The 2015 Givin’ Where I’m Livin’ (GWIL) campaign provides support and publicity for local non-profit charitable organizations competing for GWIL matching funds during the campaign’s Week of Online Giving, April 19-26. Around Dripping Springs is pleased to feature this series of GWIL non-profit profiles to help publicize their unique missions to the community. We invite you to get to know these wonderful organizers and learn more about the important work they are each doing to enrich our community. Please share their stories, and be sure to donate to your favorite during the Week of Online Giving! Learn more at: http://www.GivinWhereImLivin.org
NOW MEET SERVICE DOGS:
WHEN, HOW, AND WHY WAS YOUR ORGANIZATION FOUNDED?
The name of our organization is Service Dogs, Inc. Our founder and president is Sheri Soltes, a lawyer who saw a need for service dogs and decided in 1988 to start the organization. In order to help both dogs and people, Sheri decided that our dogs would all come from shelters and that we should provide them to people with disabilities free of charge. Our Director of Training is Al Kordowski.
WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY MISSION?
Our primary mission is to improve the quality of life of persons living with disabilities through partnership with a working dog, to rescue dogs abandoned at animal shelters and provide them with renewed lives of love and service, and to provide the training and dogs free of charge. We serve the needs of both dogs in need of homes and people in need of assistance due to disabilities such as mobility issues or hearing loss.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE COMMUNITY THROUGH YOUR ORGANIZATION’S EFFORTS?
The bond that forms between our dogs and clients is powerful, and we hear wonderful stories about our teams every day. One of our most memorable stories involves Pastor Ray McCoy and his service dog, Excalibur. Excalibur has saved Ray’s life twice in the time since they were matched as a team – the first time was the day after he moved in to Ray’s house. Ray has a rare disease that can cause blackouts, and he was at the back of his yard with Excalibur when he passed out. Excalibur immediately ran and fetched Ray’s wife and led her back to help him. The second time was even more powerful – when Ray passed out in the bath, Excalibur pulled him out by his ankle and prevented him from drowning. This was especially meaningful because Excalibur had come to us scared of running water, but he was able to overcome that fear through positive training and his bond with Ray.
Many of our teams have similar stories of the amazing relationship that forms between our service dogs and their human partners.
WHAT ARE YOUR ORGANIZATION’S PRIMARY GOALS IN 2015?
Our primary goals for 2015 are to rescue and train a minimum of 15 dogs for our program, to find foster homes for all of our dogs for nights and weekends, to raise funds to train the dogs, to increase public awareness of service dogs and help train the next group of service dog trainers through our professional workshops, and to increase our community outreach and the number of people who know about us.
We have several events planned to support these goals – our biggest event of the year will be the Mighty Texas Dog Walk in April, which will raise both money and awareness. We will also hold a professional workshop and audits to both raise funds and increase the number of service dog trainers in the field. In addition to these fundraisers, we will participate in La Senorita and the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, hold foster orientations to gain local fosters, and participate in multiple public speaking engagements.
HOW CAN FOLKS DONATE OR VOLUNTEER YEAR- ROUND?
We can be reached through our website, servicedogs.org, to donate and for volunteer opportunities. Our mailing address for donations is 4925 Bell Springs Rd, Dripping Springs, TX 78620, and our volunteer coordinator Karri Spence can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for information about volunteering and fostering.