Volunteer Spotlights RSS Feed
Maureen and Gary Ross
Monday, March 29, 2010

Maureen and Gary are a couple who share a ‘Pet Partners passion’ and whose paths are very different.

Maureen grew up with dogs, noting “they were my safe place to be.” Gary ‘inherited dogs’ when he married Maureen in 1983. Maureen is a board certified counselor who integrates animal-assisted therapy into “just about anything I safely can, including my masters program at Antioch New England Graduate School.” She is the founder of Dog Talk & TheraPet, LLC, a training and wellness sanctuary for dogs and their humans. Gary is an engineer at Raytheon Company and enjoys “the cleansing feeling that therapy animal work brings.”

Maureen commented, “ Dogs have made a difference in our lives, so sharing them only makes sense. Together, Gary and I are stronger than alone. Dogs have guided us to paths that we never would have chosen on our own – including forming New England Pet Partners, Inc. We support each other, and the teams, by offering a place for teams to process their visits and oftentimes emotions, involved in the work. One example: as humans , we do not always get along with all people. It is the same with dogs. We have a pearl of wisdom, 10/5. At 10 feet be aware of what is going on around you. At 5 feet ask before stepping into someone else’s space.”

Maureen and Gary became involved with Delta Society about 20 years ago. During their tenure they have been Pet Partners, and licensed Evaluators and Instructors for the Pet Partners program, as well as heavily engaged with other related organizations including APDTR.E.A.D. and the Pet Wellness Festival. Last year alone, they participated in one event every month to help promote new people getting involved in the Pet Partners program.

Thank you Maureen and Gary for all the wonderful work you do!

Maureen has also written a book Train Your Dog, Change Your Life.

Jack Barron
Monday, March 22, 2010

Jack Barron has been a Pet Partner since 2004, with two Golden Retrievers, Joey and Sam. He whole heartedly supports Delta Society’s mission, and is a wonderful ambassador for the Pet Partners Program.

Jack is a Pet Partners Team Evaluator and also an active member of Delta Society’s National Pet Partners Team Evaluator Advisory Council. As the Director of UCLA’s People-Animal Connection, Jack has grown UCLA’s Medical Center visiting animal program to include over 50 Pet Partners teams!

Recently, Jack helped Delta Society with the coordination and filming of a Character Fantasy episode that will premiere during the showing of the movie 50 First Dates on the USA Channel, Thursday 3/26 9pm (8pm Central). This 5-minute episode focuses on a woman who wants to become a Delta Society Pet Partners Team with her Poodle. Jack not only appears in the episode providing training for the prospective handler and mock evaluation for the prospective team, but also helped with many of the pre-shoot logistics, including gaining permission for us to film a shadow visit of Pet Partners team Linda Rich & Abby in UCLA Medical Center.

Thank you Jack for all your support!

(Jack is pictured with his newest puppy, Shane.)

Lenore and Tatsuki Kobayashi
Monday, March 08, 2010

Lenore and Tatsuki have been married for nearly 40 years.  In 2005, each began to dedicate their time and share their special talents, volunteering with Delta Society in very different ways.

Lenore became a Pet Partners team with Ringo, a Saluki who is now deceased, and is currently a Pet Partner with two other Salukis - George and Fling.  She, with her animal partners, have visited at Overlake Hospital and currently are providing very special moments for patients and their families at Evergreen Hospice.  She also is a 'regular' helping to staff informational booths about Delta Society throughought each year.

Tatsuki, a professional photographer, has been photographing Delta Society events since 2005.  You also have seen his photographic work on the cover and inside our Interactions magazines - as well as the picture above.

Thank you Lenore, Tatsuki, George and Fling for all the wonderful work you do to provide comfort and smiles to so many!

Lisa Krier
Monday, March 01, 2010
This week the volunteer spotlight is recognizing Lisa Krier for her work at Delta Society’s headquarters in Bellevue, WA. Lisa comes into the office weekly and has become a real go to person. Whether its data entry, doing internet research, working with complex Excel files, or helping out in many other ways, Lisa does it – with a smile and a warm heart. If she can’t make it into the office, she’ll ask about projects she can do virtually.

