Caring Community

Gift exemplifies community support for Springfield family after accident killed pet dog, damaged home.

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Lauren Welch, a student at St. Michael’s Academy,holds a book that was presented to her by Beth Hogan, right, Vice-president of the East Forest Park Civic Association. Looking on, at left, is Ann Dougal, School Principal, and Frank Ryan, President of the neighborhood association.  (Mark M. Murray / The Republican)

SPRINGFIELD — Lauren Welch, 12, said Wednesday that it was devastating to lose her family dog, Henry, killed recently when a car crashed through their home in East Forest Park, but it was nice to know that people care.

One example occurred Wednesday when Beth Hogan, a self-professed dog lover and neighborhood activist, gave Lauren a copy of the book “A Different Little Doggy”. Hogan said she read the story about the accident “and I just wanted to do something for Lauren. I felt she needed a pick-me-up.”

“It was really nice,” Lauren said of the gift. “You don’t see people every day with feelings like that. It’s nice to know that there are people out there, outside my family and my school that care about me and the accident that occurred.”

Lauren said it was “of course devastating” to lose Henry, a Springer Spaniel, and she thinks about the “good times” they had together. “He’s in a better place,” Lauren said. “And I’m plugging along.”

Hogan also donated separate copies of the book to the school itself, the EFP neighborhood library, and to the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center, from which Henry was adopted in November. ” All the books were signed by the author, Heather Whittaker.

Ann E. Dougal, principal at St. Michael’s, said it was a very nice gesture and reflects that they are very sympathetic with events that happened. I think it is great to see the compassion that people have for one another and the way they try to embody that by reaching out. It reflects people caring about one another, forming a community.”

On April 14, an out-of-control pickup truck driven by an 85-year-old man went off the road and smashed through the Welch home at 350 Gillette Ave. The accident caused extensive damage and displaced the family for what may be four months or more. Separately, there is a fund set up help the Welch family at www.gofundme.com/8c10wo.