We have deep love for a lot of non-profits, and we just got some great news about one of our favorites: Home for Life.
This animal sanctuary provides loving, lifetime care for dogs and cats that can lead quality lives but are unable to find homes due to old age, disabilities or medical needs, or behavioral issues. The animals, including retired service dogs, come from all over the world.
And as if that wasn’t enough of a good thing, they recently started a partnership with myHealth for Teens & Young Adults, a group out of Hopkins that provides adolescents age 12-26 with healthcare, mental healthcare, education, and life readiness skills.
For the past five months, Home for Life dogs have been meeting students in West Metro schools involved with myHealth educational outreach programs. Home for Life volunteers share the animals’ stories, which include abuse, medical conditions such as blindness or diabetes, and disabilities like paraplegia. The students make dog blankets and bake dog biscuits, simple activities that make a lasting impact on the students while the animals reap the benefits of love and attention.
“It was wonderful to find such a like-minded organization. Home for Life is working with animals to make them healthier through nurturing and providing a better life,” says Liz Post, Development Coordinator at myHealth. “We are doing that with area youth. The goal of our organization is to provide healthcare and to promote healthier lifestyles, well-informed practices, and good decision-making that will benefit the student participants throughout their lives.”
It was through educational outreach that Home for Life and myHealth sparked their partnership. “One of the goals of myHealth education programs is to teach the kids about giving back to the community,” said Lisa LaVerdiere, Home for Life’s Director. “The students were all interested in helping the animals; hopefully next year we can expand our partnership and introduce new learning opportunities.”
When visiting schools, myHealth aims to keep their teen participants as engaged in the lessons as possible. “Watching these teens interact with the animals for the first time was overwhelming. Maintaining their attention span can be a challenge, but not when the animals were there,” says Gerilyn Hausback, Executive Director of myHealth. “The students were instantly engaged in what the program had to offer and attentive to the animals’ stories and special needs. Some of the students don’t see a path to success, or see that their issues can be overcome. That’s what meeting these animals teaches them—that obstacles can be overcome.”
Home for Life and myHealth hope to continue their partnership next school year, teaching students necessary skills with a focus on community connectedness and outreach while educating participants that even “unadoptable” animals can make a difference. [Related Story: Home for Life Samaritan Saves Lives of 11 Dogs]
“We think this is just the beginning,” said Post.
We certainly hope so.