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Therapy Dog Supporting Members

September 1, 2020

A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to Dawnell Glunz, a speech and intervention specialist at Grand Island Central Catholic, and Shire, a certified therapy dog, for their work to provide emotional and mental support to GICC students and staff members now that in-person classes have resumed.

Glunz and Shire became certified in June as a therapy team through Healing Hearts Therapy Dogs.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, Principal Jordan Engle said, providing mental health services to students and staff members is critical. He said Shire will help with this.

“We have to make sure that, from a mental health standpoint, we are taking care of our students and staff, and providing opportunities for people to relieve stress if needed and make sure they acknowledge their mental health,” Engle said. “Having a dog here is definitely a good thing.”

Glunz is taking Shire into four full-time classes each school day and they also visit a rotation of classes.

“Shire’s job is to just be here for the emotional and mental support, as well as academic progress,” she said. “There is a ton of research that shows that dogs in schools provide emotional and mental support for the students. Therapy dogs across the board will bring down your anxiety, bring down your blood pressure and increase focus.” This is a unique approach that GICC has been able to take in lifting up both students and staff members. It is helping the school community cope during a stressful time. GICC deserves a treat on this one.  Mr. Habitat candidates boost Habitat for Humanity mission.

We also salute Josh Aitken, Grady Erickson, Travis Mittan, Ryan O’Neill and Gene Ulmer, who are vying for the title of 2020 Mr. Habitat through the Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity’s annual fundraiser.

Aitken is a chiropractor at Wilderness Ridge Chiropractic. Erickson is an attorney at Mayer, Burns and Koenig. Mittan works at Associated Staffing. O’Neill is an IT administrator at Amur Equipment Finance. Ulmer is an accountant.

Whoever raises the most money for Habitat for Humanity is crowned the winner. Each dollar donated equals one vote. Donations, which are tax-deductible, are accepted until Sept. 15.

The five men are individually holding fundraisers to build their own support. Then they will compete at the pageant, which is sold out, in formal wear, beach wear and talent. We encourage our readers to donate Habitat in the name of your favorite participants. It all goes to a worthy cause as Habitat provides quality housing for low-income residents of our community.

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