For as long as I recall, I’ve wanted to take my fiancé’s family dog Mick to serve as a therapy dog. He is a 13 year old Australian Shepherd, and he’s been “my dog” too, for almost 9 years. Even in his older age, he is the most sweet and loveable dog I know, carrying a gentle temperament and making everyone he meets smile. I was so excited that for my first day of my Odyssey week, I got the opportunity to make a dream become reality! With his head out the window, Mick and I traveled to SRVS (pronounced serves), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of those with disabilities through a variety of learning programs and services. SRVS has been around for almost 51 years, but just moved into a brand new facility. What an awesome, bright space. Upon arriving I met Allison, the volunteer coordinator. I loved learning that she was once a volunteer at SRVS (for a year and a half), and has since been able to become an employee. I could sense how much she loves her job, and I clearly saw why. It seems like such a fulfilling place to work. And I love hearing that giving back through volunteer work can reap some amazing rewards like that.
As we entered the first hallway, Mick immediately got smiles and pets from people walking by us. Some were reserved at first, but I assured them he is nothing but sweet and accepting of everyone. Allison then took me to one of the learning classrooms, and we were greeted by a small group of adults. They lit up immediately when we arrived, asking lots of questions about Mick. They learned his name, age, and that he loves treats! Deciding that we needed more room, we all headed out to the sensory garden, a nice space with flowers, benches, and tables. On the way out, Rebecca ran from her classroom seeing there was a dog and asked if she could hold the leash and walk him outside. Of course! We spent about 15 minutes in the garden, letting Mick greet everyone before heading back indoors. Rebecca stayed by our side for most of this time, and I could tell she was very fond of Mick. She gave him lots of sweet hugs.
As we visited more classrooms, I got a glimpse of a variety of activities that happen at SRVS; Puzzles, crafts, and games filled all the tables and the shelves, and each room held something new. SRVS is the first facility in the nation to use Montessori learning activities for adults with disabilities. It was neat to see everyone working on their own unique activity and going at their own pace, and all invested in what they were doing. Mick got a quick smile and touch by everyone before they all returned happily to their learning activity. As Mick began to get tired (he is 13 after all), Allison kindly showed me a few extra spaces in the center: a gathering room with a stage, a learning room with a state-of-the-art smart board, a physical therapy room, and a music therapy room with drums. I also learned that they are having a pep rally this Friday. It truly looks like they have created an inspirational space for individuals to live up to their full potential and have lots of fun – who can say no to that?!
I was amazed at every turn at SRVS. They have built not only a place for those with disabilities to come to learn and grow, but a place for them to feel at home. Love flows through the walls there! I am excited to hear of all Allison’s plans for future activities and hope I can be a part of them. So many ideas popped into my head during my visit. I envision craft days, helping with events, and maybe even a hula hooping class. Allison was very welcoming to these ideas. She is in the process of creating a volunteer program, and invites those interested to come by and participate with these heart-warming individuals. There are so many opportunities to help, even if you are unsure what activity might suit you best. I am so thankful for the opportunity to now know this place exists. It already has a special place in my heart. And I am happy my favorite pup got to visit with me.
Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in community outreach, empowering people through movement and education. If you know of a great fit, please send it my way: AdrieneHoops@gmail.com
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