Recently, LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Lois (First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church & School – Las Vegas, Nevada) and her handler visited Peter Schlesinger, who greatly misses each of the seven Golden Retrievers he had throughout his adult life.
Peter has had a very full and adventurous eighty-seven years, winning nearly twenty Emmy Awards during his television career. He essentially created Live From the Hollywood Bowl and the national broadcast popularity of The Los Angeles Marathon.
Peter and his wife enjoyed time spent with Lois Comfort Dog, who traveled over 4 hours from Las Vegas to their home in California for a very special comforting moment.
Lois Comfort Dog’s Bible verse is Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.” Lois and her handler shared an abundance of that with Peter and his wife.
In the midst of senseless killings, anger, and hatred
LCC responds to bring Love – Compassion – Mercy and the Presence of Jesus
Tim Hetzner and teams from Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois departed on Friday to be there for the hurting communities. LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Naomi (Holy Cross – Indianapolis) was joined by Nancy Borders (Trinity – Toledo, Ohio) and LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Benjamin (LCC Staff), Emma (LCC Staff), Hannah (LCC Staff), Isaiah (Trinity – Hobart, Indiana), Jared (Holy Cross – Fort Wayne, Indiana), Mercy (Our Savior – Louisville, Kentucky), and Rosie (Atonement – Columbus, Ohio), along with their handlers, to spend time visiting with friends and family members as they process the shock and grief of their loss. The K-9 Comfort Dog teams also visited the overworked and dedicated employees at the Marion County Coroner’s Office who needed time to decompress and feel the comfort and appreciation of the K-9 handlers and the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs.
Other visits the teams had were with the firefighters from Plainfield Fire Station 121 and Beech Grove Fire Station 57, and they will continue to visit the other fire stations throughout the week. The firefighters were all smiles at seeing K-9 Comfort Dogs Emma, Hannah, Isaiah, Mercy, and Naomi.
The K-9 Comfort Dog teams attended two vigils held by the community for the victims. On Friday night, the Comfort Dogs and their handlers were at Krannert Park, where community members gathered to support the families whose loved ones died during the shooting. It was at this vigil that the Hearts of Mercy and Compassion markers were first brought out for the community to sign, one marker for each of the eight victims. The teams were there with prayer, mercy, compassion and the presence of Jesus Christ for this hurting community.
Helping Individuals Cope with Uncertainty
The K-9 Comfort Dog teams met Lillian, who was recently hired by FedEx and was supposed to start work on April 15 but didn’t go into work that day. She shared her concern about all the evil in this world with the team member and found it hard to stay positive. The handlers prayed with her for God’s comfort and peace.
DJ was struggling with so much anger and hurt over the shooting. He attended both of the vigils and spent a lot of time with the K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers as they surrounded him in prayer.
The Sunday night vigil was hosted by the City of Beech Grove and the Mayor’s Faith-Based Roundtable. Mayor Dennis Buckley of Beech Grove knew one of the victims, 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell. The loss of Samaria was difficult on the Beech Grove community as they knew her and her family well. The vigil was attended by 150 or more people from all different backgrounds: Christians, non-Christians, Sikhs, and Mennonites gathered in unity.
Attendees lined up to sign each of the eight Hearts of Mercy and Compassion markers for the victims to express their grief and share their support. The K-9 Comfort Dogs were there to bring comfort and unconditional love, and the handlers listened and prayed with the community members. There were no walls of hatred but instead unity, healing, and love. People of all backgrounds listened to one another and shared their grief, and most importantly, they shared hope of what could be. Each person left the vigil that night with hope and the beginning process of healing.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams will continue to visit with the hospital staff, 911 dispatchers, and the community this week to bring the Mercy, Compassion, Presence, and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need.
CLICK HERE to view how our two LCC Ministries work together to bring comfort and healing to the community during this difficult time.
LCC's K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry and Hearts of Mercy & Compassion Ministry never go where we are not invited and never charge those we serve as we bring the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need. We know that comfort is needed to help this shocked and devastated community and the first responders who serve them.
Please join LCC in keeping the families, first responders, and the community in your prayers as they move through these extremely trying times.
