Sponsor a Client

My name is April Alford-Harkey and I am the chaplain for St. Vincent's Special Needs Services in Trumbull and Stratford, Connecticut. I provide pastoral care to special needs adult participants, students, staff, parents, and caregivers. We all know the mystical relationship that often occurs between animals and humans. A ministry dog will allow me to connect to non-verbal participants, those on the autism spectrum and others who have a difficult time communicating with the world. The ministry dog will also provide special needs participants with an unconditionally loving presence, and an often much needed opportunity to experience loving touch. We need your help to bring this special ministry to St. Vincent’s.

My name is Kelly Heller and I have been matched with Sebastian, a classroom service dog. I am a District Behavior Specialist for Lebanon School District in Lebanon, PA. Sebastian and I are hard at work in our district’s emotional support, autistic support, and life skills support classrooms. Our students are enjoying having him wander into the classroom for a handshake, a puppy kiss, and another body to read to. The difference he has already made in our district has been incredibly rewarding to see.

My name is Joanne Beaudry, a Speech/Language Pathologist at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA. I am working with classrooms of students on the Autism Spectrum; most have been diagnosed with Asperger's or PDD-NOS . Many of the students have co-morbid diagnosis' of severe anxiety, severe depression, ADHD, and communication disorders. With these secondary diagnosis, their behaviors make it extremely difficult to express their feelings as well as communicate and socialize with peers, and adults in their environment.

Rev. Debbie Clark is pastor of Edwards United Church of Christ in Framingham, Massachusetts.  The congregation has welcomed Jeannie, a beautiful standard poodle, as a "service dog for ministry."  Jeannie provides a warm, gentle, caring presence for the congregation and the wider community.

Hi, my name is Vanessa Colesworthy and I am a United Church of Christ pastor in coastal Maine. There are many needs in my community which I feel a NEADS dog could meet. My dog will accompany me as I visit people in homes, nursing facilities, hospitals, and local schools as well as in my duties as a chaplain to the fire and police departments. I can't wait to meet my new partner in ministry and am asking for any contributions that will help me meet my goal. Thanks and blessings!

When I first applied to get an assistance dog from NEADS, I knew that I would receive a special dog. I didn't know that I would receive a dog that has had such a huge impact on my professional and personal life. Rev accompanies me to work everyday, which is the Nevins Nursing and Rehab Centre in Methuen Massachusetts.

My name is Elizabeth Conlon. I am part of a dedicated private nonprofit organization, NFI (North American Family Institute). As a Registered Nurse, I work in NFI’s intensive residential program located at the Worcester Recovery Center Hospital, the Worcester Adolescent Recovery Center. Our mission is to provide a therapeutic milieu for children ages 13 to 19. Our work is based on a philosophy known as the normative approach, which emphasizes the ability of all people to achieve positive change when they are members of a community unified by its mission and purpose. The holistic and innovative services of NFI are tailored to individual client needs and help adolescents identify and build upon their strengths, emphasizing family work and community reintegration. The adolescents are greatly supported in this work by the relationships they form with staff, including service animals.

Benny has been a blessing to my ministry since we started working together. He has sat at the feet of grieving family members as they prepared for the funeral of a loved one. He also sat at their feet during the funeral. He often knows before I do that people are struggling and in need of the comfort he provides.

I’m Sue Jones a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and I work with clients who suffer from trauma, situational difficulties and mental illness. My primary place of employment is located in a psychiatric facility. As you can imagine, living in such a facility can be difficult and frustrating at times for clients. I have been working in this environment for close to 20 years. At the same time have volunteered as a NEADS “weekend puppy raiser” and was able to bring some of the pups in training to the hospital weekly. The response and excitement from the patients and staff was overwhelming. Playing with these dogs, petting them and loving them, brought smiles and sometimes happy tears to people they encountered. As a result of this positive interaction I applied for a therapy “assistance dog” and was matched with Chips. He is a BIG, lovable yellow lab who puts a smile on every face he meets.

I am excited to be joining the NEADS family and developing a partnership with Bella. Bella will serve as both a ministry dog and a service dog assisting me personally. As a minister and an animal-lover, I cannot think of a more ideal way to “do” ministry. Bella and I will serve our congregation, community, and region in many ways: through congregational and interfaith worship and events; pastoral care visits to nursing homes and hospitals; and crisis response to recovery and reunification centers in Petersham and the wider region. We will respond to requests by local clergy of any faith as well as regional fire, police, and other emergency responders.

I began my partnership with Daisy, a young Golden Retriever "Service Dog for Ministry" in October. She has become a favorite in the various ministry settings in which I am involved. In churches, she opens up conversations with people who might be reluctant otherwise. She is particularly good with kids, even the most hesitant.

Hello, my name is Dr. Julie Gardner Mandel. I am a clinical psychologist in Boston’s Back Bay specializing in the treatment of Eating Disorders. I teach Psychiatry Residents at Harvard Medical School and am on staff at Massachusetts General Hospital. More importantly, let me introduce my beloved, talented, empathic and oh-so-wise canine co-therapist: Henry Freud Mandel.

My name is Ellyn Salkin and I have been matched with Murray, a Service Dog for Therapy. As an advocate, counselor, and coach for people with autism spectrum disorders, other needs and different abilities, I'm thankful to have Murray by my side to provide comfort and encouragement. There are so many ways that Murray can assist in a therapeutic session or activity.