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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bush to laud Moanalua woman

By Andy Yamaguchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

PRESIDENT'S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD

The Bush administration created the President's Volunteer Service Award in 2004 to recognize people who improve their communities through volunteer service and civic participation.

More than 520,000 people have earned the award, including 845 in Hawai'i as of April 14.

To nominate someone, go to www.presidentialserviceawards.gov and click on "Honor Your Volunteers."

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President Bush on Monday will present a national award to a Moanalua woman who has spent the past 17 years cheering up patients at Tripler Army Medical Center through a "pet therapy" program.

Eloise Monsarrat will receive the President's Volunteer Service Award at Hickam Air Force Base during Bush's Hawai'i layover. The president will be returning from Southeast Asia.

Monsarrat, 84, has devoted more than 10,000 hours as a volunteer pet handler with the Human Animal Bond Program at Tripler. Specially chosen dogs, cats and rabbits are taken to visit patients, often providing a soothing presence that can perk up people confined to a hospital room.

"They give a reassurance (to the patient) that they're loveable," said Monsarrat, a retired phone company employee and Punahou School first-grade teacher. "The dogs give unselfishly an unlimited love to you. It's good to know you're liked even if it's some stranger's dog."

She recalled taking a puppy and a cat into the room of a despondent young boy. "We put the dog on one side of him and the cat on one side, and he was smiling from ear to ear. It makes you feel so good," she said.

Other Hawai'i hospitals have similar "pet therapy" programs, Monsarrat said. She has been with Tripler's since it began in 1989. The program has grown to include 17 dogs, three rabbits and a cat, all carefully screened and escorted by their owners in the hospital.

Monsarrat also helps conduct orientation training for new animal handlers.

Monsarrat whose husband, Roger, descends from Kingdom of Hawai'i customs head Marcus Cumming Monsarrat, for whom Monsarrat Avenue in Kapahulu is named received the American Red Cross Lifetime Award in 2005.

"Did she tell you she was also with the Civil Air Patrol?" Roger Monsarrat said. She had not. Roger Monsarrat explained that his wife is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, flying search-and-rescue missions and training others for 31 years.

Bush has met with about 550 award recipients in his travels around the country. More than half a million Americans have earned the award, which was created in 2004.

Reach Andy Yamaguchi at ayamaguchi@honoluluadvertiser.com.