Tim Hetzner & LCC K-9 Ministry Teams Visit Students & Staff at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Early Sunday morning, April 18, three people were killed, and three were injured during a shooting at The Somers House in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At the invitation of Rev. Kara Baylor of Carthage College, Tim Hetzner, LCC President/CEO, and the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are present with students and staff on Tuesday, April 20, and Wednesday, April 21, during finals week. Carthage College is located near The Somers House and frequented by students, some of whom were present during the shooting.
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Charity (Brookfield Lutheran – Brookfield, Wisconsin), Malachi (St. Matthew – Hawthorn Woods, Illinois), Mary (St. Paul’s – Janesville, Wisconsin), Rhoda (Prince of Peace – Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin), Tobias (Lord of Glory – Grayslake, Illinois), and their ministry teams spent time comforting students and staff during this stressful week.
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and Their Teams Participate in Annual Virtual Run for Respect for Pontiac Township High School, Illinois
Fifty-six LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their teams from twenty-two states participated in the 9th Annual Virtual Run for Respect for Pontiac Township High School (Illinois) Peers in Action from their home communities the weekend of April 17-18.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams from all across the country enjoyed walking together to support our friends of the Life Skills class at Pontiac Township High School.
Laura Baumgardner, teacher of the Life Skills class at Pontiac Township High School and Director of the 5K Run for Respect, shared this with us:
“I have been pretty overwhelmed with emotion all weekend. All of the LCC teams have gone above and beyond. I just wanted you to know what a difference the Comfort Dogs are making in my students' lives. The outpouring of pictures, emails, and messages has been nothing short of amazing! We are learning so much, and we love how our message of Respect has been shared with so many!
It was much fun for the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams to walk the 5K Run for Respect. The teams shared laughter, companionship, and the joy of walking with God as they completed their trek.
We are very grateful to Laura Baumgardner for inviting LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their teams to be part of this event. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry teams have enjoyed meeting the Life Skills students through their Zoom visits and sharing the places the Comfort Dogs live and visit with the class.
LCC never goes where we are not invited. The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry NEVER charges those we serve.
LCC Opens New K-9 Comfort Dog Training Center at St. Matthew, Barrington, Illinois, and Welcomes Five New Puppies
"So God made the wild animals, the tame animals, and all the small crawling animals to produce more of their own kind. God saw that this was good." Genesis 1:25
LCC is pleased to welcome our new class of apprentice trainers:
Lutheran Church Charities is blessed to welcome five new golden retriever puppies to be trained as future LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs at our newest training center in Barrington, Illinois. Brothers and littermates Phinehas, Michael, and Daniel. Sisters and littermates Faith and Grace.
Lutheran Church Charities is always recruiting new volunteers to help train these amazing animals. We will have more puppies arriving soon and need more volunteers to nurture and train them. If you are interested in joining us on this mission, please contact LCC at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or visit our website.
LCC Disaster Response Chainsaw Teams Bring Hope to Homeowners in Alabama During Tornado Recovery Assistance
On Thursday, March 25, the National Weather Service reported eleven tornadoes with EF ratings ranging from EF-1 to EF- 4, ripped through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, causing seven deaths, multiple injuries, and widespread structural and tree damage.
Over the past two weeks, Kathy O'Day, LCC Director of Disaster Response responded with Pastor Ed Brashier, Southern District Disaster Response Coordinator, and the following team of thirty-one Lutheran Early Response Team (L.E.R.T.) draggers, and chainsaw and heavy equipment operators from Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and Wisconsin.
