Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has hired Santa Barbara native, Jody Williams, as their new Development Coordinator. Williams resides in Solvang and comes from a background in nonprofits, events and marketing. She has held positions as Assistant Director at The Elverhøj Museum in Solvang and is the current President & CEO of the Solvang School Arts and Music Foundation.
Previously Williams owned Wandering Dog Wine Bar in downtown Solvang with her husband and in-laws which they operated for 13 years. She brings a passion for education and philanthropy to the position paired with a love for dogs and the special human canine bond that makes them our best friends.
Williams is dedicated to supporting the organization and helping grow their volunteer teams within Santa Barbara County. “The love we share with our pets is truly a magical part of life. I would take my daughter weekly to Solvang Library to participate in their Tail Waggin’ Tutors program and we both enjoyed it so much.”
Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara was founded by Karen Lee Stevens in 1997 to teach children how to safely and respectfully interact with animals, thus reducing incidences of animal abuse and dog bites. Their services grew to include literacy development through their reading program ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), promote mental health through their Mindful Kids program, and enrich the lives of children and adults through school visits and other community outreach.
The ARF! program consists of 4-week visits to local schools where children who are shy and reluctant readers have a safe space to read aloud to certified therapy dogs. At the end of the 4-week program, the children receive a Graduation Certificate and have greater self-confidence to read aloud.
The Mindful Kids program was co-created in 2019 by TDSB Founder Karen Lee Stevens and Cat Smith. They are both trained Mindfulness Instructors, and through this course, they teach children the skills they need to reduce stress and anxiety and remain focused and calm in the demands of daily life at home, school, sports, social situations, etc. Therapy dogs participate in each session to bring an added sense of calm and happiness to the children.
If you would like to help Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara expand its services, please consider donating today! Donations can be made at TherapyDogsSB.org, mailed to PO Box 3534, Santa Barbara, CA 93130 or by calling 805-682-3160.
If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Therapy Dog Team or interested in enrolling in a therapy dog training class, please contact Karen at 805-682-3160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on therapy dog training. The next therapy dog training class starts in January 2023.