I wanted to do volunteer work for quite a while but had no idea what I wanted to do but wanted it to make a difference and be meaningful. When our dog passed away and we decided to get a new dog, there was just something about our new dog that was so special I knew I wanted to share her with others. She is huge but has always had a gentle spirit, is friendly and loves children and people just seem so taken with her. So, we went through the steps to get her certified to do visits. I still had no idea where we were going to volunteer but one day saw an add in the paper talking about Hearts in Harmony and what they do. That was it, I knew that was where my dog and I were going and we have been volunteering with this organization ever since. We get to see the kids grow with the activities involving the dogs, i.e. teaching them how to train a dog in obedience, or just hang out and visit with them for the time we are there. The co-founders are truly people who care and have a heart for helping others. I truly love working with the other volunteers, dogs and children we visit, and there is just nothing more rewarding than seeing the kids faces light up when we bring our dogs in for a visit.
I came to learn about Hearts In Harmony several months ago and I am so proud to say that I am now a volunteer. Each time I work with the children and see the joy on their faces, I know this organization is making a difference. It is wonderful to be able to watch the boys progress in their self esteem, and I always look forward to my visits. I know they feel the love from the animals and volunteers. What an exceptional organization to be a part of!
A few months ago I was given the opportunity to volunteer for Hearts in Harmony Animal Assisted Therapy. Having a great love for dogs and a heart eager to help children, I was thrilled to become a part of this organization. It’s a constant joy to be part of this passionate team of volunteers who give of their time and talents to help these young kids. It's amazing to see the way the dogs and kids connect with eachother. The dogs help the kids to establish a sense of worth, confidence and responsibility while building a trustworthy relationship. I truly enjoy volunteering with an organization where I know I am making a difference in the lives of someone else in our community. I feel lucky to be part of this great team!
I became acquainted with the founders of this group over a year ago. Since then, I have become a volunteer with my dog and have experienced first hand the wonderful work this organization accomplishes. The experiences I have had with the animals and the people they come in contact are something you never forget. I know that my life has been enriched by this group as well. Our visits with hospice and the crisis center have touched my heart in a way I could never express fully in words. To see fear on children's faces turn into joy after being with these animals is something you have to experience to understand.
I was searching for a volunteer organization to be a part of, that I would feel 100% enthusiastic about and be proud to be a part of. Hearts in Harmony took me in and what they do is incredible. The way they interact with the boys and dogs is outstanding. They provide the boys with comfort, support, and the learning of lessons that apply not only to the dogs, but real life situations. The boys that work with the dogs leave with a strong bond and a willingness to listen to the volunteers and dog handlers. This group of amazing individuals came together and have provided so much for the boys -- I consider myself lucky to be able to help.
An amazing example of heart, effort and great organization to help not just at risk children, but also rescue dogs. I was fortunate to be an instructor for their "Pawsitive Hearts" project which teaches foster children how to train rescue dogs. The foster boys would have been happy to play with the dogs, but being given the responsibility to train them gave them purpose. The dogs would have been happy just to play, but their bond with the foster boys grew as they were trained. The training manual was impressive, as was the sheer amount of research that was put into the program before it was implemented. I have never seen a new project done so well and hope that it continues for many years.
There is a great need, not just in our community here in Tyler but in every community in the U.S., to reach out to the children who have been placed in custodial care for their anti-social behaviors. These are the children who have been abused or neglected by parents and other so-called caregivers. They end up in residential foster care because now they have anti-social behaviors as a result of the abuse. Their emotional scars inhibit normal healthy childhood behaviors and often the only way to reconnect with them is through the love of a dog. The dogs have a special knack for pouring love into these lost souls and allowing the children to once again feel positive emotions and understand that it is okay to trust again. I recall one instance in particular, where a 7 yr. old came to our weekly therapy visit and would not participate. Rather, he chose to sit with his head buried in his hands, angrily denying any attempts the adults made to get him involved with our activity. I took my Russell Terrier Katy over to Alex, whispered to him that "somebody here wants to say hi and have you play with her". Without any prompting from me, Katy "kissed" Alex' ear. He raised his tear-stained face, looked into Katy's eyes and smiled. He started petting her head and Katy then kissed his forehead. Katy knew Alex was hurting, and knew he needed some affection. The rest of the session Alex was once again communicating with the volunteers and interacting with all of the dogs. This may have been a small reconnect, but it just might be the kick-start needed to have Alex learn appropriate and self-rewarding GOOD behaviors, vs. negative ones. If there isn't a positive intervention somewhere along the line with these kids, the cycle of violence will continue, and they will grow up to be the future abusers in our society. We hope we are doing our small share in changing this cycle.