Lisa has always had a passion for people and animals. She has volunteered at many children’s hospitals, rehabilitation centers and various different animal shelters. It was at one of those animal shelters that another volunteer told Lisa about Delta Society and the human-animal health connection. As she discovered more about Delta Society’s mission, she knew she had found her niche. She called Delta Society and started to volunteer. She has even started to train her cat McLovin to be a Pet Partner with her. Lisa says, “Learning all about the visits and how to handle the various situations has been eye opening.” She and McLovin are looking forward to passing their evaluation and so they can start visiting and helping enrich the lives of others. Lisa has also become an advocate for Delta Society by handing out flyers to local veterinarians, pet stores and shelters to help build awareness and get more people involved.

Thank you Lisa for your professionalism and dedication. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Candice Armstrong
Monday, February 15, 2010

Candice Armstrong, out of Birmingham, Alabama knows a thing or two about the Pet Partners program-and Delta Society’s staff is thankful for it. A Director of Volunteers for the affiliate group Hand-In-Paw since April 2008, much of Candice’s time is devoted to ensuring that volunteers are prepared for working in the field. She truly serves as a middle man between the affiliate and Delta Society– enabling volunteers to spend their time on what’s most important: bettering the lives of those in the community.


Hand-In-Paw currently has 113 active Pet Partners teams that go through Candice for help with registering to become a Pet Partners team or for individual questions as they arise. This service to the Pet Partners in Alabama helps ensure faster and smoother registration for all members of Hand-In-Paw. Candice holds the answers to many of the questions that Pet Partners teams have. The staff at Delta Society loves to work with her; she has a can-do attitude that makes what could be a meticulous task (keeping so many people up to speed and registered!), an organized and easy process.

Along with believing in the magic of animals, Candice has learned the true meaning of service by working with the volunteers– she credits them with showing her what life is all about. They give without expecting anything in return and are always ready to lend a helping hand whenever someone is in need. Candice feels fortunate to be able to work with cheerful givers and their furry, four-legged partners. She asks, “What person in my position couldn’t have a desire to do more for Pet Partners teams so that they can continue to heal and renew the community?”

Thank you, Candice for working day after day to better the lives of people in the community. The guidance you bring to 113 Pet Partner teams does not go unnoticed!

Inez Parsell
Monday, February 08, 2010
Inez Parsell lives in Sanford Florida, a suburb north of Orlando- it is almost as far away as you can get, in the continental United States, from Delta Society’s Bellevue, Washington headquarters. The distance hasn’t stopped Inez from missing a beat – she has been wholeheartedly involved with Delta Society since 1999 as Pet Partner and Evaluator. Inez learned about Delta Society by word of mouth. “When my dog Franny turned up on my doorstep one cold January night thirteen years ago, that was the beginning of our journey to animal-assisted therapy and hospice work. I had never had a large dog, never trained a dog, and had no idea what she would lead me to. During some of her obedience courses, one of the instructors at Best Paw Forward mentioned Delta Society; and I got more information from her after that class, later contacting Delta Society to learn about becoming a Pet Partner.”

In January of 2010 Inez retired two dogs; Sable, who had been a Pet Partner since 2005, and Franny, a Pet Partner since 1999. Throughout her tenure and experience with the organization, the largest impact on Inez was seeing how her three dogs were able to not just comfort a person, but also know when and how someone needed them. “After all” she says selflessly, “they are true partners in this endeavor.”

Inez’s dedication to the human-animal bond over the last 11 years makes her a tried and true supporter of Delta Society programming. She has stayed involved over the years because she “believes it is the very best of its kind of organization. Before becoming a Pet Partner, I investigated the other registries and found them to be not nearly so professional, thorough, or supportive of members as Delta Society.”

A sincere thank you to Inez for her long time dedication and support of the Pet Partners program – just imagine all of the lives that have been touched because of her volunteerism.  Nonprofit organizations, and Delta Society in particular, are lucky to have people like her who have so much compassion to share year after year.

Jan Vincent
Monday, February 01, 2010

Jan Vincent, CPDT-KA, a Delta Society Pet Partner and Team Evaluator was registered with her (now retired) Therapy Animal Mo, visiting Assisted Living Facilities for 7 years prior to becoming involved with Delta Society. After reading Delta Society's Student Manual Pet Partner Team Training Course, she was hooked. She feels that Delta Society addresses so many of the situations and issues that a team may encounter on visits, and likes that the screening protocols address not just the readiness of the companion animal, but the team as a whole.

