October: A Time for Giving

Year round, many corporations encourage employees to give back to the community and the world. Many match employee donations, have drives, host events, and do what they can as a team to help those in need.

A number of corporations designated the entire month of October to raising awareness, encouraging volunteerism and charitable giving. These campaigns, headed by the United Way, foster an atmosphere of generosity, providing opportunities to give not just to the United Way, but smaller niche charities of choice.

One of the large participants of the October campaign is Microsoft Corporation. Due to their strong belief in giving back; not only financial donations are matched year round, but also in-kind, stock, and volunteer hours.

Karl’s Kids Program, Inc. recently went through Microsoft Matching Gift Program’s authorization process and is now listed in their nonprofit database, a convenient way for Microsoft employees to report donations for matching. As Karl’s Kids manages my fundraiser, this includes contributions to my fundraiser. I ask anyone interested in donating to look into their own corporation’s matching gift program, so you can watch your donations go even further!

A long term friend of mine, Mary Shevlin, graciously volunteered to assist with my fundraising by becoming my liaison for Microsoft, where she is employed. She currently has several copies of my ‘Hope Print’ in her office for in-person viewing and purchase. Any Microsoft employees with further interest or questions should feel free to contact Mary directly via email at marysh @microsoft.com.

I am very thankful to Mary for her dedication to me and my journey to find a new service dog. Knowing I am not alone in this process means the world to me. If anyone else feels compelled to be of assistance promoting and facilitating my campaign in your team or place of work, please contact me. Any assistance in spreading the word is much appreciated!

On the topic of fundraising I believe about $2000 of my $7500 goal has been raised! It might be more with donor matching! Thank you so much to all who have helped me make it so far!!! Your support and encouragement have been and continue to be huge blessing through this very hard year following the loss of my partner.

Along with the campaign, I am seeking other opportunities to promote my fundraiser. Some future ideas I have include:

  • ‘Meet the Puppy’ house party (needing a host)
  • A yarn-inspired raffle for my Ravelry friends (needing donated raffle items)
  • More hand-crafted items in my shop for the holiday season.
  • More venues to display my work (please, please contact me if you spot an ‘art wall’ at a coffee shop).

Celebrating this month of giving I have added more prints to my Online Store for further selection. Please pass the word!

Also note: I’ve created both a Facebook Page and Twitter Feed dedicated to this journey. If you use these mediums I encourage you to join (like, follow, or whatever they are now calling it…) for convenient updates as I continue this journey.

Many thanks for making my dream a reality.

~Forever with Hope, Jessica

Why fundraising… I thought all service dogs were free?

People ask why I have to fund-raise for my service dog. Many believe all Assistance Dogs are provided free of charge. It is true most guide dog programs do not charge for guide dogs, nor does Canine Companions for Independence (CCI)–the longest established service dog program. However, most other programs require clients to actively contribute to the cost of their partner’s training and care.

Did you know it costs over $30,000 to train and place an Assistance Dog? That is a minimum of 300 hours of training; and two years of food, medical and kennel care. This cost is offset by volunteers and donors, but smaller emerging programs just don’t have the same donor/grant base as the guide programs or CCI. For example, Dean Koontz actively promotes and donates book royalties to CCI. Obviously that affects their funding pool.

So why not CCI? CCI is a great program. They do a lot for the service dog community as a whole. Unfortunately, they do not train for neurological disabilities. They specialize in wheelchair assist and they are excellent at it! It makes sense. All the dogs are trained with the same general tasks, bred for the same purpose and evaluated on the same criteria (of course personalities and strengths are matched). It allows them to serve a greater population, but also puts limitations on special needs/multiple disabilities/more complex tasks.

The founder of CCI, Bonnie Bergin, knew many others could benefit from a service dog. CCI couldn’t take all applicants and people like me actually benefit from smaller, more intimate programs. Bergin founded the University of Canine Studies specifically to teach others to train service dogs and start their own programs.

That is how my program, Brigadoon Service Dogs, started six years ago. As a small program, they aim to work closely with their clients from the time an application is submitted. They provide a custom match and personalized tasks along with individualized team training. Because of this, there is a good chance I will actively work and bond with my prospective match from the beginning!

Brigadoon would love to provide Assistance Dogs free of charge, but at this time that is not possible. My goal is to fund-raise $7500 contributing to the cost. If all 200 prints are sold at $25, I meet $5000 of that goal. A similar original print usually costs twice that amount, but I feel HOPE should be affordable to all. I hope those who can contribute more will do so. My online store offers both prints and an option to contribute beyond the suggested donation. Remember to check with your employer to see if they will match your charitable donations!

I am thankful Karl’s Kids, Inc. volunteered to help facilitate my fundraising through their ADAP project. Their technical support allows me to blog with training wheels! Further, donors can rest assured their donations will be kept safe, designated specifically to my needed service dog. At times the inevitable happens and no match is found. Because charitable donations are not refundable, any donation directly to that program stay with the program even if I must find a different route. It’s rare, but it happens.  By using Karl’s Kids and ADAP to facilitate my fundraising project, I am able to ensure that even if Brigadoon Service Dogs is unable to find a suitable service dog match for me, funds donated towards my service dog will still in the end go towards that cause and not stay with an organization who is not able to service my need.

This journey sounds daunting, but I am optimistic… it is, after all, driven by HOPE.

Hope Springs Eternal

Featured

In 2003 HOPE entered my life…

…in the form of a vivacious, loving, and faithful golden retriever.

Hope was trained to assist with my neurological disability. She became my partner, helper, best friend, and constant companion. Working fluidly as a team; she led–I followed. I asked–she responded. She became an extension of me, an intricate part of my ability to function.

With Hope by my side doors began to open. I discovered my life passion–art. With her assistance I was able to attend classes, engage in the arts community, successfully show my work, and discover my true style. Hope of a bigger, better life grew in me.

In 2010, cancer took my Hope and left me searching for a new partner to help me on this journey. In remembrance of HOPE this linocut is hand-carved in her image and individually printed in my own unique style–no two prints are identical! 100% of the proceeds will go directly to my service dog fund so that…

HOPE can truly Spring Eternal!

Jessica Thompson, 2011
200 limited edition prints
4.5×6″ on 8×11″ high quality printmaking paper

Suggested Donation: $25 (S&H $3)
(Anything over $25 is tax deductible)

Visit my Online Store to order your own unique print!