Midlands dog steals Community Builder spotlight

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - While most Community Builder nominees are of the human kind, one four-legged friend has stolen this week's spotlight and is this week's honoree.

Twice a week, 7 year-old "Max" and his owner, Angella Eanes, have a routine.

"He will meet me at the front door, 'It's work day, mom,'" Angella said. "If we have afternoon appointments instead of morning appointments he will wait there all day."

All four paws, just waiting for the chance to do what Max does best.

"Max is a Great Pyrenees, and he is one of the two animal assisted Therapy Dogs for Sexual Trauma Services," Angella said.

When Max first gets to work, he always makes his rounds.

"It's not just a joy for our clients, it's a joy for our staff to have big ol' Max come in and love on us and take care of all of us," Mary Dell Hayes, development coordinator at Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, said.

But then it's down to business. Max and Angella volunteer their time to serve a vital role in client therapy sessions at STSM.

"There's a lot of neat research out there about the healing power of animals. Animals help to reduce stress in the brain, they help clients to relax to process," Hayes said. "Max is a really key part of helping clients restore their brain chemistry and get back to that normal interaction and stability."

Those who work at the STSM say Max has made a huge difference in the lives of numerous victims of sexual assault. That's why they nominated Max and his mom as a Community Builder, and WIS and Mungo Homes got to surprise them with the news that they were this week's honoree.

"It's kind of hard to surprise a 130 pound dog," Mary Mungo said as she gave Max and Angella their hard hat before a roomful of STSM employees.

Whether or not Max looked surprised, the hard-working furry friend showed his thanks by shaking "paws" with Mungo.

As a Community Builder, the Michael J. Mungo Foundation is donating $1,000 to the Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands in honor of Max and Angella.

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