Sunday, September 27, 2015
First off I had to help my daughter move her stuff into her own place 2 states away, talk about making someone think about going back to the roots. Well maybe not all the way back but at least back to her roots when she came into this world as a premature baby and we all wondered how that little bundle would turn out. Well now she is out changing lives on a daily basis working with others to help mend and create healthy bodies. To see her live a dream and become such a strong young lady makes her "Daddy" proud. I think I may finally understand how my parents may have felt when I started to take on my own role in life. (ROOTS)
So the real thoughts of Roots came this week when I was asked to go and partake in the Prison Pups Benevolent Association'a fund raiser to help the program that works with the MA Prison system K-9 programs. This program works with America's VetDogs and NEADS who both train service Dogs in many of the MA prisons. The group consist of many of the CO's and other Staff along with community members that see the changes these puppies bring to the entire system. Of course when I was called and asked to come up I could not say yes fast enough.
When I arrived on Friday morning the reaction mike received was great to watch. Remember that Mike was raised in Framingham MCI so many of these great people that are giving up their Friday and money to support this event also put in many hours watching Mike grow up. Mike remembered them all and wanted to say hello to them all also. The boy that is usually so good at staying by my side and ignoring others was back in puppy mode for a time but he got it out of his system and let me know he was back on the job. To be able to hear all the stories about how Mike was in his time at MCI was wonderful and satisfying for sure. I always knew he was special but now I know that he was a special one from day one or should I say week 8 ;)
The stories during the day between the CO's and other staff members solidified my understanding of how much this gift of a service dog program makes in the community. I say it like that because the reach of these dogs is boundless when you think about it. There are lives that will be either touched or untouched because of these dogs. The obvious is the Prisoner who changes because their heart has been touched we all see that but how about the CO who is assigned to walk the wall and sneaks a treat into his or her pocket in hopes of a quick pet and a smile during the rounds. Do we think about the reactions that happen later in the day when he/she goes home and instead of getting drunk decides to volunteer as a big brother or a couch or maybe they get bumped and instead of going off because of the high stress job they are able to react differently. Little things like this we don't think about but they happen all the time.
There is more though. When you look at the dogs in the prisons the entire system changes in subtle ways to make it possible to have them and it affects every person inside the walls. When you talk to the staff their eyes light up and there is no way that you can tell me that same enthusiasm I see doesn't effect the interactions between prisoners and staff and prisoners and prisoners. If only one person is changed a little then we have a butterfly affect taking place where down the road a crime that could have taken place my not because of a change of heart. That means one or more less victims see what I mean by effecting people that will never know. The entire program changes lives in ways that can not be evaluated.
We have not even gotten to the weekend puppy raisers yet. Lets take a moment to speak about these people who travel sometimes a couple hours in both directions to sit through training and socialization classes for these little puppies after a long week of their own working lives. Just so they can help the program. After meeting many of these raisers I can tell you that not one of them would be the type of people I personally would expect to hang around a prison system let alone get involved with a program where they are interacting with them weekly. Not only do they interact though they shout this stuff from the mountaintops, they own this program like you wouldn't believe. Every one of these raisers I spoke to has a passion about what they do and why they do it that just oozes out and covers the community creating a buzz. I found myself saying things like hey if you guys ever need anything like pictures and stuff just call because well they are so involved you can't help but want to help them help others.
I guess what I am saying is when you get involved with a grass roots program and look at the changes it makes take a moment to look for the changes you can't see. You will want to help even more.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
|The Pictures of Mike & I are Provided by |
the Veteran Portrait Project
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is hard to believe that I actually let the entire month of August go by without making any entries here, for that I am sorry. For those that follow this rambling of mine I guess it doesn't surprise you at all. The month of August is normally one of the busiest months of the year for me and this year was no slouch that is for sure. If you read the last entry you saw the list of events I had mentioned and I will tell you that each and every one of those went off along with some unplanned surprises also.
The month was full of emotions as well as events which for me makes things extra special. When I focused my life toward the goal of helping others and taking the time to get to know people at a different level then I have ever been able to do my life really changed. It is not an easy road to travel but it is a very satisfying one once you get past the fear and unknowns that get thrown your way. The blessings I have seen (I am sure they have always been there) have had me in tears often this month.
Some of the highlights of the month for me were being able to travel over to Long Island and meet with Brian & his bride Angie while they received his new guide/service dog. The unexpected retirement of Othello was such a loss and looked to be irreplaceable (just like Iris felt to me) yet once again America's VetDogs and the Guide Dog Foundation was able to train and pair an amazing puppy that took to Brian as if he had been waiting for him forever. To see that joy of a family being brought back together after such a tragedy of retiring Othello was tear jerking.
At the same time on the Island I was able to take part in the 1st ever 5k run/walk fundraiser at the Old Bethpage Museum. Being able to meet local to the foundation people was a unique experience and something I am very grateful for. The event was a huge success and many new friends were made. One of the highlights was being able to spend time with another veteran that has a guide dog from the foundation. He was a Korean War Vet and has never been able to get into the VA system due to a number of reasons. Hopefully during our conversation we were able to clear some things up and he will be able to now start the process to get his benefits that he has coming to him.
One of the biggest problems out there is that many of our nations veterans do not realize or they have tried but have been given wrong information and never followed up with a Veteran Service Officer. Please if you know a Veteran who was discharged honorably who has any issues going on in his or her life I am not saying they are always going to get benefits but more often then not there will always be someone that will help them figure out how to proceed to best handle any situation. No person should have to handle life alone and Veterans signed a blank check at one time the least that can be done for them is have someone that can help guide them when they need answers. If you know someone Drop me an email I will make sure that they get the right point of contact to proceed.
Ok, the big trip of the month was down to Baltimore for the 97th National Convention for the American Legion. This years convention was great as are all of them because there is nothing better then hanging out with people that care so much about their country that they not only served but continue to serve by guiding our nations youth and leaders through community service. Yes I am passionate about the Legions mission and love hanging out and helping where I can. I am honored to be around so many that do so much more then I could ever imagine.
Our booth for VetDogs was an interesting place to hang out this year. Joe Dan Worley is a medically retired Navy Corpsman who was working the booth with me. Between the two of us we had people laughing and crying along with all sorts of other emotions. I thank God for the opportunity to hand out the applications we were able to and also so grateful for all those Post and Auxiliaries that have committed to making VetDogs their mission this year. Over the past few years of my time with the legion I have watch the awareness grow and the hearts of people being touched without a doubt a humbling experience. I wish that I could tell all the stories that came up over the time spent this past week but maybe some other time. In the mean time I will say that for any group or person that is looking for something to stand behind and step up to the plate with VetDogs is a great opportunity.
Thank you all for allowing me to rant again if you only knew how often during the writing today I had to wipe away the tears of joy because this past month has been just that great. On a personal note our lives are changing here at our home, our youngest has moved out on her own and our son will be married in less then 2 months. My brides medical issues have kicked up a notch and she is putting in for disability do to it. We are going to be looking at new living arraignments sooner then later and many other things will be changing. Please keep us in your prayers, everything will work out no doubt but as in everything else in life it needs to be lived.
If you have a moment please go check out the Veteran Portrait Project by Stacy Pearsall She does amazing work.
Now for the shameless plug to insure other Veterans have the same opportunities I have had Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.