FEMA -- Back to the Office

Start Date: 2022-03-02

Description: Third day we had teams down there. Monday, building management only allowed our teams to be way up the stairs and remote from security entry to FEMA. Not great. Yesterday, they wanted us to stay outside, in the cold! But after seeing some FEMA folks finding us, down on the floor, interacting with our dogs, the idea that this was a really good thing, was not hard to sell. Hotel co-located agreed to allow us to stay on their side. With current national events, we wouldn't be allowed to visit their secured offices, so at best we would have been at the foot of their entry way, but probably blocking their security. So this is probably the best solution anyway. At our request yesterday, everyone that came by and asked if they could take a picture of our dogs, we would tell them "only if you take those pictures back upstairs and show them to your friend and co-workers, and tell them that they need to come down to see us". And we have been told that the upstairs offices are covered with our pictures. A ton of people coming to see dogs, but sit down on floor next to us and allow us to engage them in conversation. Many talk about how effective we have been in the past. Sharing stories of the hurricanes of 2017, and how important having teams such as the Bear and Emma, was to them. "Great to have fan clubs". New team with us today, so we stayed longer than we had planned, as we didn't want to leave them alone. Another new team coming in tomorrow from out-of-town. We will go back to support the effort, and especially that new team. My idea tomorrow will be to start using the term "These are your FEMA-HOPE comfort dogs". (i did this a little today.) They know well that we are HOPE AACR. That we are their constant, potential partner. I've done drill with the American Red Cross, who refer to us as their Red Cross dogs. I'd like to see FEMA feel the same way. Great opportunity for relationship / image building. Lots of turn over, so having the old "guard" tell their "war stories", and having the newbies hear them, has been great.

Agency: FEMA Headquarters
Teams: Shellie Goldstein & Emma / Nancy Chesley & Zoey