As I gaze out my office window, I see drifts of snow. But signs of spring are evident in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My Sandhill Crane neighbors arrived this week and strolled up my driveway, much to the delight of my HOPEful, Madison. Trumpeter Swans are swimming on the Au Train River and the robins play tag in the pine trees.
Much like my neck of the woods, the rest of the nation is waking up to spring, some faster than others. The hibernation that HOPE faced the last few years is also lifting. Many areas that have been shut down due to COVID are allowing our members to deploy and attend events. Some of our members have been able to meet in person with their canines, which has been absent these last few years.
I am pleased that all of our regions have scheduled and/or planned screenings and workshops for 2022. The National VOAD Conference is taking place this year, and the EUS has been invited to attend to assist during the conference. Our teams will be collecting tickets at mealtime, welcoming and assisting VOAD members, answering questions and monitoring the conference rooms. This is a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on HOPE.
FEMA has invited HOPE to send a short video to be featured during Partnership Month, July 2022. We had three Regions submit a video. The Outreach and Advancement Committee will be selecting the video to submit for inclusion.
The HOPE Board is moving forward to hire a bookkeeper and seeking a Technology Officer as we expand and grow. Both of these areas are critical to our growth and advancement.
Spring...the season of renewal and regrowth!
Thea Wasche, Rocky Mountain Region
Meet Thea Wasche and HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response K9 Willow, from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This is one of HOPE's newest teams joining in September 2021.
Willow is a five-year-old, English Crème Golden Retriever and was specifically breed for her soft crème fur combined with beautiful golden highlights. Because of her thick coat and very curly fur with extreme highlights, many ask if is she is a Golden Retriever…but she is indeed 100% Golden!
Willow is an unbelievably sweet girl. She began her training as a Therapy Dog when she came to live with her forever family at just 8 weeks old. She started obedience classes with a professional trainer at 10 weeks of age and quickly became a very disciplined toddler. To enhance her obedience skills and ready her for intense K9 therapy training, she was enrolled in the Colorado Correctional Industries K9 Companion Program at a local state prison in Buena Vista, Colorado.
After completion of her 30-day program, Willow was released on extremely good behavior and had matured into an amazing, well-disciplined Junior who was ready to start her Therapy Dog training. In the next month received the Canine Good Citizen distinction from the American Kennel Club and successfully became a registered Therapy Dog before she turned 2.
Willow just LOVES being a Therapy dog and now a HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response K9. Her first job as a Therapy Dog was becoming a volunteer with her handler with the American Red Cross, Service to the Armed Forces. Thea just recently retired from Federal Service spending over 36 years working with Army and Air Force personnel and families. Now with retirement, the team spends many hours of volunteer time at numerous military treatment facilities and military event locations. The team helps military and family members through tough times.
Thea is also a local and national deployer for the American Red Cross as Disaster Response volunteer. She is a management specialist in Sheltering, Feeding, Recovery, Distribution of Emergency Supplies, Disaster Assessment, as well as other specialties such as an Emergency Response Vehicle driver. She has been on over 20 local and national deployments to include Hurricanes Michael, Harvey, Laura and Ida; the Mayfield Kentucky Tornadoes; Unaccompanied Minor Crisis at the Mexican Border; and numerous Colorado and national wildland and forest fires.
In addition to the American Red Cross engagements, Willow also visits local hospitals and a cancer center on a weekly basis. She visits schools, libraries, nursing homes and special events like Vaccination Clinics and Blood Drives.
Because of Willow’s extremely affectionate nature, natural comforting abilities and compassion for people -- along with her military and disaster experience with the American Red Cross -- Willow and Thea were very interested in the work and beliefs of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response.
