When our Beesley’s Paw Prints Therapy Dog Program began in 2015, with the help of our local United Way, one of our mandates was to work with other United Way agencies if they demonstrated a need to use our volunteer therapy dog teams. As a result, we have become a significant presence in two new facilities, Salus Care and Salvation Army, and are looking to renew previous programs at Child Care of SWFL under a new format. We are reaching more children and adults than ever before, making a serious difference in their lives.
In early February, our volunteer teams began attending group therapy sessions at the Salvation Army in Fort Myers. The target segment for these therapy sessions is for those transitioning from prison life back to the civilian world. The first group was comprised of eight men and women; our volunteer team of Lillian with her Goldendoodle Zoe Belle were so well received that by the end of February, the Salvation Army added two more therapy groups of at least eight individuals per group. The expectation is that this program will continue to grow and also include individual therapy sessions with the adults and children the Salvation Army serves throughout its various programs.
In March of this year, we started our relationship with another United Way agency, Salus
Care, the most comprehensive provider of behavioral healthcare services in Southwest
Florida. At its three Fort Myers service locations, we have begun bi-weekly group therapy
sessions for both children and adults. As we move forward, we expect this program to
expand as the benefits of therapy dogs in sessions become evident to therapists and clients.
Several of the Child Care of SWFL locations will have teams providing either Dog Safety
classes or a reading program called Tales to Tails in the coming months for the children.
We are excited to be back in these locations.
Another way we put our Beesley’s Paw Prints program into use is by attending community
outreach events. On April 14, the annual observance of the National Crime Victims’ Rights
and Butterfly Release was held in Centennial Park; our therapy dog teams were on hand to provide comfort and support to those in attendance. Gary Gambrell with Samson, Chris Silc with Sweetpea, and Val Scola with Milo mingled with the crowd and shared the love and serenity that therapy dogs exude to all who meet them.
We are also very pleased that the 20th Judicial Court of Lee County has approved our therapy teams to be permitted in the courthouse to help comfort the children who may be called to testify in dependency court. It is our hope to expand this program to serve children testifying in criminal cases. Courtrooms can be very intimidating to a child, especially under the circumstances in which CAC clients find themselves. Having a furry friend available gives the child much needed support, especially if it is the therapy dog that has been with them through many months of counseling sessions.
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Accredited by the National Children's Alliance and the Council on Accreditation. CAC is proud to be a United Way partner agency.
In November of 2017, we welcomed Lisa Talcott as the new Volunteer Coordinator for Beesley's Paw Prints Therapy Dog Program. Lisa brings with her 25 years of management experience, as well as several years of volunteering in the therapy dog arena with her three therapy dogs, Gunner, Spirit and Baylee.
Under Lisa’s guidance, the program’s volunteers have increased significantly; our “Wall of Fame” featuring all our volunteer therapy dog teams has expanded across the hallway to include 15 new photos of pups and handlers, as well as a section solely devoted to our puppy sitters. The number of handlers and dogs has doubled to over 30 teams and we continue to grow in order to keep up with the demand for these amazing volunteers.
It was a great night at our second annual Bling & Bags Bingo event at The Landings! Our t hanks to the 220 women (and a few men!) who attended, to our valued sponsors, to the hardworking committee and to our bingo caller extraordinaire, Larry Hart. We are proud to report that we raised a total of $30,918—that’s $10K more than last year!
We couldn’t have done it without the participation of community businesses and individuals who so generously supported the event. A big thank you to major sponsor FL Blue; platinum sponsors B&I Contractors and Florida Skin Center; gold sponsors Kiwanis Gateway to the Islands, Kiwanis Metro-McGregor, Investors’ Security Trust and Thompson Family Law; and silver sponsors CRS Technology Consultants, Edison National Bank, Entech Consulting, FineMark National Bank & Trust, HeadPinz Entertainment Center, Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, Island Mortgage of SWFL, Liz Paul-Re/Max Realty, FGCU Marieb College of Health & Human Services, Mutual Trust Advisory Group, and Pavese Law Firm.
Thank you to event chair Candis Loving and her committee: Ellen Daley, Anita Duenas, Karin Fine, Kristina Frey, Maria Oleson, Liz Paul and Karen Whitmore. Thank you to our event volunteers—Pat Baricelli, Steve Barnes, John Bettelli, Jeff Graddy and Jill Turner.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook (@cacswfl) to be among the first to learn of our next event!
This year’s 16th annual Nichols Cup Celebrity Pro-Am events held at Fiddlesticks Country Club marked a major milestone—raising $1.1 million! Last month, CAC accepted a check from the Bobby Nichols-Fiddlesticks Charity Foundation in the amount of $425,000. Funding from this event is vital to the continuation of CAC’s services. The children in our Pine Manor After School Program made a big thank you banner for the Fiddlesticks members. Pictured here are just a handful of the hundreds of members who contributed to the success of the event. Thank you Fiddlesticks!
It is with a sad heart that we inform you we have lost one of our esteemed therapy dog handlers, Ms. Pam Bowers. Pam and her poodle, Mikey, provided love and support to many children here at the Children's Advocacy Center and she will be deeply missed by all of us. Our condolences to all of her family and friends.
Our sympathies are also extended to Jay L. Solomon, one of our long-time therapy dog volunteers, for the loss of her precious Katie. Katie, a beautiful Goldendoodle, who saw countless children here at the Children's Advocacy Center, lost her battle with cancer.