I am Jeanene Hupy, Founder of Comfort Connections – Nashville. Our mission is to provide community sponsored therapy dogs to provide healing, support and comfort for crisis intervention and ongoing support to school students and faculty to increase connection through understanding, empathy, acceptance and inclusion. Comfort Connections – Nashville teaches and equips children and adults with the skills to create compassionate connections in order to awaken empathy and comfort to those who are hurting and isolated. We will utilize our lovely golden retrievers as “teachers” by providing evidenced based workshops and programs that teach, train and equip ordinary people to bring comfort and personal connection.
I became involved in a comfort dog program when I lived in Connecticut shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. When the students returned to school, they were greeted by 14 beautiful golden retrievers. I became a trained handler for one of those amazing canines. Comfort dog Addie and I witnessed and heard how safe the students felt having the dogs there. When they were unable or unwilling to speak with crisis counselors, the would talk to the dogs. We saw stress levels diminish, compassion increase and most importantly… a community heal. My eyes were opened to the depth of the another growing crisis. The crisis of loneliness, depression, anxiety and isolation. The crisis of disconnection. It is my hope that the dogs will serve as a bridge to open communication with students who are struggling.