Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Local Nonprofit Spotlight, where we highlight and introduce a local nonprofit’s inception and mission. First we’d like to extend heartfelt gratitude to our Local Nonprofit Spotlight Sponsor, the lovely, bright and colorful Katie Ford, founder of Flowers By Katie. Flowers by Katie Ford was started after Katie experienced a debilitating mental illness. She found peace working with flowers during her darkest days. Now Katie and her team create floral designs for wedding, events, and workshops hoping it brings joy to each occasion.
This month we are spotlighting Paws for Patrick, a brand new local nonprofit dedicated to connecting young people with emotional support animals to aid them as they live with mental illness. We had the honor of hearing from Founder and Chair of Paws for Patrick about her personal ties to the nonprofit, the inception just one year ago, and how the life-saving mission is impacting the lives of so many families across the country!
Save the date! Paws for Patrick will be celebrating their one-year anniversary at their inaugural Walk for Awareness and Family Fair Saturday, September 26, 2021 at the Lake Forest Recreation Center from 10am to 2pm! Food trucks, live and local music, games, wellness resources and pups to pet is just a bit of what to expect! This event is FREE!
Hi Fronzie. Thank you for sharing your story with us and for providing comfort to those who need it most. Please introduce yourself and the nonprofit you founded, Paws for Patrick.
Hi – my name is Fronzie Heitman Roemer. I grew up in Glencoe and currently live in Lake Forest. I have 3 children, Ben (21), Patrick (forever 18), and Magdelene (16). I am the Founder and Chair of Paws for Patrick.
Paws for Patrick was created shortly after my son Patrick died in May of 2020. Patrick struggled with depression and anxiety through most of his young life, and this disease took him from his loved ones at the young age of 18.
In June of 2020 my family and I held a large zoom informational meeting to gage people’s interest in a creating a resource that would provide emotional support animals for those in need. In August of 2020, Paws for Patrick was officially established and recognized as a 501c3 organization.
What is the mission and vision of Paws for Patrick?
Our mission is to connect young people with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) and Therapy Dogs to aid them as they live with mental illness. We do this through two ways:
- We guide our clients through the process of obtaining an ESA certification letter by connecting them to licensed clinical therapists: We assist them in locating, adopting and paying for an ESA; We facilitate and fund the proper training in whatever setting works best for our clients.
- We also have a team of trained therapy dogs and handlers who are available for group and individual interactions in settings such as schools, youth organizations, therapy sessions and more.
We also seek to raise awareness of mental illness and break the stigma that still exists.
Who are the recipients of an emotional support animal through Paws for Patrick?
We serve young people that are living with mental illness and mental health issues. While currently most of our ESA recipients are in the Chicagoland area, we also have recipients living throughout the nation including Texas, California, South Carolina, Montana, just to name a few.
You mentioned that the memory of your son, Patrick, was the impetus for starting Paws for Patrick. Can you tell us more about that?
Paws for Patrick came to life because we wanted to honor our late son, Patrick, who lived with depression and anxiety for several years and died from his illness in May, 2020. Patrick always had a special connection to his beloved dog, Cici, and truly found comfort and light with her by his side, even – and especially – during his darkest days. Paws for Patrick is dedicated to connecting young people to emotional support animals (ESAs) and therapy dogs to aid them as they live with mental health illness so that others may feel comfort like Patrick did from his beloved animals.
There is so much beauty in this mission. What is most rewarding about Paws for Patrick so far?
Hands down, the most rewarding aspect of Paws for Patrick for me is when I get to witness a young person smiling on their “gotcha” day of their new ESA, or hear exclamations like, “Now I have hope,” or “my day is better now.” I know we are making a difference and I get goosebumps every time I hear about another young person that has been helped. I feel Patrick smiling down whenever someone gets his/her/their ESA or is able to spend time with one of our therapy dogs. I know he is happy others are able to feel some of the relief that he felt when he was with an animal.
What’s next for Paws for Patrick? Tell us more about the upcoming Walk for Awareness and Family Fair on Sunday, September 26th.
Yes! We are excited to be doing more in-person events with our therapy dogs at outdoor events. This summer we attended summer camps and various programs, and are looking forward to being in more schools this fall.
We are excited to be hosting our first annual Walk for Awareness and Family Fair on Sunday, September 26 as a celebration of our one year anniversary. We will have games run by our Junior Board and committee, live bands, food trucks, mental health resources and dog trainers and a shelter with animals at the event. In addition, our therapy dogs will be there to greet people.
Our initial goal was to be a nationally recognized organization within 5 years – helping young people all over the nation and breaking the mental illness stigma. That goal has quickly bumped up to the nearer future.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for the formation and success of Paws for Patrick?
We would like to thank the North Shore community and surrounding areas which have been extremely supportive of our mission. They have opened up their hearts with their time, talent and treasures.
In addition, we have a solid, strong, incredibly hard-working board made up of both professionals, parents, and juniors, that spend tireless hours working on our mission. This includes many North Shore moms, such as Julie Conway (Deerfield), Leslie Crawford (Lake Forest), Erika Kreisa (Winnetka), Molly Sarver, (Lake Forest), Julie Shaw (Northbrook), Shelby Silvernail (Lake Forest), and Nikki Smith (Glencoe). Paws for Patrick would not be where it is at this one year mark without each of their services as well as the other Board members.
This is so wonderful, and we know they’ll appreciate the shoutout! Generally speaking, what is the best way our readers can learn more about using your services?
Current information can be found on our Instagram feed, @pawsforpatrick, and our Facebook page, @pawsforpatrick.org. These pages are very active and we post about our services often. For a more in depth understanding of our services, our website is a great place to gather more information.
Therapy dog, Hudson
Last but not least, how do our readers contribute or volunteer their time?
Readers can contribute by visiting our website, www.pawsforpatrick.org, to either submit a form for volunteering or to make a donation. Every little bit helps, every hour helps! Thank you!