Jan believes that, “Our animals relate to us and move us to do remarkable things.” She now helps more than 140 Pet Partner Teams visiting numerous acute care facilities, assisted living, adult day care, hospice, VA hospitals, after school programs, and literacy programs in 6 California School Districts through a Delta Society affiliate group, Animal Health Foundation. Jan volunteers her time to help Delta Society’s staff by assisting people with their packets while they are in the process of becoming Pet Partners. She saves Delta Society staff many hours of work each month by coordinating and sending multiple packets in at once. Before they reach Delta Society, Jan has already reviewed them for any inconsistencies that our staff would otherwise have to address. By saving time on the front end, Delta Society’s Programs Department can more seamlessly and quickly register Pet Partners.

Jan describes her work with Delta Society through Animal Health Foundation as, “not the culmination of one person's efforts, but the tireless efforts of so many very dedicated people that give their time and energy to make our organization's programs work.” She is certainly one of those very dedicated people – it is because of volunteers like her that Delta Society is able to reach so many more people every day.  Thank you, Jan, for the invaluable help you bring Delta Society!

Dr. Linda Buettner
Monday, January 25, 2010
Dr. Linda Buettner is a longtime Delta Society member with a vast amount of experience that she utilizes to educate people throughout North Carolina. She has been a Pet Partner for 11 years with the same black Labrador, and has gone on to become an Instructor, Evaluator as well as an AAT Professional. Because her Pet Partner is an elderly therapy dog, they currently focus on low key work and demos. The majority of Linda’s current volunteer work is teaching Pet Partner team training courses and mentoring colleagues in the Gulf Coast Pet Partners and the North Carolina Pet Partners. Linda states that she loves the following about Delta Society: “The consistent training and testing that takes place at both ends of the leash. The standards are very high and the Pet Partners course really prepares volunteers to enter healthcare arenas.”

Linda enjoys that her colleagues, “Are dedicated and such a pleasure to work with. I feel very proud of our many outstanding teams and some of the research we have done together. I sincerely believe in the Delta Society mission and I love the opportunities and connections the Pet Partners program provides me.”

Her Delta Society teachings don’t stop at Pet Partners though - as a college professor, she teaches her students side by side along with community members in the Pet Partners course. It is the perfect way for her to provide a model of community engagement, which inspires young adults about the powers of the human-animal bond.

Thank you, Linda, for your long time commitment to helping others in your community and for educating people of all ages about the power of the human-animal bond.

Sharon Shermerhorn
Monday, January 18, 2010
They say it takes one to know one. That is definitely the case with Sharon Shermerhorn, who a fellow Pet Partner recommended we profile. Sharon, who has trained guide dogs for many years with Guide Dogs of Texas, heard about Delta Society’s Pet Partners program and thought it would be perfect for her yellow Labrador, Floyd. Floyd was a service dog who had a career change due to his hips not being 100%. Floyd loves to work and loves people, and Sharon knew that he was too good of a dog to just sit at home. Floyd soon became a Pet Partner with Sharon and they joined the Woody Pet Therapy program at Dell Children's Medical Center (DCMC).

Sharon and Floyd look forward to Wednesdays. Sharon arranged with her employer to take Wednesdays off so she can take Floyd to visit all his friends at the hospital. For Sharon, being a Pet Partner is all about making people feel better and seeing a big smile when Floyd walks into their room.

“Sharon and Floyd are a truly committed team and they are there every single Wednesday to make rounds at the hospital. It's rare to find a team that gets established in a program so quickly and who visits as regularly as they do,” explained fellow Pet Partner Susan Ribnick.

Kudos to you Sharon for seeing so much potential in Floyd and becoming a Pet Partners team. DCMC is lucky to have such skilled and committed volunteers walking the halls each week.
Teri Burke
Monday, January 11, 2010
When you speak to a good deal of Pet Partners, you will find one humbled group of volunteers. Most credit the animal at the other end of the leash for the incredible work done on Pet Partner visits. Teri Burke is no exception. But with as much cheer as her little bundles of fur bring (and I do mean bundles, she has been known to carry her smaller dog, Holly, in a basket) people can’t help but smile at the warmth and comfort that Teri brings to a room herself.

