Kerry Norris fundraising for NATIONAL EDUCATION FOR ASSISTANCE DOG SERVICES INC
NEADS provides independence to people who are deaf or have a disability through the use of canine assistance.
I appreciate NEADS because three populations benefit: First, Service Dog recipients such as persons with disabilities, the Deaf, wounded combat Veterans, children on the autism spectrum, and teachers/ministers/therapists in their work (over 1,300 assistance dog teams since their inception in 1976); Second, rescues from animal shelters (nearly 100% of Hearing Dogs are from shelters across the US); and Third, the prison inmate population who train 90-95% of assistance dogs in over a dozen states (Prison Pup Partnerships).
As a Social Worker, Professional Advocate and volunteer, I have worked consistently with folks who have a multitude of abilities and talents, as well as conditions that create significant daily struggles - barriers in meeting their basic activities of daily living and, oftentimes, more than one disability. Similar to Maya Angelou's analogy in her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, each barrier can be represented by one metal bar. When enough barriers exist collectively, they serve to cage that individual. Disabilities combine with other forms of oppression, such as racism/ageism/homophobia/gender bias/social classism.
In my personal life, I have witnessed the profound abilities of dogs to help us heal and cope more effectively with life's struggles! We have a number of dogs in our home who provide great comfort and joy; most of them rescues.
Although I have been a Social Worker many years, since relocating to the southeastern states I have learned more about the struggles that combat Military Veterans and their families experience; particularly when they are required to acclimate back to civilian life.
I have been blessed to have people share their painful experiences with me, which has increased my understanding and awareness. Many people with disabilities who can benefit from an Assistance Dogs have also been victims of abuse, violence and combat.
One major lesson I've learned is understanding that multiple forms of "combat" exist outside of military service. For example, children who grow up with abuse, sexual abuse, incest, and violence live in combat every day because they aren't safe. Domestic violence and victims of bullying experience the same. Sadly, too many cases of violence exist to list here. We have constructed societies that accommodate the able-bodied, and tend to dismiss the needs of those who struggle, particularly if their difficulties are not visible to the eye.
Many organizations exist that are deserving of your financial assistance. My hope is that you will support NEADS in serving others. If you cannot donate funds, please support us by passing on our link to others and share the work we do with your friends and loved ones to increase public awareness about the great benefit that Assistance Dogs provide to their humans!
Peace, shalom, namaste, blessed be.