Healing Companions ~ Brenda Keltner

Barbara Keltner with her rescue dogBrenda Keltner’s family witnessed first hand what a difference a healing companion made in their sister’s life and decided they would like to help make that possible for others.

Brenda recently passed away in St. Mary’s Ohio. She was born on September 12, 1963, in Van Wert, Ohio to Gayle and Margaret (Faller) Keltner who preceded her in death.

She is survived by her siblings, Joyce (Don) Sonnastine of Wadsworth, Ohio, Richard Keltner of Van Wert, Gary (Renee) Keltner of Phoenix, AZ, Larry (Kathy) Keltner of Tucson, AZ, Debra Smith of Convoy, Jan (Doug) Jones of Venedocia, and Linda Keltner of Boston, MA. Her numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews were very special to her.

Her dog Dinky was her loving companion. She had also rescued Monty, Too, and Cosmo, loyal companions who previously shared her life.

Brenda was a 1981 graduate of Lincolnview High School. She graduated in 1985 from Ohio Northern University. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University. Formerly an Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Columbus, Ohio, Brenda had presented several cases before the Ohio State Supreme Court. Always an advocate for the marginalized and those less fortunate, Brenda took time to help those who needed help.
She treasured her family. Her generosity, thoughtfulness, along with her amazing, joyful laugh and sense of humor will be remembered and missed by all those who knew her.

The family has requested donations to honor Brenda be sent to Healing Companions.  If you would like to donate, click here.  If you would like us to let the family know about your donation, just click here to email us and we’ll forward a note to them on your behalf.


Saving Lives in Three Ways



We will put your donation to good use today and every day!

Healing Companions, Inc. is participating in GivingTuesday – a global day of giving…Our goal is to raise awareness of the use of Psychiatric Services Dogs in helping those with mental illness lead a full life.

In providing PSDs to those in need we not only save the lives of shelter dogs that would otherwise be euthanized but also assist those with mental illness and give training to inmates who can use their new found skills to find jobs when they are released.

Please consider a donation to Healing Companions as part of your GivingTuesday!

Healing Companions logo


#GivingTuesday and all year long…

#GivingTuesday is a special day for all charities. However, we hope you will take the time to remember Healing Companions, Inc. all year long.  All your gifts large and small are equally appreciated!  Since we know people give in many different ways we have done our best to make it easy to give to Healing Companions.  You can of course give directly or join us in the Tower of Giving. You can help us raise money by letting your friends know you have given and encourage them through social media. You can even give during your everyday shopping through Amazon Smiles and CoinUp.

However you choose to give, know that we appreciate you and you will be contributing to a life altering experience for those that we serve.


Coin UP for Giving Tuesday!

Healing Companions, Inc. and Coin Up can amplify the impact of #GivingTuesday.

CoinUPAppNovember 29th is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Following the shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season and is an international program that reached over 700,000 people last year alone. Healing Companions along with Coin Up are actively participating in #GivingTuesday and aiming to surpass last year’s success in a big way.

“Giving Tuesday’s message encourages individuals to give not just at this time of year, but all year round,” says Leena Patidar, chief executive officer of Coin Up. “Aligning with Giving Tuesday’s mission, Coin Up’s convenient mobile app allows donors to chose their charity and give incrementally throughout the year.”

In 2015, Giving Tuesday raised $116 million in one day. Immediately following Thanksgiving 2016, this year could be the best year yet, raising millions to help millions.

Healing Companions has recently partnered with Coin Up – the most innovative way to donate your spare change! Simply download the free Coin Up App here and select Healing Companions, Inc. as your charity, register your credit/debit card, and set a monthly limit. Coin Up’s advanced technology will virtually “round up” your transactions and automatically donate this spare change to Healing Companions on a monthly basis. Learn more about how Coin Up works at www.coinupapp.com and join the movement at https://www.givingtuesday.org/.