Teri’s relationship with Delta Society in the Puget Sound area spans more than 15 years – in this time she has been involved as a Team Evaluator, Pet Partner Instructor and individual Pet Partner. Her most recent volunteer title includes Pet Partner recruiter, as she has whole heartedly been involved in coming to the Delta Society office once or twice a month to speak to Discovery Session participants. Most participants are looking into becoming Pet Partners themselves, and love the opportunity to listen to her stories and ask questions. Each group that comes in is moved – usually to tears- by Teri’s accounts of being a Pet Partner. She explains how the human-animal bond has pulled many people out of their shells, and has even changed the way that doctors and staff understood patients.

It is with these stories that Teri is luring in many more volunteers just like herself, who will go on to impact the lives of others for many years to come. Teri’s value is clear through her dedication and belief in Delta Society’s mission – and the dynamic and unique way that she and her animals have been able to help people for more than a decade.
Jean Sneed
Monday, January 04, 2010

About 20 years ago, Jean lost one of her pets and looked for help to deal with her grieving – this lead to her discovery of Delta Society. As an active business woman involved with the Beaverton, OR Chamber of Commerce, Jean later met Dr. Bill McCulloch, co-founder of Delta Society and also a chamber member, and began to learn more about our organization. Her passion for Delta Society grew and she even published an article about Delta Society in her company’s community newsletter. When she retired in 2008, Jean decided to become more involved with Delta Society, with a focus on increasing awareness of the organization. She kept her membership in the Chamber, but with approval, was now engaged as a representative of Delta Society. Jean says, “After that, things just blossomed. I love being part of this group and look forward to supporting the organization even more in the future.”

Jean makes presentations about Delta Society’s programs to various community groups, serves as a Table Captain inviting her friends and colleagues to our annual fundraising luncheon, helps staff Delta Society informational booths at local events, and is a member of the Caring Community Committee – inspiring others like she and her husband to name Delta Society as a beneficiary in their estate planning. THANK YOU Jean for all that you do! You are a wonderful inspiration for how people can get involved with Delta Society in many different ways.

Jean is pictured above with Rojo, a Pet Partner (therapy llama) who she met at a fundraising luncheon last year.

Shirley Davenport
Monday, December 28, 2009
It is a little known fact that Delta Society’s headquarter office (its only office, actually) is staffed by 13 employees – a low number when considering the more than 1,000,000 people across the globe who are touched by our programs. We are able to service as many people as we can in large part because of the support that our in-office volunteers, like Shirley Davenport, provide.

This week the volunteer spotlight is recognizing Shirley’s dedication to lending Delta Society’s staff a hand. Shirley has been an animal lover her entire life, and years ago raised dogs before they began training to be seeing eye dogs. For more than a year now, Shirley has come into the Delta Society office twice a week between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to assist the Programs Department by scanning and filling, as well as working on other projects as needed. Shirley singlehandedly helps make individual records more accurate and easier to find by inputting information electronically, a task that staff heavily relies on, but does not always have time to do. This service is a HUGE asset as it helps free up time for staff to better support our thousands of volunteers from California to Maine, from Washington to Florida – and in 8 other countries.

Thank you, Shirley! The staff at Delta Society is thankful for having you as a part of our office team!
Heddie Leger
Monday, December 21, 2009
Heddie has been a Pet Partner since 2003 with three different animal partners, Karli (retired), Hero and Halo. She is well known in Liberty, MO where besides managing a full-time career, she volunteers by taking her dogs to visit seniors at Cedars of Liberty and patients at Care Alternative Hospice. She also utilizes her Pet Partners abilities to help children improve their reading skills and works with special needs children at schools and libraries. Deborah Barber of Care commented, “It’s not only the therapy dog that makes a wonderful therapy team, it’s also the human partner as well. Heddie with her compassion and empathy for very sensitive situations is absolutely amazing to behold.”

