This video is about the Comfort Dog Ministry
I'M HERE AT MY NEW HOME!
I’m Jewel Comfort Dog for Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, and I’m so happy and excited to be in East Tennessee! All Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K-9 Comfort Dogs have a Bible verse with their AKC official name. Mine is Jewel Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
I arrived here Sunday, August 17, 2014, and have been getting acquainted with the Jewel Comfort Dog Team and members of our church. I was still considered a “Comfort Dog in Training”, so I’ve been working with my new handlers and have taken so many nice trips around E TN, it’s so beautiful here … I love the mountains! Everyone here is so friendly and I’ve made a lot of new friends! I like going to Walmart, Home Depot, Food Lion, Dollar General and I even got to go to the Knoxville Airport! There are so many nice people here that love to pet and hug me. I was honored to go to “The Neighborhood” in Tellico Village and met some real nice people there; I think they liked me too. I got to visit one of our members at his home after he came home from the hospital, he gave real good hugs! I also got to visit a real nice lady in Sweetwater that had just turned 93 and doesn’t get around very well anymore; she was thrilled that I came to see her too.
My home is with a couple from church that loves dogs, am I a lucky dog or what? He heads up our Comfort Dog Ministry and he is called the Top Dog! I’m still wondering what that’s all about ...
On Sunday, September 7th, during the 8:30 a.m. worship service, they had the “Passing of the Leash” where Rich Martin, the director for LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry from Addison, IL, and a good friend of mine, passed the leash to Christ Our Savior, making me their official Comfort Dog. It was wonderful seeing so many friendly people who said they love me already, it was pawsome! Later in the afternoon, a nice lady, Melissa Lee, from WVLT-CH 8 TV station, and a great guy, Jeff Mondlock, from WBIR-CH 10, in Knoxville, came to meet me and learn all about my church’s Comfort Dog Ministry. They even asked if they could have their picture made with me! They filmed me working and even playing outside in our playground. They loved seeing me just being a dog, playing with my ball and frisbee and even going down the slide! They were surprised I could do that! It was a wonderful day for me, my team and our church.
I look forward to wearing my brand new vest with my name on it as I start a wonderful journey to give comfort to hurting people here in East Tennessee … and beyond. I hope I get to meet you too!
Jewel Philippians 2:3
Would like like to visit with me?
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1.
I give comfort and bring a calming influence to people, and this allows them to open up their hearts and receive help for what is affecting them. My handlers offer to pray with people and show the love of Christ to them. You see, it’s not about me, a dog, I’m just the instrument that God uses to help hurting people. I have a very busy schedule and wanted you to know just where you can find me every week: Sunday-greet at both services and the Bible Class. Monday-visit Morning Pointe and The Lantern. Tuesday-Child Advocacy Center. Wednesday-Special Ed Children. Thursday-NHC and Steekee School Counseling. Friday-The Neighborhood. Second Saturday of the month-Buddy Break. Don't forget to call the church office and let them know if you want a visit from me!
Love, Jewel Philippians 2:3
JEWEL COMFORT DOG BRINGS LOVE AND COMPASSION TO BATON ROUGE
On August 20th, Trinity Lutheran Church in Baton Rouge requested that Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dogs join their members and the community as they recovered from the devastation caused by the flooding . This was my second de-ployment to Baton Rouge, having been there a month before after three po-licemen were killed in the line of duty. I was joined by seven other Comfort Dogs from across the country. Due to thousands being homeless, we had to find lodging in New Orleans. This meant an 80 mile drive one way, each day, to meet with those who were hurting and in need. On Sunday and Monday we left New Orleans at 6:00 A.M. in order to greet worshipers at Trinity Lutheran Church for the 8:00 service and day-school students on Monday as they arrived for the "second" start of the school year. School officially began two days before the flooding, but then was closed for a week.
Because this flooding impacted so many, in addition to our pre-arranged visits, wherever we went we met people in need of comfort…Home Depot, Lowes, grocery stores, restaurants, and just walking the streets. For many people, being able to hug, pet, and snuggle for a few minutes with a soft golden retriever, was just the break they needed during this stressful time. We were welcomed by the Gonzalez Police Department which was in an area that had suffered much destruction due to flooding. The officers and support staff were working endless hours in response. I saw my friend Jenny there, and she remembered me from a month earlier!! We also stopped to visit with the folks working with the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief. They sent out 14,000 meals daily with the help of Red Cross. Truly the hands and feet of Jesus.
Many of those displaced from their homes were housed at the Celtic Media Centre. We offered our comfort and support to the staff from the Department of Children and Family Services who had been working tirelessly for over a week to care for these people. We saw very little flood waters, but the devastation it had caused was enormous. For block after block in the neighborhoods, all of the contents of homes were piled high along the curbs. Drywall was pulled out down to the studs. It was a sickening sight to see and to imagine the memories of so many years piled up just waiting for the trash removal trucks.
