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Central California Life Magazine

Puppies, Newspapers, & a Winning Collaboration: CCSPCA Animals & Seniors Heal Together

Feb 14, 2017 05:01PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Pat Parnell sits with her dog Coco Chanel next to a stack of donated newspapers.

Patsy Agee pushes a cart full
of newspapers to donate,
followed by Beverly Johnson.

Partnership between the Central California SPCA (CCSPCA) and the The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens first started with the "Papers for Puppies" initiative. Through this initiative, the senior living center donated their used newspapers to a local shelter so that they had something to line the kennels with.  

As a result, local shelters receive around 1,200 papers a month from the senior center.

Since this first initiative, it has sparked some inspiration between the shelter and the senior living center for other partnership opportunities. Animal therapy is among the programs included in this collaboration. 

Plenty of studies have shown the health benefits between good health and positive animal interaction. It also benefits vulnerable animals, and seniors in need of some love. It's a mutually beneficial program, and it's been incredibly successful so far. 

We were able to get in touch with Melissa Sanders, Lifestyle Enrichment Manager at The Terraces’ health center, and learn a little bit more about these great programs, as well as things we can do as a community to help them thrive.

Tell us a little about the collaboration between The Terrace and the CCSPCA. When and how did it get started?

Leo sits next to a stack of donated newspapers. Leo’s owner is the lifestyle enrichment coordinator at the Grove, The Terraces’ memory support programs and services. Leo frequently spends time with residents at the Grove.

In June 2016, we contacted our local CCSPCA about having one of their volunteers and dogs come in monthly to provide visits with our community’s skilled nursing residents. They were happy to help, and started sending Thalia and her rescue dog Pequeña (or Becky) for monthly visits. 

In July, I reached out to the CCSPCA’s volunteer coordinator, Linda Stolling, seeking opportunities for our community to give back. She offered on-site volunteer training and provided me with a list of ways to help, including newspaper donations. Once newspapers are donated, they are separated, stacked and rolled up by other CCSPCA volunteers. 

Newspaper collection is something that individuals in all levels of living can participate in, a way for everyone to volunteer regardless of any challenges they may be facing.  

What are your goals for the collaboration and where do you see it heading?

Our goals for 2017 are to:
  • Continue to increase our newspaper donations.
  • Form a CCSPCA volunteer club on campus. Residents and team members would be encouraged to participate in training, and volunteer on-site at the CCSPCA to provide one-on-one time with the animals. The purpose is to help these animals adjust to human contact and prepare to be adopted with plenty of TLC
  • Challenge other communities in a quarterly donation drive. These drives would feature items such as blankets, towels and toys. The first challenge will be extended to other senior living communities in March.

What has been the overall impact so far? Has it been a positive thing?

The one-on-one visits Thalia and Pequeña provide our residents are greatly appreciated. The connection between people and animals is special. Pet therapy interactions are known to release endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect, lower blood pressure, lift spirits and rekindles memories.

Every delivery of newspapers has been received with so much gratitude from the CCSPCA team. Their volunteer coordinator, as well as other CCSPCA team members, are always happy to help unload and put the papers to use. Every day I have residents in my office donating newspapers. Not only is it a great cause, it’s purposeful for the residents and team members. It gets people up and out of their homes and offices. They read their paper and are motivated to walk right over and donate. It promotes daily walks, volunteerism and purposeful interactions. 

What's been one of your most memorable moments so far?

Julie Harder & her dog Bella.

Originally we planned on residents dropping off papers to my office, and I’d deliver them once a month. That changed quickly. I had to clear two large shelves in my office for them to stack their papers. By the end of the third day the shelves were packed. When I came to work on the fourth day, there were bags of newspapers waiting for me in the lobby and piled up in front of my door.

As I spent the morning trying to find places to put them all, residents continued to stop by. They had a good laugh when they saw the amount of donations, and I started piling up my desk.

I had to make the delivery on the fourth day and come up with a new system. 

It all started with the “Papers for Puppies” initiative. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Residents and team members save and donate their newspapers, which are then used to line the puppy kennels at the CCSPCA. On average, residents and team members contribute upwards of 1,200 papers every month.

How people can get involved?

The best way to get involved is to own the initiative and connect with your local animal rescue/shelter. Find a realistic, purposeful goal for your community and work towards it.

To learn more about what you can do to help, and more about these amazing programs, contact Ben Green at 913-754-2372 or