Johnson, who began working with State’s Attorney Glasgow on the Paws 4 Kids program in 2012, will receive The Allen Award during the 2016 Honors and Recognition Banquet Thursday evening at the Jacob Henry Mansion’s Victorian Ballroom. The award is named after the founder of Project Acclaim, the Rev. James E. Allen, and is presented to those who demonstrate a commitment to community service.
State’s Attorney Glasgow launched Paws 4 Kids through the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center and turned to Johnson, who has worked for years raising and training puppies on behalf of the Leader Dogs for the Blind organization. Her personal dog, Jackson, is licensed through Therapy Dog International and was the first canine to begin comforting children who visit the Center for victim-sensitive interviews that are conducted during child sexual abuse investigations. These interviews, recorded in a child-friendly, neutral environment, have been used to successfully prosecute literally thousands of child predators.
Jackson is a 63-pound Labrador Retriever. Since then, Johnson has brought her other personal dog, Malley, also a Labrador Retriever, as well as two highly trained facility dogs, Kiwi and Angus, both English Labradors, into the fold at the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. Angus works with support groups associated with various specialty courts; Kiwi also works in the Children’s Advocacy Center and will be comforting children when they testify in court.
“This is a wonderful honor for someone like Cheri, who loves dogs and so completely understands the life-affirming bond between children and man’s best friend,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Cheri’s dogs bring all the love and kindness they experience under her care to work with them every day, and they give it to vulnerable children who rely on them for comfort and support during the most difficult times in their lives.”
Project Acclaim, originally called Joliet Project Pride, was formed by the Rev. Allen in the 1980s to promote civic pride and inspire community involvement. At its honors and recognition banquet, the organization also will honor Terry D’Arcy of D’Arcy Automobiles for his philanthropy as well as the Pritz Family of Joliet. The event is open to the public. More information on the Allen Award and the banquet can be found on line at www.projectacclaim.org.