On the final day, we revisited the Baton Rouge Police Headquarters where I had spent much time the previous month with officers and staff. We were warmly received, and after visiting with officers on duty, Deputy Chief David Hamilton, whom I had met earlier, presented each of the Comfort Dog Teams with a "challenge coin" from the Baton Rouge Police Department. That was a very special honor.
I am now back to my normal schedule in Tellico Village and the surrounding area. My prayer is that I am not needed in other parts of the country for a while. Meeting with those affected by a disaster is heartbreaking, but knowing the calming influence that we Comfort Dogs have as we share the love and compassion of Jesus with others, makes all the travel and time very worthwhile. Thank you for your prayers and your support the Comfort Dog Ministry. I am honored and blessed to represent the members of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church.
Jewel Philippians 2:3
Surfside, Florida Condominium Collapse Visit
Steve & Judy Schoenherr have returned with Jewel from Surfside, FL, where Jewel and her team ministered to people who are suffering after the recent condominium building collapse. Jewel was deployed to Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School in North Miami, Florida, about six miles from the collapse.
In the wake of community devastation in Surfside, Florida, Holy Cross Lutheran Church in north Miami facilitated nine golden retrievers trained by the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry to provide emotional relief on-site. The dogs visited the church’s school and the memorial site where families have hung messages, pictures and tokens on a chain-link fence. LCC volunteers made dozens of wooden memorial markers and drove them to Surfside to be placed at the memorial site, one for each confirmed victim. The memorial markers are part of the LCC Hearts of Mercy & Compassion Ministry.
As you know, LCC’s Comfort Dogs ministry is part and parcel of the overall mission of Lutheran Church Charities — “to share the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need.” When a crisis happens and LCC Comfort Dogs are asked to help, the handlers drop their life, they erase the dog’s schedule, they get in their cars and they go. The ministry doesn’t charge those it serves. One example how the Comfort Dogs help, a handler asked one little girl at the school why she was sad, and the girl said she couldn’t say. The handler told her she could whisper it to the dog and he wouldn’t tell anybody. The little girl got down there and whispered away in the dog’s ear. The handler had no clue what she whispered, but then she got up, and she seemed like a weight was lifted off her.
Another Jewel Story
In early December, Jewel was invited to Pellissippi Community College campus in Hardin Valley. The purpose of the visit was to provide “comfort” and help the nursing students to relax as they were preparing for their final exams. Jewel settled in the commons area, and for two hours, students and other friends stopped by to pet Jewel and release some of the stress of finals.
Jewel had previously established a relationship with some of the students during her weekly visits at NHC. As part of their first year curriculum in nurses training, students volunteered one morning per week at NHC for “hands-on” training. After seeing the comfort and joy Jewel brought to the staff and residents there, the nursing instructor, Sandi Murphy, decided Jewel would be a calming presence for those preparing for their final exams.
The following was written on Jewel’s FaceBook page by one nursing student: “I was fortunate enough to meet you in the lobby before you met with the students. You gave me puppy kisses on my ear and they were needed and greatly appreciated since I am feeling sad this week for some reason. Thank you for the work you do not just with nursing students, but with folks who are hurting. You certainly live out the scripture on your business card.”
A Day in the Life of Jewel, the Comfort Dog
Jewel was up early for a busy morning ahead! Our first appointment was at Steekee School where we met the school counselor. She is always aware of students that may benefit from some one-on-one time with Jewel. As the counselor brought each student in individually, he or she would sit with Jewel on her rug, brush her, pat her and often talk to her. They love to tell us about their pets and often have questions about Jewel. (They also, often, don’t want to leave!) It’s apparent they really begin to relax during these visits.
Then it’s back in the car for a ride to NHC. After a brief walk outdoors, we sign in and begin room visits with those we know look forward to seeing her every week. And, it’s not only the residents, but also the staff! It’s very common to hear, “Oh, Jewel is here!” as they kneel down to greet her with lots of affection. A short tour through the rehabilitation room follows, stopping by the machines as patients work hard to regain their mobility. You can see their faces light up with smiles as she passes by.
Later, we drive back to Tellico Village, Jewel is snoozing in the back seat. A nap
Kristin & Mike Belding, Handlers
"BETTER THAN MEDICINE"
On a recent visit to NHC, Jewel and I stopped in to see one of the longer term residents, a 90+ year old lady that we had visited several times before. Although her body is failing, her mind is still very sharp. In a previous visit, she had asked me if I knew about her new friend? She pointed to a framed pho-tograph of Pope Francis standing beside her in her wheelchair. After she had sufficiently "reeled me in" and received a full measure of admiration from me, she giggled and admitted the photo had been "doctored" with Photoshop. At first, I felt I had been duped too easily, but then I was pleased that she would feel comfortable enough with me to have a little fun like that. I think at that point, I realized our relationship had reached a new level.
