Gary Turner, a network engineer for First National Bank since 1997, and his wife Penny regularly take their Bernese Mountain Dogs, Archie and Moritz, to visit the children of Spofford Home, a modern multi-service family treatment agency connecting child, family and community with foster care and child adoption programs. Spofford Home is located in Kansas City, Missouri.
The children of Spofford Home have all suffered some type of abuse. The animal-assisted therapy Mr. Turner and his wife provide during their weekly visits allows residents the opportunity to work on anger-management, sharing and socialization skills in a non-judgmental environment with the dogs. While providing comfort, the children also have the opportunity to learn the importance of caring and nurturing their animal friends.
Mr. Turner’s faithfulness to the children doesn’t stop with his visits with Archie and Moritz. He and Penny are now considered “special dorm friends” because of their unwavering commitment to the children, as well as the external support they provide.
An example of Mr. Turner’s loyalty to the Spofford residents is a one-on-one mentorship he had with a young male resident who has special needs. It was evident that this resident in particular needed not only a mentor, but also a friend who genuinely cared about him. Mr. Turner was able to form a special bond with the teen by gaining his trust and proving his reliability and affection. Mr. Turner’s attentiveness helped the adolescent’s self esteem and also helped him become more involved in activities.
In addition to volunteer activities, Mr. Turner sponsors a dorm of 10 residents. He brings in movies and endless snacks for the dorm members to enjoy. He also provides treats for all 49 Spofford residents during the holidays.
Mr. Turner, Penny, Archie and Moritz also make regular visits to Good Samaritan Home, which is a residential care facility for seniors. Good Samaritan residents include many Alzheimer’s patients. “Seeing the seniors, especially the Alzheimer’s patients, respond to the dogs is particularly gratifying,” said Mr. Turner.
Archie and Moritz are registered by Delta Society (www.deltasociety.org) and the Turners are members of Mo-Kan Pet Partners (www.mo-kanpetpartners.org).
Mr. Turner is driven by service not only to Spofford Home and Good Samaritan but also to his employer, First National Bank. The same dedication he shows to Spofford Home and Good Samaritan carries over to his work as a network engineer at the bank. He volunteers to take the early morning Help Desk pages and calls from opening tellers as early as 6:30 a.m. He is also ready and willing to be on call around the clock if there are questions or issues about the bank’s computer network. “The First National family is so supportive of our efforts. They are the best,” said Mr. Turner.