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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Paws and Think Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Children & Youth, Education, Emergency Assistance, Human Services, Literacy, Remedial Reading & Encouragement, Youth Development

Mission: Mission Statement: Improving lives through the power of the human-dog connection. Vision Statement (Every Person, Every Dog): Paws & Think is a non-profit organization focusing on the at-risk community, both human and canine. Our vision is to create a community where “every person who would benefit from a dog has the opportunity, and every dog fulfills its potential.” We do this with two proven methods: one of training and providing therapy animals for both animal assisted activities and animal assisted therapies to youth, seniors and special needs individuals of all ages. The second method is our Youth–Canine Programs that facilitate classes for at-risk youth and teens, helping them to train shelter dogs with positive reinforcement behaviors. The young people learn responsibility, job readiness, anger management, parenting skills, leadership and positive life skills, while at the same time increasing the dog’s chances of adoption because of the basic obedience skills learned. Pride and confidence are found as a result of both aspects of our vision.

Results: School test scores demonstrate huge strides in the students in our R.E.A.D. programs. Over 160 shelter dogs have been trained and found new homes. Over 320 Incarcerated youth offenders are learning positive methods to achieve their goals, along with compassion and empathy. In 2016, we had over 300 volunteers including over 100 therapy teams (handler and his/her therapy dog) who donated more than 3700 hours.

Target demographics: homeless dogs and vulnerable populations in the greater Indianapolis community

Direct beneficiaries per year: Impacted 30,000 lives in Central Indiana including over 160 shelter dogs and 320 young juvenile offenders

Geographic areas served: Indianapolis and contiguous communities

Programs: Pet Therapy for hospitals and eldercare communities, Reading Education Assistance Dogs for in-school programsand Youth-Canine Programs

Community Stories

66 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Paws & Think is incredible! Everywhere they go, they leave goodness and happiness. Whether it’s having therapy dogs to comfort folks or using shelter dogs to teach at-risk kids how to be compassionate, they are doing so much good in our community!

1 Holly Hilton B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our mini golden doodle and I recently became a therapy team and I can already see how amazing this organization is in helping bring others the same joy our dogs bring to us. Faces immediately light up when they see the dogs and it truly brings people a sense of calm and healing in the midst of often stressful and chaotic situations. We are so proud to be a part of the Paws and Think family.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Paws and Think has spent the last several months planning, creating, and executing a new and custom program for Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis called Paws to Heal. They have been extraordinarily flexible and creative in meeting our hospital's needs and the needs of the patients we serve. Each handler takes the time to not only become a Paws and Think certified team, but also an Ascension St. Vincent volunteer. Our calendar is quickly filling up. Paws and Think has also sacrificed their personal time to come in on off days to see emergent cases, both pediatric and adult.

One of my favorite stories thus far: we were headed to the medical intensive care unit(MICU) and the patient was in the process of being transported to surgery when we arrived. Instead of coming back another time, the trained therapy dog was able to ride with the nervous patient all the way to the operating room. It was magical to see her anxiety transform into pure joy and relief as she rode with the therapy dog.

Paws and Think has not only met, but far exceeded our wildest expectations for care not only for our patients and their families, but also the visitors and our own Ascension St. Vincent associates. In the photos attached you will see some therapy dogs interacting with our nursing staff after a long shift. It is an absolute pleasure to work with Paws and Think. We are very pleased with their Paws to Heal program.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I continue to be amazed by the impact this organization has on all the lives they touch. There are so many people in this world that are need of a little help, hope, and compassion. I can think of no better organization that brings together dogs and people to make such profound differences in peoples lives. I am truly humbled and privileged to serve on the board of this tremendous organization.

Previous Stories
3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am privileged to serve on the board of this wonderful organization. Bringing together dogs and people in need is a special and rewarding endeavor. This organization is truly committed to making the lives of dogs and people better. It is warming to see how people light up when they see our dogs coming and how excited the dogs get when they get to help people. I true sight to see.

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2 Kate B.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Paws and Think has provided a lot of support and opportunity for me and my dog to work as a therapy team.

They had training opportunities to help us succeed as well as multiple different venues where we can volunteer.

2 Cessa A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Paws and Think has been a very rewarding nonprofit to work with. Not only are the people amazing the dogs are fantastic as well. The feeling of helping people while sharing your furry friend is outstanding!!

2 Lynn Kurzawa H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is an outstanding group of people who truly understand the meaning of caring for others. I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer with them for the past few years and found it one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I can’t say enough about the important role they play in the lives of those who receive their caring visits as well as those who do the visiting. They impact so many people in our community on a daily basis. They provide a much need service by providing therapy dog visits to seniors, hospital patients, veterans, children, more. The READ program supports our children in school and the youth canine program supports the incarcerated youth and animal rescue dogs. Paws and Think is extremely valuable in our community.

2 Kara Fitzgerald S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have experienced Paws and Think both as a volunteer and a participant. I have had multiple therapy teams in my classroom for the past 5 years. Everyone looked forward to our day - kids, therapy team, and me....
Absolutely amazing experience for everyone involved.
I also volunteer and make Bark Blankets to go home with dogs that are adopted.
I believe in Paws and Think so much that I am now working with my own dog on becoming certified.