In the past seven months as a HOPE team, they have attended several deployments and drill events including visiting Elementary and High Schools during crisis events and testing periods, military units getting ready to deploy from Ft. Carson Colorado, as well as regular weekly visits to Safe Passage in Colorado Springs which serves more than 1000 children per year in the midst of abuse investigations. The team also recently spent three weeks at the Disaster Assistance Center in Boulder, Colorado aiding the victims and survivors of the most devasting fire in Colorado’s history, the Marshall Fire, which destroyed over 1000 homes and businesses.
During her spare time Willow LOVES to play! Nothing better than meeting up with one of her therapy dog buddies or neighbor friends for a hike, swimming in lakes and streams and just having a ball with retrieving toys. Willow is very rarely seen without a ball or toy in her mouth. Willow loves her treats and her favorites are freeze dried liver and dog jerky. Willow’s name means “Forever, and Always” and she will be everyone’s friend, forever and always!
Around the Regions
PNW- The Pacific Northwestregion recently participated in several events including: a First Responder Memorial March; a vaccine clinic for children; a deployment to a 911 call center; and an active shooter drill. (Photos below)
CGC -The Central Gulf Coast region participated in:
9th Harris County trial support
Texas Public Safety Conference, Galveston, TX
Harris County Victim Services meeting, Houston, TX
Harris County trial support, Houston, TX
FEMA Headquarters visit, Denton, TX
College of the Mainland visit, Texas City, TX
Every Victim Every Time Conference, Bryan, TX
SE Texas Disaster Expo, Beaumont, TX
And held a HOPEful screening in La Porte, TX.
EUS - The Eastern United States region:
Visited the US Secret Service
Held a EUS recruiting event
Made a visit to Fort Meade, MD
Deployed to Howard University to support the students following multiple bomb threats
Held a HOPEful screening event
Is planning a training weekend in Virginia Beach, VA May 20-22, which will include a 2 day certification class -- The Secrets of Psychological Body Armor -- presented by Brian Flynn, along with visits to the Virginia Beach city employees who were affected in the shooting in 2019, and training with the Virginia Beach fire and police departments.
Will be holding a second training weekend in PA July 22-24, which will include an exposure activity with a train ride, a deployment, and work with the Slippery Rock University School of Social Work students. (Photos below)
Colorado Office of Emergency Management
By Sandy Miller, SMR Regional Manager
You know you have built bridges in your community when you receive an invitation to have HOPE Teams at the Office of Emergency Management Manager’s Conference. Many of the managers had observed the amazing work our HOPE teams recently did during the huge Marshall Fire in Lafayette and Superior, Colorado. They wanted that magic to be experienced by ALL of the OEM managers at this conference as well.
When our teams arrived on the morning of March 22nd, the intended space was in a back, dark corner of a conference area, away from most of the attendees. Their thought was that WE needed to be in a quiet and secluded place. They quickly realized that the best place for our teams was out where we were easily accessible, a place where people could freely sit on the floor, stand, or even lie down to interact with the dogs; and a place where there could be intimate cuddling sessions with these soft and fluffy therapists.
They located our teams next to an area where attendees could receive relaxing massages. This proved to be a bonus, because many of them asked to pet the dogs while receiving their massage. Win, win all the way around! Our teams were told they were the “Rock Stars” of the conference.
In addition, our teams were able to learn even more about emergency services and see many of the new upcoming equipment and services to provide and support crisis response. I have already been asked if the HOPE teams can be booked for the 2023 OEM Manager’s Conference. It would be our pleasure and honor to do it all over again.
HOPE TEAMS ON THE OIL CREEK & TITUSVILLE RAILROAD by Doug Dunbar
Want to do some railroad exposure training with your canine partner?
HOPE EUS has arranged for the OC&T RR to host our canines on an ongoing basis whenever a regularly scheduled train is operating (we will not be able to ride during special events like the murder mystery trains and wine tasting specials etc).
The round trip is approximately 3 hours long with a stop of 20 to 30 minutes at the halfway point. You are free to detrain at the stop and relieve the dogs and yourself.