Good Shepherd – Frankfort: Joel Powless
Heartland – Normal: Tony Buchberger
Immanuel – Belvidere: Mike Buhl, Mark Gutzler, Wes Johnson, Carl Jurgens, Mike Perry
Immanuel – DeKalb: Pete and Christel Springmire
Lord of Life – LaFox: Chris Lewis, Jeff Straughn, Larry Zagorski
Messiah – Sterling: Jacob Beets
Prince of Peace – Palatine: Jim Beckley, Dan and Bobbie Swyndroski
Shepherd of the Hills – McHenry: Alan Holm
St. John – Wheaton: Marty Johnson, Anna Piro, David Schlesselman, Rich Wren
St. John – Wilmette: Tom Morrison
St. Paul – Matteson: Dennis Pieper
Trinity – Lisle: Ed Boerman
Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Wisconsin
First Lutheran – Paola, Kansas: Brian Mead
Good Shepherd – Gardendale, Alabama: Gary Decker, Rich Dender, Rusty Spiegle
St. John – Dillsboro, Indiana: Ruth Weisbrod
St. Paul – Grafton, Wisconsin: Mark and Beverly Brueggeman
Lutheran Church Charities Disaster Response L.E.R.T. teams completed chainsaw work at seventeen homeowner sites while serving through Trinity Lutheran Church in Gadsen, Alabama, in Ohatchee Wellington, Jacksonville, and Piedmont. Almost all of these sites took 2-4 days to complete due to the size of the property and trees, amount of destruction, and complexity of work completed.
Blessing an Army Veteran
One of the homeowners was a 20 year Army veteran who sheltered in his home with his mom and daughter who were visiting as the tornado destroyed all of their vehicles, workshop, shed, and took down hundreds of trees on his 10 acres of rural property. He was very grateful for the help in clearing trees with all of the heavy equipment and chainsaw operators to access his road and property fully. He worked alongside the team and told us what a blessing we were to him.
Donny and his family all lived in separate homes on the same property. Two of their homes lost their roofs, and one of the homes was destroyed when two large oak trees landed on it. We were able to remove the oak trees to access the home and salvage what they could. They couldn’t believe that we would offer to help them and return for three days to complete the work. They stated that they felt we restored their faith and hope for their future as they move forward in recovering from this disaster.
Joel Powless, one of the LCC L.E.R.T. chainsaw team leaders, cuts beautiful crosses in the homeowner’s tree stump to remind them that Christ is present in the midst of this disaster and recovery. Joel states that when he is cutting the cross, his arms will begin to burn as it is difficult and heavy to hold the chainsaw high and cut against the grain of the tree to make the cross. He is reminded that Christ’s arms were hurting as He hung on the cross for our sins – and that thought carries him through as he completes the cross for the homeowners who appreciate the significance the cross represents.
LCC Thank You
Lutheran Church Charities extends sincere thanks to John Strid, Regional President of Brasfield & Gorrie General Contractors, for delivering and loaning us a compact track loader after our bobcat broke down to use for the week at no cost. Without this, we would not have been able to complete all of the work on the sites we had scheduled.
We also extend a heartfelt thanks to John and Kathy Henner from Bakers Buddy in DeKalb, Illinois, for the generous donation of food items, bread, and desserts for our cooks to prepare and serve our volunteers for the week. It was very much appreciated and enjoyed by all.
Please donate to the LCC Disaster Response General Fund or LCC Equipment Maintenance & Fuel Expense Fund so that we may continue to show the Mercy, Compassion, Presence, and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need.
On Wednesday, April 14, the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Squad met for fellowship and ministry planning. During this time of COVID, the original LCC Kare 9 Squad Dogs, Blitz, Brandy, Britta, Brutus, Butch, Flex, and Spike, have not been able to serve at the numerous events they did in the past. The Veteran Handlers also missed the opportunity to be with one another. Kare 9 Nigel joined the group. The handlers discussed how to serve in the Ministry as we live with the restrictions of the pandemic. Many good ideas were suggested.
As the teams prepared to leave, Kare 9 Britta and her veteran handler were approached by John, another patron of the restaurant, who had some questions. As the Ministry was explained and the Gospel was shared, John was presented with a “card” from each Kare 9. John wrote the following in an email to Kare 9 Britta's veteran handler:
"I met you at a restaurant in Rockford yesterday, April 15, along with many of your "Squad" members. Thank you for the work you do in furthering Our Lord's kingdom, in particular for ministering to our veterans by sharing the Gospel with them. I have made a small donation to your squad effort. God Bless you and the Squad members that work with you - not forgetting the beautiful Goldens.”