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Jefferson Awards 2022: Kathleen “Kit” Darling and her team of furry friends

Kit Darling founded Aggieland Pets with a Purpose in 2002.
Kit Darling founded Aggieland Pets with a Purpose in 2002.(KBTX)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 5:19 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - If you’ve ever had a stressful day and thought to yourself, “I could really use some love from a furry friend right now,” chances are, Kit Darling was there to help.

That’s what she does. She helps others.

“Happiness is making others feel happy,” Darling said.

Who better to describe Kit Darling than the friend and colleague who nominated her for the Jefferson Award, Amie Brauer.

“She’s a wonderful friend, a wonderful person, and her entire life she’s done nothing but help other people and she does that by looking and seeing what needs to be done and then going out and doing it.”

She does this with the help of her four-legged friend Tempe. Tempe is short for “temporary,” but more than seven years later, it looks like Tempe is here to stay. Whether they’re visiting patients and staff at St Joseph’s Hospital, residents at The Langford Retirement Community, or students studying at the Texas A&M Library, this dynamic duo brings smiles to even the most stressful situations.

“You see stress, tension, and anxiety on people’s faces, but then they see the dogs and a big smile comes to their face.”

Aggieland Pets with a Purpose was founded in 2002, with the help of Kit Darling.

Kit noticed how her dog, Dexter, calmed the children she and her husband fostered.

“Dexter used to sit with them until he felt like they were comfortable with the situation,” she said.

The first child they fostered, a 1st grader, loved to read to Dexter.

Last year, a beautiful partnership with Happy Camper School was born. Rachel Tatum, a teacher and parent of a Happy Camper student, says that Kit and Tempe have made an incredible impact on the children’s confidence and learning habits.

“To go from begging my child to finish just this one reader or read just this one list of vocabulary words to ‘okay, it’s been 10 minutes you can’t read anymore, you have to stop, okay, all done reading’... it gives me goose bumps,” Tatum said.

Since its founding in 2002, Aggieland Pets with a Purpose has continued to grow.

“At first, we had to go out and sell ourselves to people... tell people that we’d really like for them to invite us to their facility,” Darling explained.

Now, people come to them.

That includes the Langford Retirement Community, where a visit from Kit and Tempe is like a visit from family. Katy Peterson, the Lifestyle Director at The Langford, has worked closely with Kit for years.

“Kit is such a genuine, honest, caring, and giving person. She volunteers so many countless hours and she truly believes with all her heart in her mission,” Peterson said.

Kit’s mission is to bring people joy and comfort.

“As I’ve learned with helping others, I’ve received countless blessings. I have really enjoyed volunteering and will continue to volunteer for as long as I can,” Darling said.

She does all of this with a simple purpose.

As Amie Brauer explains, she doesn’t want to be noticed, she just wants to do the right thing.

“There’s so many people that do things because they want to be in the limelight, but Kit does things because she wants to do the right thing,” said Brauer.

Right now, Aggieland Pets with a Purpose has a staff of 51 people, 52 dogs, one cat, one rabbit, and one horse. Kit says they want to keep expanding further, so they can help more people in the community.

You can learn more about Aggieland Pets with a Purpose here.

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