2023 Grand Service Project
Below is the transcript of the speech given by our Grand Worthy Advisor Sydney, introducing our new Grand Service Project, Pawsitive Teams (www.pawsteams.org/) at the First Official Visit in 2022.
How many people in this room have participated in a graduation ceremony from an educational institution? Regardless of where you graduated from, your graduation ceremony is a key part of your life. It is symbolic of change, of progression, and of moving on to new adventures. As a whole, graduation is an immense milestone, but for some even having the ability to walk across the stage to receive their diploma is one of their biggest accomplishments by itself. An accomplishment that took months of hard work, effort, and immense perseverance to make happen.
To people who struggle with disabilities, even simple tasks like walking at graduation, or being in a big group of people seem like an unreachable task. That is one of the reasons why working animals is so important. In the case of therapy dogs, from helping a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people. And in the case of trained service dogs, individuals with disabilities are provided with greater independence, the ability to do everyday things that we often take for granted.
Two women in San Diego, California were puppy raisers for a service dog training organization. They would spend many months working with and loving these pups. As the puppies were ready to move on to formal service dog training, they watched the trainers and met some disabled individuals who were learning how service dogs could make a difference in their lives. That’s when the seed was planted.
In 1997, Carol Davis and Charli King - with one dog - created Pawsitive Teams. When they opened, their programs included training and placing service dogs for San Diegans with limited mobility and teaching a six-week Therapy Dog Prep School. Since then, they established the Pawsitive Animal Assisted Therapy program, which partners with facilities in San Diego that serve people who would benefit from interactions with therapy dogs.
While a number of therapy dog programs are active in California, Pawsitive Teams’ program is unique, as certified handler & therapy dog teams work directly with professionals to provide goal-directed therapy for the recipients. For example, a goal could be for a student to speak more clearly, or for a veteran to be able to go to Home Depot without fear. This is different from other forms of therapy dog volunteering and involves far more creative thinking from the handler, who has to be actively involved with designing tasks for each interaction.
In addition to goal-directed therapy, Pawsitive Teams also provides service dog training and placement for those with mobility limitations. It also trains and places facility dogs, who work with professionals in the work setting to accomplish client-related goals.
I am so unbelievably excited to announce that California Rainbow will be partnering with Pawsitive Teams as our 2023 Grand Service Project! From top to bottom, Pawsitive Teams stands out because its priorities are being placed always where they belong, on the welfare of the dogs, and on the needs of the clients and community they are serving. Our goal for this year is to sponsor the training and placement of 3 service dogs and to help financially support Pawsitive Teams with the execution of their mission to enhance the lives of people with special needs. California Rainbow, together we can help support this wonderful organization, so they can continue to utilize dogs to help improve the lives of so many people