How long have you volunteered with CMHA Kelowna?
Mars is a certified therapy dog handled by Aaryn Secker. Mars and Aaryn volunteer in the Wellness Development Centre and at Foundry Kelowna. Mars joined the CMHA Volunteer team in 2018.
What makes this volunteer experience a meaningful use of your time?
The company and comfort of a dog can have many benefits for our mental wellness. Unfortunately, having a dog is not an option for many people because of housing and financial reasons. By volunteering as a therapy dog, Mars can help ensure that people still experience those benefits. Dogs can be very sensitive to how we feel, so I think Mars knows when someone he’s visiting is feeling happier or more relaxed. He also gets treats – lots of treats!
What is the most memorable accomplishment of your volunteer experience with CMHA?
A benefit for Mars has been increased confidence from being able to meet and socialize with so many people. He’s always been a friendly dog, or else he wouldn’t be suited for this role, but I’ve noticed that he’s come out of his shell, so to speak. For me as his handler, I have been able to meet many wonderful people and have some great conversations.