Andrew Mann and his dog, Proof, were there to meet the people and answer questions about their work at Graffiti Community Ministries in the South Bronx.
Mann serves as pastor of Graffiti 2 church and leads a team of staff and volunteers in ministering to children and teenagers in the community.
“About 85 percent of the kids who come to our ministry center and church were born into poverty,” he said. “This section of the Bronx is the lowest income area of the city. There aren’t a lot of resources available to the kids.”
One resource that the ministry offers is after-school tutoring.
“We have about 50 kids who come to the center after school,” Mann said. “We have volunteers who come in to help with homework. Plus, the 6th-12th grade students help tutor the 1st-5th graders. We also have a program called Parents Rock. We see the parents as the foundation of what we do with the kids. In order for the kids to be allowed to be involved, the parents have to volunteer one day a week at the center.”
Having a certified assistance and professional therapy dog involved in the ministry may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Proof provides a source of unconditional love for the children. She listens to them as they practice reading and doesn’t judge.
Mann calls Proof “the first missionary dog.” He said while he doesn’t have absolute hard evidence that there has never been another one, he has never been corrected when he has said that.
“Proof, of course, is only one part of the ministry, but she is an important part,” Mann said. “Kids all over the neighborhood know her.”
by Polly House, Communications Department