Tell us about your involvement with your favorite charity
Favorite Charity: The Foundation for Service Dog Support, Inc. (FSDS)
I am a former paramedic from NY, and served my community for 15 years, sustaining numerous line of duty injuries along the way. Subsequent to this service, I attended medical school. I became progressively disabled in the years following graduation due to a combination of genetic illness and prior injuries. In 2005 it became necessary to obtain a service dog to assist me, and I became aware of so many gaps in disability services in our community.
The Foundation for Service Dog Support, Inc. (FSDS) was co-founded by myself and a friend, Miriam, a nurse with 50 years experience. We sought to create a program that would recognize those that serve their community and preferentially grant dogs to those in honor of their service. We believe that those wounded in the line of duty should not be relegated to the end of the wait list and forced to pay out of pocket for services necessitated by their injuries.
We also committed to addressing the need for youth education in our community on service dog and disability issues. The FSDS runs a unique service dog training program, allowing youths to participate in all aspects of training, including raising the dogs and acquiring service dog training skills. We pair these youths with the recipients, thus building in a mentoring program that matches local teens with community heroes. This teaches the youths the importance of community service as well as respect for our police, fire, military and others who serve.
Through collaboration with the community, we are able to accomplish training for both dogs and students at a fraction of the cost of other programs that train only dogs. Help comes from unexpected places. The brightest minds in science and medicine can mend broken bones, stabilize injuries and ameliorate physical symptoms. Through the FSDS training program, all it takes is a teenager and a dog to restore independence and quality of life to a hero in need. This is a powerful statement.
A portion of the proceeds for all items sold in any event are donated to the FSDS to help support programs and services. For certain events however, larger items are donated for silent auction or other fundraising efforts, and the FSDS retains 100% of the profit for these sales.