Everyone at Judson who knows Jane loves Molly. They love Jane too, of course, but Molly is the star. Molly is Jane’s Labrador Retriever who has been specially trained as a therapy dog and visits Judson once or twice a week with Jane while she volunteers. Molly is especially loved on Reinberger Court, Judson’s memory care neighborhood at Judson Park. Residents of Reinberger Court light up when they see Molly coming down the hall. Her visit does so much good for the spirits of those residents who love animals and, as Jane will tell you, provides Molly with plenty of attention for the day. Molly is not the only four-legged friend around Judson Park as residents are encouraged to bring their pets along with them when they move in!
It all started over ten years ago when Jane’s father moved into Judson Park. As a Cleveland Heights local, he wanted a place that felt like home and the Park was a natural fit. Jane visited her father every day and while she noticed how important those visits were for him, she also noticed that some residents did not get many visitors. On a personal level, she empathized with those who were not as fortunate as her own father to have a loved one by their side. And so, a seed was planted. It took some time to heal after her father passed away but, when she was ready, she became a volunteer. With a law background and a previous career teaching legal writing courses at Case Western Reserve University, it’s no surprise that Jane wanted to enrich the intellectual lives of those she visited and she started reading to the visually impaired.
Jane’s volunteering eventually began to include friendly visits that brought her pup, Molly, along for the adventure. Molly attended an eight week training course to help familiarize her with walkers and wheelchairs so that she could comfortably move around the resident’s spaces. She now brightens up the halls and the faces of residents wherever she goes. Residents who love animals get to reunite and engage with a furry buddy every week.
Since Jane visits so regularly she has gotten to know several of the residents and her relationships with them have deepened. As Jane says, she has met many “wise and wonderful” people that have imparted their knowledge to her. She sees value in acknowledging and respecting older members of society for their life experience, perspective and insight. She believes that it is a shame to let those gifts go unnoticed and unheard. And while it is easy to recognize Jane’s work for the value and richness that it adds to the lives of the residents, Jane describes these friendships as adding a deep value to her own life too. It is that enrichment that keeps her coming back week after week.
Jane’s dedication, compassion, empathy and special four-legged friend are why Judson has chosen to nominate her for the Greater Cleveland Volunteers Limelight Award. We are thankful for all of the years that she has shared her gift, and her adorable pup, with Judson!