My initial visitations with this lady had centered on our Comfort Dog Jewel --- petting her, admiring her, talking to her. And although that is still a part of our visits, the focus now is more person-to-person. We talk about her concerns, blessings, funny things and sad things, her many experiences here on earth, and her anticipation of heaven. We always end our visit with a prayer, holding hands, and with an occa-sional nuzzle from Jewel, just to let us know she is still there. On our last visit, as Jewel and I were pre-paring to leave, our lady friend said, "You know, this is better than medicine. I feel so calm and peace-ful." It struck me that she was talking about the love of Jesus Christ in action. He is the source of true peace, and we are called to be the messengers.
So, as you can see, just as our relationships with patients and residents evolve to a new level, so does the Comfort Dog Ministry itself. We now need more caring Christians who can share a little person-to-person time with those who need comfort and compassion. Jewel has helped us with the introductions, and she makes new ones every day. But the next level requires people --- people who will simply share the love of the Lord. It’s really not difficult, and any of the Comfort Dog team members can give you more information if you are moved to help. The experience is so rewarding, and after your first few visi-tations, you’ll see that it really is "better than medicine".
Each Monday Jewel goes to Morning Pointe and the Lantern in Lenoir City. At Morning Pointe (an assisted living center) Jewel greets people sitting in the activities room either playing Bingo or having an afternoon snack. If the weather is nice, she meets with them sitting outside enjoying the after-noon sun. Jewel enjoys this very much. After these group meetings, she goes on to about six rooms of residents that prefer to stay in their rooms for various reasons. She brings such joy to these people as they pet her and talk to her. These visits usually allow us to share a prayer with them. Just seeing their smiles make us happy and most times we come away with more joy than we could ever bring to them. These visits have also blossomed into a weekly Bible Study that Pastor Mark teaches which many of the residents enjoy.
The Lantern is a bit more of a challenge due to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s. We usually get to their great room where either old time music, Gospel music, or classic movies are playing. She greets many of the residents there. We then move on to a few rooms where she does more one on one visits and we have the opportunity to share the love of God with them.
We have learned a lot from these wonderful people and we enjoy these visits. It is amazing to see how God can use a dog to bring comfort and His Word to people in need.
By Susan and Mark Roeder
JEWEL—THANKING YOU FOR BEING HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS
"I didn't know exactly where to send an actual thank you note once I saw that the comfort dogs came from all over. My name is Traci Sterba and I am from Denham Springs, Louisiana. I am married with two children, Emma age 8 and Luke age 6. We lost our home in the August flood in Louisiana. We also attend Trinity Lutheran Church in Baton Rouge. My kids attend BRLS and I teach there as well. It was a welcome comfort to see those wonderful dogs greet us at our school after such a tragedy that affected many of us. It gave my two kids as well as the other students peace and comfort to enjoy time with the dogs. Honestly, I could have stayed there all day and hugged and petted those dogs. I also want to thank you for the gift cards you gave us. I call these gifts our little hopes. These hopes will get us through each day. We know as a family that God has a plan for us and we have faith He will see us through. We have our good days and our bad days but with our family, friends and our Christian family, I know we are loved and supported. Thank you again for the comfort dogs' visit and for the gift cards. They are greatly appreciated!
Love from Louisiana- Traci, Shane, Emma and Luke Sterba"
Jewel Pups Bringing Long Distance Comfort!!
I’m sad, that because of the virus , I can’t find a new home for my puppies, and they are getting anxious to go . I can tell that the pups are eager because they don’t listen and they won’t eat. ♥Jewel
Although my team and I are not doing any traveling right now, these three Jewel pups have made their way to a new home in Odessa, Texas! After learning that my friends had been, involved in a car accident with their Mom and Grandma, I decided they all needed a little extra love♥ and comfort to ease some of those lumps and bumps. Looks like my pups are doing their best in bringing healing and smiles all around.
God bless you...♥️Jewel
Jewel received this thank you note from her new Texas friends:
I just wanted to let you know we received the Comfort dogs on Friday...my kids were so surprised and happy to have received them. They take them to bed every night
Thank you for blessing them.. And thank you for your ministry!!
These two Jewel pups traveled all the way to New York where they are bringing smiles and comfort to Kaylie and Christopher. Their mom and dad both work for the Emergency Medical Service and this has been a difficult time for the Barbou family, especially Kaylie and Christopher. Marita and Kevin Kelly, are family friends and sent a care package including my Jewel pups. Wish I could be there in person to give some tail wags and licks!!!
We received this note back from Sherry: “The kids love the pups. Thank you so much. I was fortunate to meet Kevin through work at Flushing Hospital, and I later connected with Marita. Both amazing people with big hearts!!!” ♥