Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

April 2015    Volume 15, Issue 5

Take Note! 





New Volunteer Orientation

June 13, 2015

 10:00am to 12:00 pm


July 12, 2015

2:00pm to 4:00 pm

October 17, 2015

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm


 Harahan Senior Center

 100 Elodie

  Pre-registration required

Contact Claire Sommers at paws4visits@gmail.com to register

Summer Seminar
Dealing with Pet Loss
Thursday, June 25th
EJ General Hospital
Room-Dreyfous 2
email registration coming soon




Pet/Handler Evaluation

September 5, 2015


January 9, 2016


 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



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




A Letter of

Thanks and Appreciation


"I just wanted to write a letter praising your volunteers and the wonderful work they do. 

I have seen two pups come visit (though I'm sure there have been more) our unit- Mozart was the first and most recently I met Miss Betty Boop. 

Though on both days my patients were being kept medically sedated and thus were not awake to have a visit, I was able to come meet the pups  and wanted to let you all know how much joy having a quick meeting with your volunteers has brought me.Please never stop doing what you all do! 

In the midst of a 12-hour shift full of machines and bells and rushing around, seeing such sweet and gentle puppy faces provided a welcomed and much-needed break. It made me relaxed and happy and when Betty Boop put on her glasses!?! Forget it. I'm in love! 

Bottom line: your services bring joy and smiles to patients AND nurses alike! Thank you! We appreciate all that your volunteers do."



       Jamie McKenna, 


Cardiac/Medical ICU Nurse,New Orleans



And a 

Special Thanks to...

 our wonderful donor 

Madeleine Burns 


We were so thrilled to have her join us for the annual meeting. The event is now called Tara's Toast to Volunteers in honor of Ms. Burns first dog, Tara. In a very lovely note, Ms. Burns stated "I cannot adequately convey my thanks that you honored my Tara...Sunday was very special. I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart".


No, no, Ms. Burns...we thank YOU!

Madeleine Burns
Tara's Toast to Volunteers


 Quick Links


Spring has finally sprung and our opportunities for service are blooming! Our monthly visits are discontinued from June to September, but that doesn't mean we aren't busy. The summer camps have already been calling and asking for our talented teams to visit. Local universities want our pups to provide a respite from the horrible storm known as finals. As always, our wonderful volunteers are eager and ready to serve. It's nice to have some time to provide our form of therapy in new and different ways.


Social Worker Sharon Henry will be the speaker at this summer's seminar focused on grief. Sharon has given this workshop to us before. It was so well received we asked her to repeat it. The event will be held June 25 at 6:30 at EJ Hospital. A notice and registration for the seminar will be posted soon. Watch your email for information.


Be sure to check out the wonderful Stacey Warnke photos from our Annual Meeting. After a horrible week of rain, the weather turned out to be sunny and gorgeous providing about 90 volunteers and family members with a much needed day in the sunshine.  All the pups were perfectly behaved and even participated in games and dress up contests. Our teams were acknowledged for their years of service with presentations topped off with fabulous door prizes.  This fun day only happens once a year. Be sure you are able to attend in 2016!


Take a short break for yourself after all you have done for others for the last 9 months. Have a safe and happy summer.

We'll see you in September!


With thanks for all you do,

Lee Gaffney

 VPP Volunteer Appreciation Picnic/Annual Meeting   


2015 Award Recipients 



All of these volunteers went above and beyond their required monthly visit. From doing additional visits during the month, to serving as Mentors to our probationary volunteers, to dedicated participation to our Reading to Rover program, to volunteering to represent our organization at a variety of community events- their devotion to our mission is overwhelming! We thank each one for sharing their time and talents with us. We are honored to call them Visiting Pet Program volunteers.  


Jeannette Albert
Joan Rey











Sandy Woods
Jerry Gibel
Top Dog Award















20 Year Member

 Leslie Davis


                                 15 Year Members 

   Pam Bellone,  Claire Sommers 

(not pictured)


10 Year Members

Rose Marhay and
Diane Smith


  5 Year Members

Jennifer Mueller
and Joan Rey. 

Missing from picture is
Tere Walsh







9 Year Awards


Shirley Walters 


6 Year Awards  
Kevin Hand



   3 year awards

(L-R): Maggie - Pat Egers, Guiness - Judy Haber-Stone, Chloe - Suzette Hubbell, Teddy - Sonja Flick, Baxter - Desiree Terrebonne, Nachi - Beth Joubert, Olive Oyl - Mike Azzarello, McKenzie - Nicole Parks, Islay - Joy Sturtevant, Chaz - Helen Hester.
Not in the picture: Parker - Claire Sommers, 
Tej - Malay Ghose-Hajra, Bacchus - Andra Ponson, Poppy - Vickie Salter, 
T-Bone - Richard Smith, Beau -Charlotte Walker  

Guardian Angels

A donation was received from

 A donation was received from
Claire Sommers in memory of
Cathy Burch's dog Chloe

A donation was received from
Fay and Bill Schultz in memory of Bonnie Prestenberg


A donation was received from
Claire Sommers in memory of
Rebecca Mueller's dog, Daisy May

A donation was received from
Diane Smith in memory of Rebecca Breaud's dog, Violet


A donation was received from
Claire Sommers in memory of
Audrey and Norman Chavis' pet, Verdell


A donation was received from
New York Community Trust 

A donation was received from 

Aetna Foundation in honor of Barbara Hyland

About the Visiting Pet Program
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 28 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  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