Encana helps bring "hope" to RMHSA

Puppy will provide comfort and companionship to families
Sep 7, 2011 5:30 PM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) September 7, 2011 - Encana and Ronald McDonald House® Southern Alberta (RMHSA) have been partners for years, working together to build a better community. Encana’s support for the organization has been diverse, including employee matching gifts, sponsorship of a children’s playroom, staff volunteer time and a $292,000 pledge to help build a new House in Red Deer. This summer, Encana and RMHSA partnered in a unique way and brought a little canine compassion to the House – introducing the Paws Project and a puppy named Asha.

“When families stay at the House, they’re forced to leave everything behind for extended periods of time,” says Kelly Knight, Senior Communications Coordinator at RMHSA. “We want to provide as much of a home environment as possible, and one thing families always say they miss the most are their pets.”

The Paws Project, which brings a full-time therapy dog into RMHSA, is a first for a Ronald McDonald House in Canada. The program is modelled after four Ronald McDonald Houses in the U.S. which have implemented therapy dog programs with great success. Therapy dogs provide a number of benefits, like improving psychological wellbeing, alleviating anxiety and depression, boosting the immune systems of hospitalized patients and, most importantly, providing companionship, comfort and a sense of normalcy to families who are coping with the stress of a child’s illness while away from home.  

RMHSA worked with a dog behaviourist to help lay out the specifics of the house dog program, determine an appropriate breed and locate a reputable breeder. The dog selected for the House, named Asha, a Hindi word meaning hope, is a female Australian Labradoodle. Asha’s name was selected from a short-list of names generated by Encana staff through a contest.

“The response to our content was amazing,” says Patricia Etris, Team Lead, Community Involvement for Encana. “We were thrilled to see 387 entries and so many of our staff getting personally involved with the Paws Project and Ronald McDonald House.” 

“We had over 30 votes from the resident families and almost everyone wanted Asha. They all loved the meaning,” adds Kelly.

To find out more about how you can support Ronald McDonald House®Southern Alberta, visit their website at www.rmhsouthernalberta.org.