On Saturday, March 9, the public is invited to join residents at The Atrium Assisted Living at The Allendale Community for Mature Living for a special time with furry friends, compliments of the 4-H Club of Bergen County. The Ther-Happy Pets program is part of 4-H’s animal club and includes many different small animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters. The program will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the lobby of The Atrium.
“This event is sure to please all those who attend,” said Mary Stampleman, ADC, director of Therapeutic Recreation and Public Relations at The Atrium. “Both the children of the 4-H Club and the animals bring bright smiles to our residents. Many of our residents are former pet owners and in turn, delight the 4-H children and attendees with stories of their pets from years ago. The interactions are truly heartwarming. We had 4-H visit in the fall and are anxiously awaiting their return this March.”
4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Within the 4-H Club of Bergen County, the idea for Ther-Happy Pets began in 1981 when a dog trainer brought a puppy to a local nursing home and immediately noticed the visit’s therapeutic benefits. Ken Grief, a then 12-year-old member of 4-H, heard this story and wanted to bring those benefits to other nursing home facilities in the area.
“Ken sent hand-written letters to dozens and dozens of nursing homes in Bergen and Passaic Counties,” explained Judy Grief, one of the earliest leaders of Ther-Happy Pets. “I have to admit that it was a bit of a tough sell at first. Once people started seeing the overwhelmingly positive response from the seniors though, we could barely keep up with the demand for visits! Since its inception, 4-H members of Ther-Happy Pets have visited more than 70 facilities in Northern New Jersey, and later this spring, we will be celebrating our 800th event.”
The Atrium Assisted Living at The Allendale Community for Mature Living is located at 85 Harreton Rd., in Allendale, which is conveniently accessed via private driveway off of Route 17 South. Developed in stages beginning in 1967, The Allendale Community pioneered modern-day eldercare. Today, the campus includes four distinct residences that offer a continuum of care, should a resident’s needs change: The Atrium Assisted Living; Carlton Court, a memory care neighborhood; The Allendale Nursing Home; and The Rehabilitation Center at The Allendale Community.
For more information about the Ther-Happy Pets’ visit to The Atrium or additional upcoming programs, please call Mary Stampleman at (201) 818-7979 or visit www.allendalecommunity.com. To contact 4-H Ther-Happy Pets, please email Diane Garbaccio, program leader, at 4Htherhappypets@gmail.com .
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Photo Caption: Allendale Community resident, Carmela Tazza, bonds with a new Shih Tzu friend at a past visit by the Ther-Happy Pets. The program is part of the 4-H Club of Bergen County and includes many different small animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters. The program provides many therapeutic benefits to seniors.