If you are representing HOPE, you are expected to be in uniform with ID badge and your dog is to have its vest on. If you meet this criteria you will have access to the whole train except for the first class car. Not meeting the requirements, you will have to pay $5 for your dog and your seating will be confined to a designated car……and HOPE insurance will not be in force.
1. Check the train schedule. The handlers are required to pay for their trip per prices listed on the railroad’s website and the dogs ride free. There are discount fares for those of us over 60 years old.
2. Canines and handlers make reservations via the HOPE representative below (DO NOT CALL THE RR DIRECTLY). The HOPE representative will confirm your reservation status with you.
3. List the date and time of the train you want to ride.
4. The number of people, noting age (young & old related discounts) and the number of dogs. You will pay for your ticket(s) at the station when you show up for the train.
5. HAVE FUN!
OC&T Perry Street Station
409 S Perry Street
Titusville, PA 16354
Please, if you cannot for any reason keep your reservation, call the HOPE representative (Doug Dunbar814-392-5457) and cancel so your tickets will be available for other patrons
THE HISTORY OF HOPE By Jill Cucaz, Historian HOPE TODAY
Today HOPE is a vibrant and strong national organization that plays a key role in crisis situations, disaster recover and response by providing animal assisted therapy to those in need. Jan. 2018- Board recommends changing the phrase “call out” to “deployment” so the wording is consistent with other organizations.
Jan. 30-31, 2018- PSW Teams- support those affected by mud slides, Santa Barbara, CA.
Feb. 9, 2018- RMR Teams- support for colleagues after the death of an officer, El Paso County Sheriff’s Dept.
March 2018- Board approves years of service pins for members and ceramic tiles for canine partners who have passed. HOPE logo is updated and approved. Members will not be required to purchase new uniforms and/or gear with new logo. There is no expiration date for old logo.
Mar. 13, 2018- MWR- comfort and encouragement to the Native American community and Ojibwa School following the death of a recent graduate, Bay Mills, MI.
Apr. 9, 2018- PSW Teams- comfort children who are testifying in court, Gilbert, AZ.
May 2018- HOPE dogs/potential HOPE dogs are prohibited from wearing shock collars during screenings, workshops or HOPE deployments.
If a member takes their dog to a VOAD deployment in HOPE uniform, and is approved by AC/RD, they will be covered by HOPE insurance.
May 27, 2018- RMR Teams- support for families and first responders affected by flooding, Yellowstone County, MT.
July 8, 2018- PSW Teams- comfort survivors and first responders affected by the Alpine Fire, San Diego Co. VOAD, CA.
August 2018- New HOPE team leader from Victoria, Australia passes PNW workshop held in August.
Aug. 11, 2018- PNW Teams- Teams comfort maintenance and ground crews at airport.
Sept. 29, 2018- PSW Teams- comfort survivors and first responders of the Las Vegas Shooting, Rt. 91, Las Vegas.
Oct. 30, 2018- MWR Team- provide comfort to students and faculty following the death of two teachers, Fall Creek Middle School, IN.
Nov. 2018- Annual Meeting, Alexandria, VA.
Board discussion of a white button -down shirt with the HOPE logo for dress uniform.
Starting Jan. 1, 2019, HOPE will reimburse hotel for one night stay max. per day of deployment.
Ongoing review and revision of Service and Operations policies and procedures.
Nov. 13, 2018- PSW Teams- support to Ventura Dispatch after Thousand Oak Mass Shooting, Santa Barbara Police Dept., CA.
March 2019- Board reviews non-profit organization assessment from consulting group.
Mar. 24, 2019- CGC Teams- visit to HCOHSEM EOC to provide support for government agencies, Houston, TX.
Apr. 2019- Board approves to keep the HOPE mission as written, adopt vision and goals as written and documented in April Board minutes.
May 25, 2019- PSW Teams- fire dispatcher death, Los Angeles, CA.
June 4, 2019-SER Team- BMI Debriefing.
