23 January

Meeting John At The Mansion

by Jon Katz
Meeting John

I’ve seen John at the Mansion but never talked to him before. He seems a quiet and shy man, we never approached him because I wasn’t sure he wanted to see Red. Watching him today, I could see the longing in his face, and I brought Red over to him, and I could see that I was wrong, he very much wanted to see Red. He also left a beloved dog behind.

I introduced myself, and we shook hands. I said I’d love to spend some time getting to know him, and he  nodded. I think it might take awhile. He was very happy to see Red, a broad and deep smile came over his face.

I much enjoy the Mansion work with Red, I feel so at home there, and I am familiar to the people who live there. There is much warmth and love in the Mansion and Red is figuring out who to see and where and for how long. I am lucky to have a dog like this. I am looking forward to  hearing his story.

You can, if you wish, write to John c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

23 January

The Mansion: Joan And Her Memories

by Jon Katz

At the Mansion, Red evokes memories in Joan, as in other people. Memories are precious at the Mansion, older people have lost much that they love in life when they come here, but not their memories. Dogs are a magic key to memory, they unlock feelings and stories, and I love to sit and listen to the stories – about dogs, children, spouses, cats, work and life.

I call Red a Memory Catcher sometimes, he collects memories and they surround him like a loving and beautiful cloud. You can write Joan c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

23 January

Valentine’s Day Looms: Red And Jean At The Mansion

by Jon Katz
At The Mansion

Valentine’s Day was in the air at the Mansion today, some of the residents were working on Valentine’s Day cards to send some New Jersey students who had sent them some Valentine’s Day cards, which they loved. In fact, writing the cards was today’s activity in the Activity Room.

Valentine’s Day is in the air there, there are baskets with hearts on them made by the staff, and I imagine some other stuff on the way from all over the country. I’m keeping it a surprise. But I think the staff knows, they read the blog. They are making room on the bulletin boards: The Mansion, 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Red spent some time with Jean, she was very happy to see him. Many of the residents ask Red to give him his paw,  he is not trained to do any kind of tricks. But once during every visit, he offers his paw spontaneously – and very delicately – to his friends. Dog’s claws are important in therapy work, they can easily tear the skin of an older person if the dog is not careful and his nails not trimmed.

I am always humbled by the depth of feeling animals bring out in people. Red is a powerful example to me of the gift of animals to entertain and uplift people, even thought that has somehow – incomprehensibly to me – become controversial. I am understanding why people hate political correctness so much. It too often chokes the human spirit.

For those who asked, here are the first names of the Mansion residents who wish to receive messages. Some can respond, some can’t: Jean A., Mary, Gerry, Sylvie, Diane, Alice, Jean, Madeline, Joan, Allan, Carl (Bob), John K., Aileen, Christie, Helen, Connie, Alanna, Barbara, Peggie, Dennis, John R., Bruce, John Z.

Red was in wonderful form today, he made the rounds, was sweet and patient. After about 30-45 minutes, he is tired, and I stop. It is draining for good therapy dogs, intense kind of work.

23 January

Beautiful Gift, Baling String From Tennessee

by Jon Katz
Baling String

I used to forbid gifts, even returned some of them, and they still sometimes make me uncomfortable. I never feel I deserve them, and it is not necessary for people to send us gifts. But my idea about gifts has changed, sometimes we get the most beautiful, surprising, thought and affirming gifts, it lifts us up. Sometimes, it is a gift to people who sent gifts to receive them.

But today, there was a big box at our Post Office Box (P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816) from Cathy Brennan of Tennesse, we were surprised and delighted to open it and find red and blue baling string, we both laughed and were touched by the thoughtfulness.

Cathy wrote: “Hope this helps with your new chair project. You and Jon are so uplifting. Reading  your blogs is a daily joy. Thank you for being yourselves!”

Thanks back, Cathy,  you are a joy to us. We love our loves, and our freedom to be ourselves, hard fought and always a bit of a struggle. It is so very touching that you would take the trouble to send us baling wire (for the hay) from Tennessee, Maria was delighted to get it and will include it in Fiber Chair 2.

It means so  much to use our creativity to lift people up, there are so many people eager to bring us down. I’ll keep at it and thank you.

23 January

Army Of Good: Your Refugee Aid Is Filling Up The Warehouse

by Jon Katz
Army Of Good: Filling The Warehouse

I got a message this afternoon from Anne, who is helping the new refugees coming to my area, that the warehouse volunteers in Albany are “in a tizzy,” they are so excited about the orders that are already coming through from the special Amazon page set up for the refugee arrivals by the U.S. Committee on Refugees And Immigrants.

The refugees are just beginning to arrive here.

The donations, she said, are filling up the warehouse, and allowing volunteers to include these inexpensive but essential household items in the apartments being set up for the refugees who are arriving this week.  There are so many orders coming the volunteers had to postpone assembling the children’s welcome bags. These household items are more urgent.

And the need is still very great.

This is so important and will make such an enormous difference in their lives, many have suffered greatly getting here, and will be frightened and disoriented – and needy –  when they arrive, especially in the middle of an upstate New York winter. The volunteers have set up a special Amazon Page so it is simple to purchase these very inexpensive and practical items.

You can see them on the page, they range from $6 to $30. These new Americans need everything – sheets, blankets, towels, glasses, plates, teapots, coffee makers, towels, blenders. None of it is expensive, all of it is practical and essential.

This is very simple to do, I ordered a few things on the Amazon Page and it took me a little over a minute.

I am not seeking to enter the controversy over immigration raging around the country, these people are all here legally and are seeking nothing more than the peace and safety and opportunity that America has always meant to them.They are arriving this week, and I will be assigned a family to work with shortly.

As the descendant of immigrants – and who isn’t in America? – I relate to the challenges these families face in coming here. Most of them have left everything behind, or never had all that much. Anything you can do to help would be much appreciated and not forgotten. You can check it out here.

And thanks again for helping, or thinking of helping, or just reading this far. You are an Army Of Good. This is the kind of thing I mean to be doing all year, and beyond. Small acts of kindness and good. I will not be arguing my beliefs on Facebook or anywhere else.

This is not an exercise of the left or the right, but of good people who just want to do a bit of good. You can do good here. The need is great, you can make a difference and show these families what the true heart and soul of America is all about..

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