Volunteers make immeasurable impacts. Giving their time to help a youth learn something new, help staff accomplish a large tedious task, or volunteer in support of an event—no matter how they help, volunteers give the priceless gift of their time.
Karen and her dog Bama have been volunteering at Cunningham as part of the Pet Therapy program since 2018 and have experienced many special moments with our kids.
"I remember one boy so clearly," Karen said. "He was really reserved, and I learned that he didn’t get a chance to just be a kid and enjoy typical childhood fun. It took almost six months for him to open up, but eventually he was crawling on the floor with Bama and just playing like a kid should. We both ended up rolling around on the ground playing, smiling, and enjoying our time with Bama."
What makes Bama a special volunteer? Pet therapy gives youth a safe place to express their feelings. Bama’s adaptable reaction to emotions and unconditional love allows youth to become more assertive in asking for what they need. Bama responds best to verbal encouragement as she was not trained using treats but instead with praise. Youth in turn learn how their words can make strong positive reactions.
Bama recognizes youth’s emotions, tries to match or soothe them and can sense the kind of love each youth needs at that time.
"There’s been tears from kids who have had a hard day," Karen recalled, "and Bama was right there with them, letting them cry, making them feel comforted and loved. Bama will only sit in a kid’s lap; she almost never sits in mine."
And looking at an adorable Wheaton Terrier’s face lovingly focused on you can make anyone feel seen and heard. One of our youth proclaimed at the end of his session, "My morning was good but now it’s awesome!"
Bama’s volunteer work has a huge impact on Cunningham youth, just like her fellow volunteers who give their time, talent, and energy to Cunningham.
During volunteer appreciation week, we ask that you join us in celebrating 700+ volunteers, yourself included, who have volunteered with us over the past year and provided more than 2,700 hours to Cunningham. We are so thankful!
You, like Bama, are giving kids at Cunningham a chance to just be kids by letting hope begin here.
CELEBRATING VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION WEEK!
Click on the video below to see some of our more than 700 volunteers who provided more than 2,700 hours of service to Cunningham this year. We are deeply grateful for all our volunteers!