June 12-14, 2019- EUS Teams- support to staff of mass shooting at VA Beach Municipal Building, SEVA VOAD, VA Beach, VA.
June 20, 2019- PNW Teams- Operation Purple, supporting military children.
July 27, 2019- RMR Teams- Air Medical Remembrance Memorial Ceremony, CO.
Aug. 21, 2019- EUS Team- VA Beach shooting aftermath revisit, VA Beach, VA.
Sept. 4, 2019- MWR Teams- support for students and staff for a student death, Saranac Public Schools, MI.
Sept. 2019- Annual Meeting - San Diego, CA
Board approves the standard minimum rate for each HOPE workshop attendance to be $300.00. Any HOPE member bringing an additional dog through is eligible for 50% off the rate of the workshop that they attend.
Oct. 28-29, 2019- EUS Teams- support for military personal, Fort Meade, MD.
Oct. 29, 2019 -PSW Team- Kincade Fire, CA.
Oct. 31, 2019- MWR Teams- student death, support for students and staff, Lakeview, MI.
Nov. 2019- Board discusses introducing two additional classes of HOPE membership: Emeritus and Associate.
Dec. 22, 2019- SER Teams- support for victims of tornado, Guntown, MS.
Jan. 3, 2020- MWR Teams- support for the clients of the Drake Hotel Fire, Minneapolis, MN.
Jan. 8, 2020- RMR Team- tour of Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, CO.
Jan. 28, 2020- PSW Teams- support for baseball team due to tragic death of their coach, Orange Coast College, CA.
Feb. 2020- Board discussion of restrictions on members participating in multiple AACR organizations. Dog and handler cannot belong to two AACR organizations.
Feb. 15, 2020- RMR Teams- provide comfort and support at free dental clinic, Brewer Dental Clinic, Billings, MT.
Feb. 28, 2020- SER Teams- support to students and staff for faculty member death, Elon College, NC.
Mar. 7, 2020- SER Team- support to Tennessee EOC, Nashville, TN.
Apr. 2020- Annual meeting will be held virtually.
June 2020- All future screenings and workshops for 2020 are cancelled due to COVID concerns.
Sept. 2020- Virtual Annual Meeting
Oct. 13, 2020- EUS Team- support to students and staff for faculty member death, Northwest Tri County, PA.
Dec. 2020- Board elects Keena Jones new President of HOPE.
Feb. 2021- No screenings or workshops will be scheduled for 2021 until further notice.
Apr. 2021- contacts from Italy and Israel discuss with Board about starting HOPE organization in their country.
June 2021- Board approves COVID guidelines for workshops/deployment.
Aug. 2021- HOPE is now Goldstar certified, a centralized online source for non-profits.
Sept. 2021- Virtual Annual Meeting
IN THE NEWS HOPE EUS Teams Doug Dunbar and Murray and Cece Peterson and Hamish got some TV time on Erie, PA Erie News Now Channel 5 for their February deployment supporting veterans (Unfortunately, the link on Erie News Now's website to this video story is currently not working).
A Goldendoodle, a Leonberger, and a Newfie walk into a turnstile... Could your HOPE dog make it through?
April 29-May 1 EUS Workshop
May 18-19 MWR Operation Straits Shield Drill
Hosted by United States Coast Guard SectorSault Sainte Marie
May 20-22 EUS Training Weekend,
Virginia Beach, VA
June 3-5 CGC Workshop
July 22-24 EUS Training Weekend
Grove City, PA
August 12-14 RMR Workshop
Colorado Springs, CO
August 26-28 PNW Workshop
Articles and other submissions for this newsletter are welcome from HOPE AACR members and mission-related professionals. If you're interested in submitting an article or photos for a future edition, please contact the newsletter editor here.
Region Key: CGC = Central Gulf Coast Region; EUS = Eastern United States; MWR = Midwest Region; PNW = Pacific Northwest Region; PSW = Pacific Southwest Region; RMR = Rocky Mountain Region; SER = Southeast Region.