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December 2019 What’s Happening in Washington County

Recently O.U.R. House Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) welcomed a visit from Fred, a 200-pound (plus!) Mastiff and his owner Brian Carten, who are members of the organization Therapy Dogs of Vermont. Therapy Dogs of Vermont is a fellow non-profit organization providing four-legged volunteers to help improve the emotional well-being of people going through stressful situations.

Therapy Dogs of Vermont will travel to a wide variety of places such as schools, nursing homes, hospitals, retirement communities and correctional facilities all over the state to bring comfort to those going through a difficult time. Reports show that Animal Assisted Therapy can help many different psychological issues like depression and anxiety while also providing comfort and companionship. Research on the use of therapy dogs has suggested that when people interact with a therapy animal, it can increase dopamine and oxytocin while lowering cortisol levels in the brain. Fred is now on call for O.U.R. House should they have a family coming who might want or need some extra support during their visit. The entire staff is very excited to have the opportunity to see Fred again. Ziggy, the on-site therapy bunny for staff, is still helping with the stress of the daily grind and is always available for anyone who wants to pet him.

According to Executive Director Rebecca Duranleau, offering therapy to their clients has always been a priority but it’s been a challenge for years. She is happy to announce O.U.R. House has partnered with two amazing therapists, Ron Zambetti and Kym Rowell.

Ron Zambetti MFA, MA has an office right next door to O.U.R. House. Ron has over 20 years of experience, and his approaches include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Somatic Processing, Jungian Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, EMDR and NLP. To accommodate the needs of his clients, he has often used the CAC and is a familiar face around the office.

Kym Rowell, BS, CMT is available to see clients right at O.U.R. House. Her treatment approaches vary based on the needs of her clients. She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral, Somatic and Mindfulness-Based therapy.

Some clients that come through the CAC may not need the therapy options offered, but many do. Most of the cases that come to O.U.R. House don’t receive media attention, but some do. Two recent incidents really had an impact on the community, getting to the heart of MDT members and testing the skills of the trauma-informed team at O.U.R. House. These investigations are still on-going.

In the case of Roland Withers/Robin Benedict, among other things, repeated sexual abuse charges were filed. In the case against Paul Richards, who was charged with producing child pornography, MDT members worked with the FBI and Montpelier PD along with other Departments.

In both situations, the children involved spent a great deal of time at O.U.R. House with DCF and Law Enforcement Detectives. They also got to spend extra time with Ziggy, who was more than happy to help in his duties as official O.U.R. House therapy bunny.

Counting the above, as of November 30, 2019 O.U.R. House served: • 70 cases of child sexual abuse, 4 of which were for child porn • 8 serious physical abuse cases where a child was the victim • 1 interview for trafficking of a youth • 27 cases of sexual assault where the victim was over the age of 18 • Easter Seals uses O.U.R. House space for supervised visits/family time and so far, they have used O.U.R. House 145 times

And finally, after about 3 years of work, Central Vermont Medical Center has a PEDI-Sane unit and PEDI-Sane trained nurses. What does this mean? When a child needs an exam due to suspected sexual abuse, they will no longer need to go to Burlington. This is huge for the community, and O.U.R. House is grateful for all the work their partners put in to help make this happen.

So many great things happening in Washington County. Keep up the great work!


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