2 Katie H.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Paws and Think comes to Camp Healing Tree to help comfort our special campers who are going through a big change after someone they love dies. Our relationship has grown so that each group is able to have their own special pup. We appreciate all the loving and caring people and their 4 legged volunteers.

2 Christy V.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been an amazingly rewarding experience for both myself and my canine partner! I love witnessing the growth is the children we read with and my partner enjoys all the affection.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Glendale Branch Library of the Indianapolis Public Library has had a long
standing ( 10 years) rewarding relationship with Paw and Think and the 23 different dogs and
volunteers. They have added a delightful and surprising ambiance to the library while encouraging young people to read, which is what we are all about.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have an amazing volunteer come to our preschool monthly with her big, furry, loving companion Bella. She joins us for circle time where we begin by reading a book aloud. Our kids are all speech and/or language delayed so we always develop an activity where kids can tell Bella about their project. We design it so that the kids can ask Bella questions as well. For our kids, interaction with an animal is often less stressful than communicating with people and they LOVE to see her each month! Bella is a great model and a great listener. We are so grateful for our time with her and her owner. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

From the Director, to the volunteers, to the canine trainers -- Paws and Think is a phenomenal contribution to the greater Indianapolis area! Working together to serve youth in our community through canines was one of the best professional experiences I have ever had. Volunteers are caring, compassionate, and well-trained. The Canine Trainer was exceptional -- she was engaging, inspiring and approachable. Finally, Kelsey - the Executive Director - is absolutely amazing! She is very easily able to bring community partners together, is beyond knowledgeable about the needs of both youth and canines, and is just a pleasure to work with. Cannot wait for our next program together. Thank you from the Fishers Youth Assistance Staff and clients for an amazing partnership and experience!!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Indianapolis Public Library is a proud host to many Paws & Think therapy teams. The children look forward to reading to their favorite dog in a non-judgmental environment. Of course, the children love to give and receive lots of puppy love.

It has been a joy working with the staff of Paws & Think. They have helped us to develop and roll out to our staff, a set of solid procedures that ensures a safe and rewarding experience for our patrons, volunteers, staff, and the therapy team. This is the foundation for a long-term, positive partnership.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was part of the Paws and Think in Noblesville. We linked teens with shelter dogs for a week. It was so encouraging. These kids let their guards down and these dogs soaked up the love and attention! What an amazing program to offer!

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a children's librarian and animal lover, one of my missions years ago was to get a Paws to Read program going at our public library. Our director at the time was resistant to the idea, primarily for liability reasons. Enter Paws and Think. Gayle Hutchens met with me a couple of times in the early 2000s to work through the details of creating a relationship between that organization and the library. With her help, we started inviting children to come to the library to read to a friendly dog. For at least ten years now, this monthly program has been one of our patrons' most beloved events. We are a busy library, and without the gracious, dedicated volunteers and the organizational skills of their leaders, we wouldn't be able to do this. I can't tell you how many kids--even reluctant readers--light up when given a chance to curl up with a book and read to a dog who will listen without judgement. What sets this group apart is their dedication to continued training (including the R.E.A.D. training). And over the years, the dog-lover in me has been most impressed that while they’re committed to the well-being of the people they serve, they’re just as committed to the health and happiness of the dogs who give so much.

Previous Stories
4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a children's librarian at the Carmel Clay Public Library. We've had monthly visits from the dogs and volunteers for a few years now, and this has been one of our best-received programs ever. For so many reluctant or struggling readers, the simple act of reading aloud to these dogs has opened up a whole new world. One parent told me that she struggled to get her son to practice his reading even for a few minutes a day , until he got involved with our "Paws to Read" program, which inspired him to practice at home for a full hour! He told his mom that he wanted to be ready for his appointment with the Paws and Think dog. And just this past weekend, a mom watched in amazement as her child had her first chance to read to a dog--her daughter ordinarily didn't like reading aloud, but there she was, confidently reading to Ginny, the little dog who listened happily with no judgment!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Paws and Think is an integral part of Camp Healing Tree every year. Having this organization apart of our camp family has allowed our campers to share their stories in new ways. Often some of our shyest campers will share openly with the dogs instead of during group time. That is a connection we could never have without the help of Paws and Think! We look forward to many years of friendship between both organizations.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a new member of the Board and have been greatly impressed by the energy and commitment of the numerous volunteers that assist throughout Central Indiana. Paws and Think is an extraordinary organization that touches the lives of thousands every year.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Paws and Think since 2013. I started out volunteering where I could without having my own dog and they were very supportive in letting me know how to volunteer and were always good communicators with me. The leadership at the time reached out to welcome me and make me feel like my help was important and needed. Over time I became more involved and am now a board member myself. It is a great organization that does so much for its community and its volunteers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Very unique and niche service they provide in our local community. It's easy to see from the faces and reactions of those lives the organization's therapy teams touch that the impact is lasting and meaningful.