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Our Mission

To touch people’s lives in a positive way and to provide a sense of well-being to those we meet.

Inspired by our specially trained animal assisted therapy teams, we strive to ease sadness and spread joy, laughter, comfort and warmth.

Our Mission

Our Story

Pets & People offers pet-assisted therapy visits to people who could use some healing joy in their days. Our carefully tested and certified therapy teams can be found at nursing homes, assisted living homes, special needs facilities, schools, libraries and hospitals

and many other places. 
Pets & People Foundation was the “heartchild” of the late Stanley Wald, of Newton. Stanley believed deeply in “People Therapy through Pets.” Once he got the ball rolling in 1985, Sally Jean Alexander took the baton and mobilized a volunteer force to bring to others the kind of joy that a sweet, calm pet can engender. Her efforts in this regard are honored to this day. Pets & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer organization. Our members share a belief that a visit with a four-footed friend can make a difference in the lives of those we serve. Pets & People therapy teams work mainly in eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and southern New Hampshire.


Our Volunteers

Long coat or short coat, tiny or large, bow-wow or meow and everything in between, our volunteers are friendly, calm, and well-behaved. As for our human volunteers, they come from many professions and backgrounds, the commonality being their bonds with their pets and their willingness to share. Pets and humans alike train rigorously and test to ensure they work well as a team and are able to conduct visits in a manner that promotes the comfort and safety of those they visit.


Board Members

The members of our Board of Directors bring to their roles a wide variety of professional skills in addition to their deep commitment to our mission. Each member takes an active role in managing the business of Pets & People, including web site management, secure document storage, financial analyses and accounting of funds, legal help, content writing for printed and website marketing materials, database development, coordination of member functions, and fundraising. Most board members also volunteer with their pets. ​

Jo-Edith Heffron 

 A Pets & People volunteer since 1991 and board member since 2006, past president and currently treasurer, Jo-Edith has been instrumental in the growth and development of the Foundation.  Together with her trio of papillons, Taco, Annie, and Piper, Jo-Edith visits several geriatric facilities to provide comfort and cheer. “Giving and showing care and compassion is what Pets & People is about for me.  People and staff light up when they see the pups. I really think that the pups know they have purpose”.  A truly dedicated volunteer, Jo-Edith has also served on the board of several community based organization.  Professionally, Jo-Edith is CFO of ELI Computer Group, Inc. 

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Eva Jack

Eva joined our board in 2021 and brings her love of pets and experience working with pet therapy organizations in DC and CA to our board. She lives in Boston with her golden retriever, Kibo, and has built her career in the biotechnology industry where she manages business operations for growing companies. Having witnessed first-hand the impact of therapy dog visits, Eva expanded her volunteer interests and became a puppy raiser for Canine Companions, a nonprofit that provides professionally trained service dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities free of charge.

Dan Kielar

Dan joined Pets & People in early 2020 with his handsome golden retriever, Lewis. Dan became president of Pets & People in August 2020. Dan and his family reside in Concord, MA. Dan has been involved in a number of early-stage technology companies, helping to manage their growth, and now advises companies on their growth strategies. With three children actively involved in youth sports, Dan has helped coach baseball, softball, soccer, and football teams. In his spare time, Dan enjoys hiking with Lewis and Pepe (an Italian greyhound/Chihuahua mix), fly fishing, and road biking. 

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Christine Macdonald 

Christine is the evaluator for Pets & People, having joined in 2002. She conducts a rigorous training protocol and is responsible for certifying all Pets & People therapy teams. “Being a good therapy dog is unrelated to pedigree. It’s about temperament, discipline and training with the animal and handler. It truly is a team effort. You need to know that, wherever the place, whether a noisy or serene environment, that the team is solid.” Christine still finds time for volunteer therapy visits to hospitals, memory care units, behavioral health programs and de-stress events with her two Standard Poodles Mercedes Ann and Alberta Rose.  Christine has served on the board since 2006.  She is a past secretary and Director of Volunteers.

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Candy Mandel

A psychotherapist by training and practice, Candy was drawn to dog therapy as a way to bring together two passions in her life: dogs and helping others in a therapeutic role. "What more could anyone ask for than seeing an elderly resident beaming from ear to ear as Lily enters her apartment? Or hearing a child say, 'I'm so glad I'm a human because that way I get to pet Eddie.’" Candy is certified with Eddie, a goofy, fun-loving golden doodle and just recently retired her sweet and gentle Lily, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Candy joined Pets & People in 2014, and joined the board in 2016 where she has served as both secretary and president. In addition to her therapeutic experience, Candy holds an MBA, with specialty in health service administration. Thus, she brings us a depth of business and social services experience. She also served as executive director of two non-profits and, as an entrepreneur, developed and managed a company that provided qualitative market research consulting to major pharmaceutical and life science corporations. 

Martha McCown 

When Martha joined Pets & People in 2011, she quickly answered a call for help with the info line and then joined the board in 2012. She is past secretary to the board and currently serves as Director of Volunteers. One of her proudest accomplishments for Pets & People is recruiting and working with her husband Bob to develop a relational database to track volunteer teams and facilities. With degrees in nutrition and biochemistry and an MBA, Martha has designed programs in nutrition for the elderly and also Head Start initiatives for children. She loves visiting both old and young with her sweet beagle basset Greta, her cocky little Scottish Terrier Bridget and her 15-pound, self-assured tabby cat Daniel and cannot think of a more rewarding way to volunteer her time. She loves that she gets to hear a veteran in rehab say of Daniel “when you bring him, you bring a little piece of home” or a child struggling in school admit “when Greta comes, it turns my day around”.

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Joel Wolff, PhD

Joel joined Pets & People in 2005 having done pet therapy work with another organization since 1995. Joel joined the board in 2007 and served as president from 2010 to 2018 and is currently Vice President. Joel has been instrumental in organizing Pets & People’s involvement in the annual Christmas in the City Event. As with many volunteers, Pets & People is a family affair for Joel; he and his wife, Penny, and their coterie of retrievers are active in therapy work at libraries and de-stress events as well as dog obedience, rally, field, and dog rescue. Professionally, Joel works in computer and infrastructure support and general tech support for the board.


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Holly Kimball

An attorney and mom of twin boys, Holly joined Pets & People in 2018 with Laddie, her loving collie; together they are a big hit at nursing homes and wellness events. Holly is currently a fellow at Boston University School of Theology. Holly has a long history of volunteerism, having relocated to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to help with disaster relief, and worked as a case coordinator and facilitator for Concord-based Communities for Restorative Justice. Holly is a past president of Pets & People and she continues to serve the organization as a Special Advisor to the board.

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