Steamboat Springs Pet dogs have the capacity to bring solace into the lives of people facing adversity some would say it's the power to heal, or heel as the case may be.
Heeling Friends is a local not-for-profit organization that is preparing dogs and their owners to visit hospitals, women's shelters and schools. It's also one of three organizations to receive grants in the latest round of funding from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
Lynette Weaver, director of Heeling Friends, said her organization will use its grant of $1,625 to provide essential training of three volunteers who will become certifying instructors able to approve dog and handler teams.
Weaver said she has overcome some initial reticence about taking her dog to visit gravely ill hospital patients.
Now, she said she takes immense satisfaction from the visits.
"We've had numerous occasions when you walk in and people are very somber. You wonder if you should be there," Weaver said. "As soon as they open their eyes and see you, a smile will spread across their faces. Then, it's easy to begin a conversation. Usually they talk about their own dogs."
Heeling Friends, which is in the process of officially changing its name from Heeling Paws, is a good fit for the mission statement of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
The foundation "develops annual and growing funds to support organizations and innovative programs that preserve traditions and maintain the character of the community," it serves.
The recent grant to Heeling Friends was part of the foundation's latest round of quarterly granting. It's one of two ways the foundation delivers grants to the community.
The other is through donor-advised grants which are targeted in advance for specific causes.
Funds for the competitive grants are generated through the Passport Club membership program. In partnership with the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., the foundation offers transferable ski medallions and other benefits to donors.
The foundation has a total of $57,250 to grant in 2001 and thus far has awarded $24,635.
Other organizations that received grants in the latest round include the Steamboat Community Players, which received $1,760 to subsidize tickets for children attending an original production, "Yo, Yowzers." The play tackles the theme of "compromise."
The Steamboat Arts Council will receive $1,500 to upgrade its computers and a voice mail system.
One of the criteria for competitive grants is the applicant's work with other community