Featured Face of the 2017 Champagne Brunch is Calli, a Pomsky owned by team member, Sharon Flammia. Photo generously donated by CCPT teams: Stan Oakes and Michelle Ostrander.
On a warm, sunny October day, Creature Comfort Pet Therapy held their Annual Champagne Brunch at Brooklake Country Club in Florham Park. The event was a huge success! There were beautiful Silent Auction and Raffle baskets filled with enticing items and lovely live music by guitarist and music therapist, Erin Bolding. The Emcee was Heather O’Rourke, Traffic Anchor for WABC TV Eyewitness News in the Morning, who is also a pet therapy team for CCPT with her dog, Rocco. Heather told the engaging story of why and how she became a team, and how much she and her daughter Ella (a junior team) love doing therapy visits with Rocco.
Joseph Caruso, Chairman of the Board, welcomed guests and thanked the generous sponsors. Mary Beth Cooney, Executive Director, shared the impressive numbers for the year - 4081 visits touching a minimum of 40,000 people in our 177 partner facilities in 13 counties. She also reported on the exciting developments for the year:
The installation of a Volunteer Scheduling Program to streamline the system for the volunteers to sign up for visits; partnerships with dog trainers who prepare dogs and their owners for the CCPT evaluation test, highlighting Paws-itive Experience Pet Services in Rockaway where 12 teams will be evaluated this month among the 22 evaluations in October; and the very big news that CCPT will be launching a new website by the end of the month.
The 5 Paw Sponsor and Honoree for the day was Cornerstone Day School, a private therapeutic school in Mountainside for students in grades 5-12 with major emotional and psychiatric problems. Creature Comfort teams visit the school three times a week to bring comfort and healing to the students and staff. In this first year of partnership with the school, 40 different teams have chosen to do visits there. The speaker, Leonore Johnston, Executive Director of Cornerstone, expressed the importance of the therapy visits and the huge positive effect they have on the students. She also showed a heartwarming slide presentation of our dogs in action with the children and teens.
A very special portion of the program was the presentation of “The Annie Award”, in honor of our Co-Founder, Annie Murphy, who we lost to her battle with cancer this summer. The recognition was given to a person who has gone “above and beyond” for CCPT as Annie always did. The winner of this first “Annie Award” was Nancy Fernandez, a fully volunteer staff member since 2015, who is not only responsible for arranging all visits on the calendar but also on-boarding the new facilities. Joan Baer, Co-Founder of the organization, along with Mary Beth Cooney, did this emotional presentation. In true Annie spirit, there was comic relief when they played Annie’s favorite song, “Who Let the Dogs Out.”
At the event, Mary Beth thanked everyone there for having a role in the continuation of this important mission. We would like to once again thank the sponsors for their generous support (please see the attached list) and everyone who came and supported our mission. If you were not able to attend this year, we hope you will join us next time. It is always a lovely and moving event.