Pictured left to right: First Source Community Relations Assistant, Mariann Munson; First Source Associate Director of Marketing & Communications, Katie Ullman; First Source Chief Financial Officer, Pamela Goodison; First Source Community Development Manager, Edward Barone; First Source Manager of Branch Services, Stacey Vomer; Officer Marissa Vomer; Officer Penny; First Source Director of Member Services, Christopher Dovi; Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri; First Source President/CEO, Tom Neumann; Utica Police Chief Mark Williams; First Source Community Relations Supervisor, Pamela Way and First Source Director of Lending and Technology, John Calabrese.
The Healing Power Of Animals
First Source Federal Credit Union is thrilled to be able to help the Utica Police Department bring their new Therapy Dog initiative to life.
Meet, ”Penny” a sheep-a-doodle, chosen specifically for her mild and friendly temperament, the perfect demeanor for a therapy dog. PO Marissa Vomer who leads the Utica Police Crisis Intervention Team, spent 3 years researching this initiative. It’s the first of its kind in Utica and only the third in NYS with 2 successful therapy dogs deployed in Abany and Schenectady.
“First Source is honored to be able to help support and launch this initiative,” said Tom Neumann, First Source President/CEO of First Source. “Mental health awareness and understanding are an imperative need in so many areas. Having Penny the Therapy Dog as part of the UPD’s Crisis Response Team is a positive and necessary step as we continue to move into a more supportive environment when it comes to mental well-being.
Neumann added, “We love that Penny will be able to assist in many capacities in the community, in the courts, in schools, and in the Police Department as needed for those on staff that may have encountered traumatic experiences. Mental health support is an important initiative for First Source internally as well. Beginning October 1st, we are actually enhancing our Checking Account Rewards Program to include telehealth therapy visits with no co-pays for our members. We look forward to having Penny be able to participate in First Source events throughout the year as well. She is good natured, loving and sweet and a great addition to the team.”
There are several benefits to having a therapy dog on the force. In 2021, a therapy dog in Albany was successfully used to help talk a 14-year-old girl off of a rooftop she was threatening to jump from. The girl walked away from the ledge for the opportunity to be greeted by the therapy dog.
Other potential functions include:
Penny can sit with victims and witnesses to reduce anxiety and make them more comfortable speaking.
A therapy dog can help calm persons in crisis and make them more willing to accept the help they need.
Help with peer support functions within the police department, to comfort officers and help them deal with traumatic experiences.
Can assist schools during times of mental health crises, bereavement counseling, or any other appropriate request from the local school districts.
Demonstrations at schools and community events to help foster a more open dialogue between Police & the community.
First Source’s contribution is a multi-year sponsorship to help cover costs of the therapy dog program including Penny’s training, supplies, food and veterinary needs. Through this relationship Fist Source looks forward to also having Penny at some of their community events.
For more information, please contact Pamela Way, at email@example.com or 315-735-8571.