institutionalized. Research indicates that contact with animals has very positive effects, including:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Increasing ability to socially engage – especially for people with dementia
- Decreasing anxiety
- Increasing mobility through tactile stimulation
For more information about MHA's Pets on Wheels program, Click Here or call (301) 424-0656, ext. 507.
By Laura Murphy Baldridge
Laura Murphy Baldridge with Darcy and Zorro
"You know, I do believe I'm feeling better
since I started patting this dog. How is
that?" I smiled at her and said, "Darcy is a
healer." She smiled back and said, "Well,
she sure healed me! I'm feeling much better
and I sure am glad you stopped by."
We begin our weekly visits in the bingo hall, before the game begins. That way we can visit many friends at once, moving from table to table, from wheelchair to wheelchair. As soon as we enter the room, friends start calling out to us and are so excited to see the dogs. While they pet Darcy and Zorro, the residents and I chat about whatever is on their minds---current events, the latest big storm, vacations we have taken, and pets that they have owned. It is such a warm and welcoming environment and the dogs' tails never stop wagging. Darcy kisses each familiar hand or face and often meets a new friend to love. Zorro is more partial to having his ears scratched or his belly rubbed and the residents are happy to oblige. Once the game begins, we head off to other parts of the building, to visit residents in their rooms or other gathering places.
After seeing everyone on the 1st floor, we head up to the 2nd floor, where Mr. M. waits in his chair by the water cooler. He is always ready with a cold drink for the dogs and we chat. We visit everyone there who wants us, setting aside a few extra minutes for special friends, Miss W., Miss H. and Miss A. We met them on our first visit and have been remained friends ever since. We talk about books, music and so much more. It’s always interesting and fun.
I still remember my very first visit to the nursing home three years ago. Darcy and I were taken around to meet all of the residents. Within weeks we had a list of 50 patients to visit. We are still visiting many people we met that day and have become good friends with them. My Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Darcy, led me to this volunteer experience. I rescued her at the animal shelter when she was about 3 months old. Over time, I realized Darcy was truly empathic. She knew when I wasn’t feeling well or if I was sad and she would stay by my side, watching over me and offering comfort.
My husband and I soon noticed that if someone visiting our house was sad or feeling poorly, Darcy would gravitate right to them and stay there for the duration of their visit. She would put her head in their lap, or lick their hand or just lean on them. We came to understand that Darcy has a special gift and we wanted to share it. That’s when I contacted Pets on Wheels. Darcy passed her test on the first try and we were on our way. Shortly thereafter, I rescued an American Cocker Spaniel and named him Zorro. I started training him immediately and he became a POW volunteer as well. He and Darcy make a perfect team; one being big and strong, the other being smaller and cuddly like a teddy bear. Zorro now has a fan base of his own.
Recently, one of the residents was sitting on her bed and she told me she was in low spirits. Darcy walked over to the bed and Miss E. patted the bedspread. Darcy got on the bed beside her and put her head on Miss E’s lap. She began petting Darcy. Then she looked up at me and said, “You know, I do believe I’m feeling better since I started patting this dog. How is that?” I smiled at her and said, “Darcy is a healer.” She smiled back and said, “Well, she sure healed me! I’m feeling much better and I sure am glad you stopped by.”
Another special friend we visit says to the dogs every week, while smothering them with kisses and hugs, “You are my darlings, my treasure. You mean the world to me and I love you.” She is right too---Darcy and Zorro are treasures to me and everyone they visit. Volunteering with Pets-on-Wheels has been such an enriching experience.
Pets on Wheels volunteers and animals are screened and training is provided. Teams are asked to commit to visiting two times a month for one year. For more information about volunteering in the Pets on Wheels program, please click here.
MHA's OCTOBER Offerings: CEUs for Mental Health Providers
Mental Health First Aid for Social Workers - 12 CEUs*
October 8 & 15 from 9:15am - 4:15pm*
MHA's Offices - 1000 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville
Space is limited; preregistration is REQUIRED!
Click Here for more details and a registration form
* 12 Category I Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners. Participants must attend all of the listed sessions for the entirety of each session to receive the full 12 hours of credit. No partial credit will be given.
October Ethics Seminars on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010
Ethics and Mental Health Professionals - Includes an explanation of ethical values across disciplines as well as how these are impacted by social & agency norms
8:00 - 8:30am Check-in and Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 11:30am Program
*Click here for more information about CEUs and to register online
Ethics and Trauma Services
Identifies core values in delivery of trauma services and addresses ethics self-evaluation
12:30 - 1:00pm Check in and Light Refreshments
1:00 - 4:00pm Program
*Click here for more information about CEUs and to register online
Event Greeter (Morning & Afternoon Seminars):
5th Annual Ellen's Run Will Again Support MHA:
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Ellen's Run is an annual race held in honor of Ellen Vala Schneider. Ellen was a long time resident of Section V in Chevy Chase and a tireless volunteer in a wide range of community programs. Ellen's Run will benefit two charities in which Ellen was very active: Mental Health Association of Montgomery County (MHA), on whose Board of Directors she served, and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Community Scholarship Fund, of which she was Chair.
The 5K (3.1 miles) run and 3K walk will take place at 9am on Sunday, October 10, 2010 at Candy Cane City (7901 Meadowbrook Lane in Chevy Chase). Registration by October 8th is $25 for adults, $15 for students (12-18) and $10 for children (3-12). Rates will go up after October 8th. See the event website for more information and to register.
Thank you so very much for your interest in MHA, its programs and services. We hope that you have enjoyed this e-newsletter and that you will share it with others - please do so by clicking on the "Forward email" link below.
Next issue, learn more about MHA's Representative Payee program!
Please remember to continue your support by making an online donation or by making your contribution after receiving the upcoming end of year mailing.