Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

August 2014    Volume 14, Issue 1

    Take Note!   






New Volunteer Orientation


October 18, 2014

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm


 Harahan Senior Center

 100 Elodie

  Pre-registration required

Contact Claire Sommers at paws4visits@gmail.com to register


Pet/Handler Evaluation


September 6, 2014


January 10, 2015


 Harahan Senior Center

   100 Elodie

 Pre-registration required

Contact Barbara Hyland to register at

 if you would like to have an additional pet tested.




 Reading To Rover  


 On the East Bank

   Held on the third Tuesday of each month at the East Bank Regional Library

 4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie



In Orleans Parish  

Held on the second Thursday of each month, Rosa Keller Library, 

4300 South Broad
New Orleans
6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  

  On the West Bank

  Held on the second Sunday of each month

 2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey

 from 2:00pm-3:00pm


    Contact Fay Schultz


 to confirm your slot at any of these
Reading To Rover




Our Deepest Sympathies


Joyce Lashley,
who lost her beloved golden retriever,


in July.



served with VPP for about eight years at Bayside and Jo Ellen and every month at Reading to Rover. 



  Happy Retirement

The following VPP members recently retired their pets from service to the community. Our sincere thanks goes to:


Cathy Burch

who retired her




Rosie joined VPP in 2006 and was a regular at Oschner. Rosie also participated in the visits to Children's hospital.



Claire Sommers

who retired her dog, 



Forest joined VPP in 2007 and was a regular visitro at Covenant. He also participated in the Reading to Rover program.


 Quick Links

  Visiting Pet Program


  Monthly Schedules for Fall 2014 


  Help VPP by shopping through IGive


  Shop for great therapy dog books at Dogwise


Camp Lighthouse  



On June 26th, VPP teams of Diana and Lilou, Mike and Olive, Beth and Nachi, Lee and Gabby, Joy and Benny, Zan and Lucy, Mary and Kokomo, Julie Ann and Oscar and Janice and Kizmet visited Lighthouse Louisiana's Camp Lighthouse. A great time was had by both our teams and the campers!

Summer Seminars

Sharon McDonald and Gee!

On June 1, ten VPP pet-handler teams enjoyed a fabulous afternoon of doggy trick training with the remarkable instructor, Sharon McDonald and her amazing dog, Gee!. The pet-handler teams learned tricks like, touch paw, roll-over, hold position, carry an object in mouth, drop an object and others. A big thank you goes to Sharon McDonald and Gee! for showing us how to have a good time with our pets and build our wonderful bond with them.



Clinical Social Worker Sharon Henry gave a wonderful presentation on how to the handle difficult situations we sometimes encounter. The group of more than 30 VPP members and guest were enthralled with the fabulous information Sharon shared with us. We were all so impressed with Sharon's presentation that we have already booked her for a repeat of her Pet Bereavement seminar for next summer.  


She left us with a wonderful saying  


The Healer's Prayer


I am here only to be truly helpful

I am here to represent You Who sent me

I do not worry about what I will say,

Or what I will do

Knowing that You Who sent me will direct my words and my actions

Lead me, Guide me, Direct me





Time to start our visits once again!Hard to believe we are entering our 27th year of service to Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes. 


Our volunteers didn't take much of a break during the summer months. Read below about some of their many activities during the summer. We're ready to get the fall started with our Evaluation in early September and then welcome our new volunteers through out the fall.


If you have not already done so, be sure to send in your visit confirmations for September through December. Your schedules are due by August 15th. Also, read about our new Members in Training (MITs) program in your Guidelines for Volunteers. We are excited to finally be able to welcome a younger group to our visits.


I am honored and excited to tell you all of a very generous donation from Madeline Deirdre Burns. In honor of her kindness, we have named the Annual Meeting for her. It will now be called the Madeline Deirdre Burns Annual Volunteer Appreciation Meeting. The date for the 2015 event is Sunday, March 8, 2015. Mark your calendars now and plan to join us all!


Have a wonderful year of "Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles"!


With thanks for all you do,

Lee Gaffney


 VPP at Camp Tiger


On Friday, May 23, seven VPP pet-handler teams joined the fun at Camp Tiger hosted by the LSUHSC Med Students for special needs children. What a great camp and what a great day! 



VPP at
Care Cadet Camp 



Recently my greyhound Alex and I gave presentations  to the LA/SPCA Care Cadet Program and The New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School, a/k/a Sci High.


It was exciting to share with the Care Cadets our new Members in Training Program/MIT.  They will now have an opportunity to become members of VPP.


The VPP was also invited to participate at Sci High for their first Health & Wellness Day Expo. An overview of the VPP was given to the students together with a handout outlining the physical and emotional benefits of pet therapy. Alex won everyone's heart.


Barbara Hyland

Finals at Loyola 

On May 5, 12 VPP pet-handler teams visited Loyola University New Orleans
to give students a much needed finals study break.

Many students spoke about counting down the days until they returned home to their family pets. Others spoke about stressful finals and long nights of additional studying and paper writing.

However, for a hour that night, nothing was more important than finding another dog to pet. As much fun as the students had, the volunteers had just as much fun. The teams are already looking forward to fall finals!

Nicole Parks 

Guardian Angels

A donation was received from 

Crossroads Foundation, Inc.


A donation was received from 

Claire Sommers 

in memory of  

            Denise and Chet Mehurin's dog,                                         Gigi

A donation was received from 

Fay and Bill Schultz

 in memory of 

 Louise and Don Berkowicz's




A donation was received from 

Jill Dolese 

in memory of her dog, 



   A donation was received from 

New York Community Trust


Madeline Deirdre Burns


 A donation was received from 

Christina Fay

  in memory of 

 Kevin Kornman's




Donations were received from

 Claire Sommers, 

Fay and Bill Schultz,  

Cathy Burch,  

and Barbara Hyland 

in memory of 

Nancy Field's dog, 



A donation was received from  

Lee Gaffney 

in memory of 

Edye Conkerton's dog, 

Little Bit


  Donations were received from 

AT&T Employee Giving Campaign


A donation was received from CustomInk


Donations were received from United Way


A donation was received from  

Claire Sommers 

in memory of 

Joyce Lashley's dog, 



About the Visiting Pet Program

is an all volunteer 501 (C)(3) non-profit animal assisted therapy organization serving Orleans, Jefferson and St.Tammany parishes. 
For the past 27 years, the volunteers of the VPP have lived up to their motto of "Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles" to the residents of nursing homes and hospitals.

Our literacy project, Reading to Rover offers young readers the opportunity to practice their reading aloud skills to the gentle therapy dogs.
If you would like to make a donation to the Visiting Pet Program, please click on the button below or mail your check to P.O. Box 24748, New Orleans, LA 70184-4748. Please note if your donation is in memory of a person or a pet. We will be happy to send an acknowledgment of your donation to the family. Please include the name and address to send the acknowledgment. Because we are a 501(C)(3) organization, your donation is tax deductible. We are an all volunteer organization. Your donation goes directly to the support of our mission. 

Thank you