Elim Therapy Dog Comforts Newtown Community
September 2, 2013
Did you know that Abbi, a trained service dog, works several days at Elim every week? She accompanies students on community outings, works within classrooms as part of Elim’s care-giving curriculum, and is available for students experiencing emotional or behavioral challenges.
On December 14, 2012, Abbi’s presence was requested in Newtown, Connecticut, to help comfort and serve the families there, following the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
In Newtown, Abbi gathered with children at a church of one of the victims. She stood with families gathered at memorials set up in town and along the road to the school. She visited a local youth center, where children were gathered for activities and support during the normal school day hours.
At each place, Abbi was uniquely positioned to serve. She was a reminder of the joys still present in life and brought smiles again for the first time to many. Her presence initiated conversations, allowing children and adults to open their hearts again and begin to heal. She brought comfort and hope to everyone she encountered. In February, Abbi traveled back to Newtown, this time with student Briane Niezgoda and an Elim staff member, to again reach out with a comforting and healing presence in that hurting community.
Abbi has rejoined the Elim community to serve alongside our students in their service and ministry to others. Her presence on community outings sparks conversations, increasing opportunities for our students to socialize and serve with others.
Abbi’s participation in our students’ service-learning efforts is a huge blessing, and Elim is thankful that God allowed them to share this blessing with others in need.