About The Kennek Foundation

The Kennek Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, is dedicated to bringing about hope, resilience and inspiration in the lives of those most vulnerable going through tough times.


FBI Boston Presents 2020 Director’s Community Leadership Award to The Kennek Foundation’s Sheila Duncan

FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta (r) and The Kennek Foundation’s Sheila Duncan following the award ceremony at FBI Boston’s Headquarters in Chelsea, MA.

Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta is pleased to announce the selection of Ms. Sheila Duncan as the Boston Division’s recipient of the 2020 Director’s Community Leadership Award.

The award was established in 1990 to honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in engaging the community in the areas of education and crime prevention. Every year, the Boston Division of the FBI can select an individual or organization that has gone above and beyond the call to service by making extraordinary contributions to their communities, and a significant difference in the lives of others. 

As the founder of the Kennek Foundation, co-creator of Trouble the Dog, and the author of three children’s books, Sheila Duncan has worked tirelessly to bring comfort and hope to children in need. She and her nonprofit have delivered thousands of plush toys and books to Boston-area hospitals, and police and fire departments all over the United States. Most recently, through her partnership with the FBI Boston Division’s Citizens Academy Alumni Association and the Stone Family Foundation, she has donated dozens of Trouble the Dog toys and books to the Division’s victim specialists to help soothe kids in crisis in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

“The commitment, kindness, and compassion Sheila Duncan has demonstrated to law enforcement and the communities we serve in raising awareness of victim services is an example for others to follow,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Sometimes, our agents, task force officers, and victim specialists encounter children on the worst day of their lives. They’re sad, scared, and searching for answers but when we give them Trouble the Dog, it immediately brings a smile to their faces, and is a temporary source of solace. The FBI is grateful for Ms. Duncan’s work and her continued partnership.”

“I am truly humbled to receive the FBI Director’s Community Leadership award.  When I see what is happening in today’s world, especially for children, it makes me more determined to provide Trouble comfort Dogs wherever there is a need.  First responders and Victim Witness Specialists have shared real-life experiences about how they are utilizing Trouble the Dog to comfort children. This inspires me to do more.  I am grateful to the corporations, businesses, and individual donors that have stepped up to make a significant difference to those in need and bring comfort and hope to children around the world,” added Sheila Duncan.

Ms. Duncan is one of 41 individuals and organizations to receive the Director’s Community Leadership Award this year. In light of health and travel concerns related to COVID-19, the annual ceremony honoring this year’s recipients was canceled. Instead, SAC Bonavolonta presented Ms. Duncan with the award during a ceremony held at FBI Boston’s headquarters in Chelsea, MA.


The Kennek Foundation and Trouble the Dog

The Kennek Foundation works much of its magic through the adorable plush pup, Trouble the Dog. Distributed to first responders through the generosity of Foundation donors, Trouble is a valuable source of comfort to children facing crisis situations — a “tool in the toolbox” — of police, fire, and ambulance personnel that can make all the difference to a child.

In a Multi-State Effort, Kids Help Police Officers Help Other Kids with “Trouble”

In November, K-9 Officer Kent Yee of the Quincy, MA Police Department was present for the delivery of 13 Trouble plush dogs to the Quincy Police Department.

Officer Kent Yee with Lexi, his K9 partner

These donations were made possible thanks to fundraising done by Caleb and Kaitlyn Anderson, twin nine-year-olds from Indiana, who were introduced to Trouble at the 2019 Dream Ride in Connecticut. There, they were inspired by Virginia Master K-9 Trainer Tom Hendrickson’s presentation about Trouble. So inspired, in fact, that the twins fundraised and donated 13 plush Trouble Dogs to Officer Hendrickson’s Hampton, VA Police Department, as well!

The fundraising message created by nine-year-old twins Caleb and Kaitlyn Anderson

In Quincy, the twins met Officer Yee through their multiple trips to Boston Children’s Hospital, which continue as Caleb battles a rare immune disorder.

Caleb and Kaitlyn Anderson were joined by Chief Paul Keenan of the Quincy Police Department when they delivered their donation of 13 Trouble the Dog plush toys

Recently, Officer Yee took a plush Trouble Dog to help comfort a four-year-old girl who is spending time in Boston Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Young patient at Boston Children’s Hospital with her new pal, Trouble the Dog

Following Officer Yee’s delivery of Trouble, the girl’s grandmother wrote the following note to The Kennek Foundation: 

Kent Yee, who is a Quincy police officer, brought “Trouble” and the book to my granddaughter (4 yrs old) who is in the ICU at Children’s Hospital suffering from pneumonia and bad flu. Today I was there and read the book to her. She loved the puppy and the book. She especially liked the character “Hope.” God bless your work, because these kids get the message!


Donation from NH Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities Funds Distribution of Plush Trouble Dogs to First Responders in New Hampshire

Sheila Duncan, Founder of The Kennek Foundation (third from left) joined (l. to r.): New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s David McGrath, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, Manchester, NH Mayor Joyce Craig, NH Speedway Children’s Charities’ Hillarie Scott, and mascot Milo on stage for the grant distribution ceremony. “Thank you, Speedway Children’s Charities – New Hampshire,” Duncan said. “Together we can continue to deliver plush Trouble the Dog toys to first responders in New Hampshire for children in crisis. We are grateful!”

Concord, NH Police Get Gift of Trouble

New Hampshire TV station WMUR9 reported on the donation of Trouble dogs made to the Concord police, courtesy of The Kennek Foundation and Speedway Children’s Charities NH. See the televised report here.


K9 “Buckshot” and Trouble the Dog Provide Comfort in a Time of Need

Certified therapy dog, Buckshot, and his handler, Tom Hendrickson, of the Hampton, VA Police Department are on the streets helping children going through tough times. Hours after a plush Trouble the Dog was delivered to this beautiful little girl, she had to visit the hospital due to a respiratory issue. Trouble was there to help her through.

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