Riley’s Place Brings “Puppy Love” to Shelter Network Children
Cheeto (center) with his speech
Inspired by the comforting power of animals, Riley’s Place provides a special space for children in need. The organization provides opportunities for children facing life threatening illness, disabilities, or homelessness to spend time with gentle therapy animals. Riley’s Place is a valuable partner of Shelter Network, giving children and their families a much-deserved break to play with animals, as well as build self-esteem, foster resiliency, and promote a sense of control.
Last week, a young boy living at Shelter Network, Cheeto (Eliceo Candejas), spoke at the Riley’s Place fundraiser about how the partnership with Shelter Network had a profound impact on his experience at Shelter Network’s transitional housing site, Haven Family House. Here is his speech that brought down the house:
Hi, my name is Cheeto. Thank you so much for letting Riley’s Place visit me at Haven Family House. The first time Riley’s Place came, I felt happy and excited. I only had one pet dog in my lifetime, so when I met the animals I felt good because of what they did and they seemed excited to see me. I think the animals made the kids feel special and happy.
We get to see the animals once a month. The only animals we normally see at Haven are bluebirds and squirrels. When the animals leave the kids feel lonely. My favorite animal was Sara the therapy dog. I liked her because she gets to have fun, we get to feed her, and brush her hair.
The first time I felt Robin the bunny’s hair, it felt like a pillow. I remember the miniature horses, Henry and Kapono. I liked looking at the site because I loved the horses, and I liked how they helped the horses that got hurt in accidents.
The animals make me feel excited and happy. I think that is how the other kids at Haven feel too. I felt sad when I had to leave Haven because I had lots of friends. Animals help people’s sadness and make them feel good. Thank you, Riley’s Place, for helping me and the kids at Haven.