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Pet Therapy Program

December 22, 2020

Youth Consultation Service in Hackensack, an over-century-old nonprofit that provides behavioral health services to New Jersey families who have children with special needs, was one of 14 recipients who received a portion of a $1.5 million donation from PSE&G and the PSE&G Foundation.

The donation was a surprise to assist families who have struggled through the Covid-19 pandemic with issues such as food insecurity, unemployment, mental and physical health, and poverty, in addition to support for ongoing issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse and child neglect.

Other recipients included Eva’s Village in Paterson, Mental Health Association of Morris and Essex in Montclair, Newark Working Kitchens in Newark, and HomeFront in Ewing, whose mission is to end homelessness in central New Jersey, among others.

To date, PSE&G and the PSE&G Foundation have committed $5 million in foundation and corporate giving initiatives since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In April, committed $2.5 million to pandemic relief organizations and $1 million to a Powering Equity and Social Justice Initiative in June.

“It is our privilege to be able to support community organizations that are providing much-needed assistance to countless families and communities who are facing enormous hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rick Thigpen, PSEG’s senior vice president for Corporate Citizenship and chairman of the PSEG Foundation. “In the spirit of the season, we’re proud to make these Community Gifts on behalf of our employees across New Jersey and New York, and support these organizations that are helping to make things better for people throughout the many diverse communities we serve.”

Youth Consultation Service, Inc. in Hackensack will use its $50,000 reward toward their pet therapy program, which helps children recover from trauma, depression, or other behavioral health challenges to children and young adults in 35 YCS therapeutic group homes across the state.

YCS Chief Executive Officer Tara Augustine said throughout #Giving Tuesday, the nonprofit has been raising funds during December to go towards the provision of weekly visits of a therapy dog at every home — a goal that will be reached with their donation.

“YCS is so grateful for this unexpected grant from PSEG,” said Augustine in a press release. “During this pandemic, the children have often been sheltered in place in order to keep them safe. Family visits have been very limited and so have hugs. When children engage with a pet, they become more relaxed and are better able to self regulate — feelings of isolation and loneliness dissipate as they experience the unconditional love, acceptance and affection of a therapy pet. This is especially true for children who YCS cares for who are affected by autism. Therapy dogs play a crucial role in helping children develop communication and social skills. The soothing affects of a therapy pet reduces stress and anxiety during therapy sessions, and in general, creates a more relaxed environment in the homes.”

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