In 2007, Heddie also became a licensed Pet Partners Team Evaluator and a licensed Instructor for Delta Society. Over the past 2 years, she has used many of her vacation days to travel across the state to help start a therapy animal program at St. John’s Hospital in Mountain View, MO and to conduct Workshops and Evaluations at Purina’s headquarters in St. Louis as the company encouraged their employees to become registered Delta Society Pet Partners. While Heddie would be the first person to downplay the important role she plays in her community, Heddie and her animal partners have been recognized with special awards by several of the places they visit for the tremendous impact they’ve made.

Heddie, you are truly an inspiration. Thank you for ALL that you do to help others lead healthier and happier lives!
Judy Peter
Monday, December 14, 2009
Picture this: A Delta Society volunteer at a university speaking engagement, spreading the good word about the human-animal bond to not only a class full of students, but to many others who have gathered outside the door and in the hallway to listen in as well. This was an experience Judy Peter had recently.

While Judy and Kala, a blonde, 100+ pound Labradoodle are Pet Partners who regularly visit with the elderly and patients with dementia, much time is spent volunteering for Delta Society in an entirely different way. Logging countless miles across the state of Florida, Judy travels to teach people young and old about her passion for Delta Society’s mission. Initially drawn to Delta Society because of an education and profession in nursing, and a true love of animals, she has found a special niche for herself in front of audiences. Judy is called upon to teach at anywhere from universities to Humane Societies across Florida. She aims to spread the knowledge of how the human-animal bond can “provide so much meaning for both ends of the equation, animal and human.” What an amazing way to expose people to the human-animal bond.

Judy, we applaud you and your special gift of being able to engage audiences. Thank you for the many ways you help spread awareness about Delta Society.

Susan Ribnick
Monday, December 07, 2009
When Susan Ribnick started campaigning to have a Delta Society program at Texas Neuro Rehab (TXN), it was an uphill battle. The hospital administrators had a “no more dogs” policy that she worked enthusiastically and persistently to change. “I proposed a detailed outline of what an effective and safe visiting program would be. It's a good thing to be backed by an organization like Delta Society because eventually they agreed....to ONE dog in physical therapy gyms and common areas!” She found that the staff at TXN was supportive and welcoming from day one. To Susan, this seemed like a good start.

Three years later the program has grown into four teams, which are now permitted to visit patients in their rooms as well as all areas of the hospital. What started as an idea that was begrudgingly agreed upon has become quite the opposite. “Oddly enough, if the dogs cannot make it to the hospital on a given week, we now get complaints! If that is not progress, what is?”

While Susan’s hope “is to find more committed Delta Society teams in Austin to visit Texas Neuro Rehab Hospital so that the dogs can do their good work” our hope is that her story of volunteerism inspires others to go out and try something new in their communities.

Susan’s story is surely an inspiration – and a testament to how the patience, enthusiasm and insistence of one person can lead to life altering rewards for many people in need. Thank you, Susan, for making a real difference in the lives of the staff and patients at TXN.
Judith Fagan with Marco & Wayne Terry with Daisy Mae
Monday, November 30, 2009

Judy and Wayne have been Pet Partners teams with their Pembroke Welsh Corgis (Marco and Daisy Mae) since 2004. Every Tuesday, for the past 5 years, they have visited patients and staff at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, WA. Their visits to patients who are recovering from strokes, surgeries, or heart attacks and who are in the rehab unit for physical or speech therapy “can help to lower the patients’ blood pressure, alleviate anxiety, and combat moments of depression”, notes Judy.

They each have logged in over 1,000 hours of volunteer service during this time. If in a given week one of the teams is unable to make their visit, the other team is sure to go – they ensure a Corgi is on the floor every Tuesday. The hospital staff refer to Marco and Daisy Mae as ‘our corgis’. Recently a brain surgeon made a special request for them to bring Marco and Daisy Mae for a visit with a brain-injury patient who was desperately missing his dogs. The surgeon felt this interaction would help with his patient’s recovery.

Judy and Wayne have also worked hard inspiring other responsible pet owners to look into becoming Pet Partners including arranging for a Delta Society presentation being made at their local Corgi Club meeting.  They also have helped with Evaluations, with Daisy Mae sometimes serving as the neutral dog.

Thank you Judy, Marco, Wayne and Daisy Mae for making a difference!


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