Center of Hope introduces animals to the programming

The idea for introducing animals at the Center of Hope began when Jenny Kiser, QIDP, Tammy Chandler, human resources generalist, and several other staff expressed their passion for animals. The program started with Barbara the goldfish, which some of our participants enjoy seeing daily.

The program expanded when two guinea pigs needed a home that would give them more attention than they were receiving. The guinea pigs spend their days at the Center visiting various classrooms and enjoying fruits, veggies, and hay. Sometimes, they get to go outside to enjoy the fresh air and exercise. It was evident just how excited everyone was of the guinea pigs so we knew we could do more to help the community as well as explore more pets for the participants.

The Center then had an opportunity to foster kittens from the Winnebago County Animal Services. The participants are excited to see the kittens every day. If someone wants to hold a kitten, there is a room that allows for safe handling, very similar to how WCAS trains their volunteers at their Pet Smart locations.

The Center recently received a donation to purchase a chicken coop, food supplies and a run for chickens. We will soon have three chicks and are excited for what comes next.

“The best part of all of this, is the fact that we are able to provide opportunities for our participants that they have not been able to experience. They are building connections with the animals and I am grateful to be a part of that,” said Tammy.

Jenny added, “The program came up as an idea and was fortunately approved so as to benefit our people who enjoy animals while at COH during the day. We really see a lot of very meaningful interactions between our participants and guinea pigs, kittens, fish and soon to be chickens!”

Meet Lisa Harvell

Lisa Harvell, direct support professional, has been at the Center of Hope for 22 years. We asked Lisa about her time at the Center.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen over the years? There have been a lot of changes over the years. I’m not sure if I can pinpoint the biggest one. Staff training is more involved now. Ceramics & Moments Remembered were closed. Shredding & Gourmutts were started. There is more work for our participants.

What keeps you at the Center? I have stayed at the Center because of the participants. The work can be stressful at times, but they always bring a smile to my face. Also, the one thing that has never changed that I noticed from day one. The executive director has always been on the floor interacting with staff and participants; feeding participants, covering rooms, and helping out wherever needed. The executive director at the facility I worked previously stayed in their office all the time.


Monday, July 5 – Independence Day observed. (COH Closed)