Silent Sidekicks was officially founded in Maine during November of 2012 by Danielle Ireland with her current sidekick/ therapy dog, Morgan. Originally, upon moving back East, Danielle was interested in volunteering in an animal-assisted organization with her cat, Grocho, but found that there were no volunteer organizations in the state that provided animal-assisted therapy, activities, or educational programs. Knowing that there had to be other people who would want to volunteer with their animals and give back to their community, she decided to start a non-profit organization, Silent Sidekicks, to fill this void.
The organization was created with the help of mentoring through New Ventures Maine (formerly Women, Work, and Community). With their assistance, Danielle was able to find the resources to start the organization, and for the next two years continued working on the blueprint for the organization. Sadly during this time, Grocho passed away unexpectedly, but Danielle continued on with the Pet Partners course individually and became registered without an animal. The organization was named in memory of Grocho, as the original sidekick.
Volunteers had been recruited with or without animals of their own, and Danielle continued independently with her dream of founding Silent Sidekicks. In the summer of 2012, Danielle’s golden retriever, Morgan, became Danielle’s sidekick.
The first program that Danielle and Morgan started was on February 14th, 2013, the Silent Sidekicks Visiting Program. The inaugural visit of the program was at the Gardiner Health Care Facility in Houlton, Maine. The members and therapy dogs who introduced this program were Danielle with Morgan, Suzanne with her sidekick, Harley, and Darlene. Silent Sidekicks has been growing exponentially ever since!
Board of Directors
- Danielle Ireland McGuckin, Chair
- Stacy Emery, Vice-Chair
- Amanda Worcester, Secretary/Treasurer
- Darlene Flood
- Aubrie Pfeiffer Smith