About Healing Companions, Inc.
Healing Companions, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to increasing awareness of and providing access to psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) as a form of treatment for mental illness.

About Coin Up:
Coin Up is an innovative mobile app that provides a platform for donors to give effortlessly and securely to their favorite charitable cause. Once downloaded and registered, the app will round up purchases made on your credit card or debit card and directly send funds to your chosen charity. The app is free to download and has been designed to simplify giving by using incremental spare change to create major social impact. Coin Up’s mission is to create a society that engages in charitable giving through the convenience of everyday transactions. For more information on Coin Up, visit the site at: https://www.coinupapp.com YOUR CHANGE. YOUR IMPACT @CoinUpApp


HCI and Oberlin College LaunchU

Healing Companions:
A Conversation with Jane Miller ’83

Jane, please give readers your “elevator pitch” description of Healing Companions, and its many points of community impact.

There are three groups that we directly reach through our work. We: 1) rescue and train shelter dogs to be psychiatric service dogs; 2) transform the lives of those struggling with mental illness; and 3) provide basic dog training job skills to inmates.

Healing Companions was initially founded to provide new avenues of support for those suffering from debilitating psychiatric disorders, including PTSD, that prevent them from living functional lives on their own, by matching and training psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) specific to their needs. We work directly with Berea Animal Rescue Friends and bring rescued dogs to the Grafton Reintegration Center for an inmate training program. As part of the rehabilitation process, inmates work to train dogs and gain their Canine Good Citizenship certification. This program saves the lives of dogs by making them more adoptable, and allows us to match some of the dogs with our clients, but also serves to provide the inmates with business skills and supplemental training to enable them to better reintegrate into society upon release.

You have been running this business for a number of years. Did the idea come to you fully formed, or has it evolved over time?

My story begins in the mid-1990s when the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted. The ADA established that those severely limited in their ability to function due to mental illness qualified for psychiatric service dogs. It was just about that time when I started to incorporate the use of shelter or rescue dogs as PSDs into my practice. My clients’ lives were transformed. Even though they continued to struggle with severe limitations, having trained dogs by their sides allowed them to return to work full-time, go back to school, shop for groceries by themselves and give back to society in ways they had never imagined.

In 2013, I founded Healing Companions, Inc., as a non-profit organization to serve mentally ill people across the country by providing information about and access to PSDs. We train PSDs to meet the needs of individuals in order to mitigate the effects of their symptoms. Depending on the individual’s disability, PSDs are trained in tasks such as guiding a handler disoriented by anxiety, conducting a room search to alleviate fear of intruders or the unknown, providing assistance in locating an individual’s car when dissociating, interrupting a panic attack, obsessive compulsive behavior or nightmares.

The tasks that the PSD is taught to perform allow its owner to go out into the world, hold a job, study, develop healthy relationships, and essentially become able to cope with the ups and downs of daily life.

We are committed to high ethical standards and therefore see the value of intensive one-on-one, individualized training, which can be extremely time consuming. The organization trains only a limited number of PSDs simultaneously so as to guarantee the quality of the instruction each dog and handler is receiving. It takes 18-24 months to fully train each PSD.

That sounds both labor intensive and costly to the organization. What can the Oberlin/LaunchU community do to support you moving forward?

Please spread the word about our work transforming the lives of those with mental illness and providing job skills to inmates so that they have the ability to make livable wages upon release, while also saving shelter dogs’ lives.

We are always seeking volunteers. A number of Launch U participants, presenters and guests have given their skills, expertise and ongoing support. Some have made presentations for the inmates, assisted with our analytics, etc. We are currently looking for:

  • Website support (WordPress)
  • SEO expertise
  • Technical assistance
  • Photographers/videographers
  • Fundraisers
  • Board members

You can also make a difference by donating to provide our clients with the opportunity to be more productive and engaged in life. We welcome direct and matching contributions, sponsorship of fundraising activities, and the donation of facility use for events.


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