The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs program is going strong at South Fork Forest Camp
Last year, South Fork Forest Camp (SFFC) partnered with the Joys of Living Assistance Dogs (JLAD), a non-profit organization dedicated to training and raising service dogs to support and assist persons living with disabilities. The adults in custody (AICs) train them, and then the dogs are placed with individuals that need them. Below are testimonials from AICs talking about how the program has impacted their lives.
“What I enjoy most about being in the JLAD program is giving back to disabled veterans. My father is a Vietnam veteran so doing this to help someone that’s in the same shoes as my father brings joy to my heart. Maybe someday I will gain enough experience to train a service dog for him. I have done so much taking during my life, I truly believe that doing this, giving back is how my journey begins at paying my karmic debt back and bringing balance and peace to my once chaotic and disastrous life.”Joseph Allen
“What does the JLAD program mean to me. To me it means I can give back to the community and help atone for my misdeeds. I hope all these dogs here will graduate so they can help someone in need. The program has helped me grow as a human being. It has also made me face my flaws, help me grow and mature.“Jack Marvin III
“I’ve been a part of the JLAD team now since January and already it’s improved my time along with relationships between myself and staff, as well as other inmates.
To be a part of something that can so profoundly change a person’s life like those of the recipients of the service dogs we are training has impacted my life and given me a since of worth and accomplishment.
I’m grateful to my fellow team members and everyone who’s a part of the JLAD program. I’m also grateful to SFFC and that the camp is so welcoming to this opportunity. It feels good to give back to society in such a positive way.”Sam Meyers
“I am honored and grateful to be a part of the JLAD team at SFFC. I want to thank Joy St. Peter for this amazing opportunity to be a part of a life changing experience.
It feels good to be able to give back to people in need and change their lives for the better. During my time in the program, I have learned a lot about myself, it has enabled me to make changes for the better and I am humbled by this experience. It has been amazing working with these dogs from pups to where they are and see all hard work pay off. Its amazing how smart these animals are and how loving and affectionate they are. We all look forward to the pups Suzy will be bringing and the experience of caring for them.”Chet Schisler
“The JLAD program has helped me to grow as a better person by giving me the opportunity to look outside of myself and my own needs and see the needs of others. It has also given me the skills needed to train up a puppy into a full-service dog to improve the quality of life for others in need. Raising, caring for and training a puppy also taught me the life skills needed to better care for the loved ones in my own life by giving me full responsibility for the care and needs of a puppy under my care. Life changes when you look through the eyes of a puppy.”Ronald Shelby
“To become successful in this program, we must be clean, organized, responsible, respectful, understanding, kind and patient. We must be detailed focused and forward thinking, continuously exercising complex problem-solving skills. We must be on time, honest and accountable, always practicing self-control. We must adhere to strict rules and uphold high standards. They say what we are doing for others through this program is selfless service, what I’m saying is that this program is truly serving us. For us to become successful in this life as well, we must be all these things. When I declared to God that I was better to be a better man, this program was among his great answers.”John Cuha
“The SFFC JLAD program has been a wonderful and transformative experience so far. I have learned so much about these animals through our training and in turn learned things about myself that I otherwise would not have. It is amazing to see the impact this program has had on the institution, AIC’s and staff included. The dogs bring out a level of caring, compassion, empathy and patience that cannot be found anywhere else in the prison system. This is truly refreshing to see. I am very proud to be a part of this knowing these dogs will change people’s lives and to be able to work with such a great group of guys. A special thanks tom all who made this possible Nathan Olney, Mr. & Mrs. Alexander, IWP Powell, Lt. Hinkle, Mrs. St. Peter and her team.”Nick Schmit
“I am super blessed to have the opportunity to be in a program like this. Doing something positive and productive like helping people in need is very fulfilling. There really aren’t very many programs like this that through working with these dogs and focusing on behaviors that your forced to face yourself and see that we all have not so good behaviors that can be changed. It just takes work. So, A big thanks to everyone who has made this program possible. Without you guys we wouldn’t be able tom help these people in need. Thank you to Joy St. Peter for changing so many lives for the better. We are all very grateful.”Nathan Olney
“We are seven months into introducing the JLAD program here at SFFC. Our camp has become home to 8 wonderful and talented dogs. Each and every day they continue to train and prosper more and more. The major support we receive from so many staff members helps make this program possible. Big shout out to Joy St. Peter, Mrs. Anna Caldwell, C/O’s B. Alexander, L. Alexander, IWP Powell, Lt. Hinkle, Glover, Holcomb Quinn, Fields, Lt. Volker, Lt. Russ, VanPatten, ODF director Auble, and everyone else who helps daily to make this program function. Pioneering this program was rough to begin with. So many different policies and procedures had to be implemented and changed to adhere to all the dog’s full satisfaction in the service field. With so much done already, we still have a lot to do to make this program run smoothly as possible. SFFC will be raising their first litter of puppies on top of training individual service dogs. So needless to say, we all very busy here and couldn’t be happier.
Updates in prison are rarely good, this whole experience is dark and sad. I’m so happy to say that is no longer the case here at SFFC. I remember how exciting this whole program was in the beginning, and now were seven months in and it has only gotten better! After all my years locked up, I have never seen a program bring people together for literally the greater good like JLAD. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my time. Each and every day watching and learning from our teachers and our facilitator, seeing every single day the capabilities and admiration of these beautiful animals is more than impressive. When we first talked about getting this program started a good friend of mine said to me, “throughout this program you will learn more about yourself than ever before”. He was completely right! I am a part of JLAD, a program that changes people’s lives forever!! That is really something my children can really be proud to say their daddy is a part of. Ultimately, I am an inmate incarcerated at SFFC and I love what I do! Thanks again for the opportunity.”Robert Stanley