Safe PassageStart Date: 02/01/2022
It is evident that our HOPE partnership with Safe Passage has served a vital role when supporting our communities most vulnerable, our children. Willow and I feel honored to be able to provide a small piece of comfort and compassionate support to these children so they can begin to heal. Originally, we were scheduled for Wednesday, 2 Feb for a scheduled interview. I was called on Monday, 31 Jan and asked if we could reschedule with the same family a day earlier due to the impending snow storm. I was happy to accommodate.
Upon arrival I was notified that the family was running late so we were able to visit with the staff of Safe Passage in the offices and also visited with the staff in the CSPD side of the facility. All were thankful for visit. We waited in the main lobby of Safe Passage for the arrival of the family and met them when they arrived. The two youth to be interviewed were girls ages 10 and 16. They were very shy and appeared unsure of what to do next. The receptionist eagerly introduced them to us and the younger child came right over to us to pet Willow and focused all her attention to Willow petting her, reading her card and Willow eagerly interacted with her while I told them about her and what her jobs are. We sat for a while in the main waiting area, the older teen just wanting to watch her sister interact with Willow and not participate herself. The mom left to talk with the CSPD officer. While the receptionist was attending to a separate matter, I showed the girls the youth area and asked if they would be more comfortable in there than in the lobby and the younger youth eagerly wanted to wait in that area and her older sister followed. I showed them around the room and the volunteer told them about the games and activities that were available in the room. The older teen sat in silence and watched her sister interact with Willow and I could see she enjoyed watching tricks her sister was having Willow perform and how calm Willow was when she was being petted and hugged, but did not choose to participate directly. Both girls were very subdued (understandably) they did not interact or even talk with each other. I invited the girls to play a board game with me, while the older teen was not interested the younger youth went to choose a board game while her sister focused on her cell phone. Finally the conversation started to develop and the younger girl was quietly asking questions and commenting about Willow, telling me about her cat named Menace, and was excited (without many words spoken) to set up the game and pieces and show me how to play the game, I noticed every few seconds she would lean over just to give Willow (who was resting at her feet) a pet and to look at her as she rested. As we started playing, the officers came to get them for their interviews. She asked if we could still play the game when she came back and I let her know we would both be here.
We took a break outside while waiting and upon return saw the older teen was back sitting in the lobby after her interview. I could tell she was wanting to be alone for a while so Willow and I went back to the youth area while the receptionist stayed with her there. The younger youth soon came back and immediately came to the area and wanted to pet Willow and commence with the game. It was almost like a different child came back to the room, very chatty and talkative. She talked about her class at school, her cat Menace, friends she played with and what she likes to do in her play time. She was excited to make up new rules for the game and was excited to win each set we played. I continued to notice while she talked, she would continue to lean over and pet Willow while focusing on the game and winning. The counselor came to let her know her mom was ready and they could leave now. We met the mom and older teen back in the lobby and said our goodbyes as the younger youth showed us her new toys. As they left, the older teen lagged behind a little and came to me and thanked me and hugged Willow...Even in silence and without interaction, it proved to me the power of our K9's work even when you think someone really does not care!