In 2013, a dedicated team of volunteers from across the country scrambled to pull together WCC’s very first graduation. Seven years later, the tradition continues with an event that welcomes nearly 500 people and has become a highlight of the year for WCC. Still today, volunteers continue to be a key component to the event’s success. This year, approximately 50 volunteers from 18 states gave more than 700 hours of volunteer service to make the WCC Graduation a memorable day for Veteran graduates and their families.
“I started volunteering at WCC as a way our entire family could be involved together,” said Ericka Johanek, WCC volunteer and self-proclaimed Extreme Puppy Watcher (EPW). “As an Air Force family, it’s a way to give back to fellow members of our community who have given so much. Seeing the change the dogs make in our military members so they can live full and rewarding lives is so rewarding! I love being able to spread the word about what WCC does to our community.”
While some volunteers are drawn to WCC because of their own military connections, others admittedly are drawn by the puppies.
“I came for the puppies and stayed for the mission!” said Kim Rice, WCC EPW and long-time volunteer. “I helped plan the first event at WCC and was then asked to help plan the first graduation … the rest is history! I love volunteering for WCC in general, but graduation is my favorite. Graduation is an opportunity to celebrate all the hard work of the trainers and puppy parents, but most importantly, welcome the new graduates into the pack and celebrate their new chapter in life. It’s also a bit of a homecoming as many past graduates come back to visit WCC for graduation. It’s great to see the graduates and their families catching up with each other, staff and EPWs, and of course–did I mention the puppies!”
Each year, more than 800 volunteers touch every aspect of WCC’s programs through their generous gifts of time and talent. Key roles volunteers play include puppy parents, puppy sitters, puppy petting, facility maintenance, event and administrative support, and fundraising, among others.
On behalf of a grateful organization, thank you to all WCC’s volunteers for your dedication and support — for at times dropping some of your own responsibilities to help fulfill those of others. Thank you for seeing the need and rising to the challenge. Thank you for sharing your time and talents to help improve the lives of the others. But most of all, thank you for your kindness, full hearts and conviction for serving our nation’s Veterans.