Therapy Dogs, Volunteers Receive Governor’s Award for Service to Cone Health


The group received a top service award for supporting frontline workers during the pandemic.

Greensboro – The state’s top office has recognized some special volunteers for their invaluable service to Cone Health staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A group of volunteers – and their therapy dogs – from North Carolina Pet Partners have been awarded the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for work performed at Cone Health in 2021. The award honors individuals, groups and businesses across the state that have made significant contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

Members of the Cone Health Volunteer Services team nominated NC Pet Partners for the award because of the group’s extraordinary work across the health system. That work included spending 190 hours providing support and comfort to Cone Health staff in fall 2021 alone.

“It’s just made such a huge impact,” said Holly Beck, assistant director, Volunteer Services. “We’ve heard so many positive comments from staff.”

NC Pet Partners had already spent years visiting patients in Cone Health facilities prior to the pandemic. Given visitor restrictions, the visits were temporarily halted, until Volunteer Services invited NC Pet Partners back to the health system in fall 2021 – this time to focus on supporting staff members facing the challenging pandemic. Even 10 or 15 minutes with of the therapy dogs was enough to make a difficult shift more manageable.

“The past couple of years really have been more challenging than any of us could have expected,” said Preston Hammock, president, the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital. “So, the smiles, the love, the just being with each other that these dogs bring is priceless.”

Cone Health Volunteer Services Director Vivian Langley surprised NC Pet Partners with the announcement during a ceremony at the Cone Health Women’s and Children’s Center at Moses Cone Hospital on Tuesday. Volunteers say it is an honor to be recognized for work that brings them – and others – such joy.

“I had no idea the impact that our dogs had with specifically staff during the pandemic,” said Kim Johnson, NC Pet Partners liaison. “They really needed something extra, and our dogs provided that something extra to the staff. To receive this award means so much. It means we really are making a difference in the community, especially at Cone Health.”

NC Pet Partners is a Community Partner of Pet Partners, an organization aiming to promote positive human-animal interaction and improve the physical, emotional and psychological lives of the people they encounter.

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