Tag Archive for: WCC Volunteers

Thank You, Volunteers!

April marks the observance of National Volunteer Month, a time to celebrate our tireless, dedicated volunteers for all they do to give back to the Veteran community. Volunteers are more than just helpers—they’re the backbone of Warrior Canine Connection (WCC). 

We simply couldn’t do all that we do without our volunteers. I’d like to reinforce that statement by providing some concrete examples of the impact volunteers have on our organization.

Last year alone, a total of 536 volunteers assisted WCC for a record-breaking total of 102,939 hours (about 11 and a half years!) across our 15 program sites. That massive volunteer manpower accounted for a major cost savings to WCC, valued at $3,083,024.00 (based on $29.95 per hour)—all while serving 1,152 Veterans through 4,667 hours of Canine-Assisted Therapy. That’s a significant impact that allows WCC to designate its resources and funds to its No-Fail Mission of providing highly trained service dogs to Veterans with visible and invisible wounds.

We are also proud to share that, also in fiscal year 2022, WCC’s volunteers received 148 Maryland Governor Citations and 101 Presidential Service Awards for their efforts. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in addition to the gift of time, talents and treasures, we have built so many meaningful relationships with our volunteers, many who we consider not just friends, but family. 

We’re already more than a quarter into 2023, and our amazing volunteers are on-track to top these amazing numbers this year. Are you looking for an opportunity to engage with WCC? Check out our individual and group volunteer opportunities here.

Last but not least, I’d like to say a heartfelt “thank you” to all our volunteers who have not only made a significant impact on our organization, but on the Veterans’ lives they’ve worked so tirelessly to benefit. Dog Bless!

Rick Yount
Founder & Executive Director, Warrior Canine Connection

Thank You, Volunteers!

This April, National Volunteer Month, we celebrate our tireless, dedicated volunteers for all they do to give back to the Veteran community. Volunteers are more than just helpers—they’re the backbone of Warrior Canine Connection. We simply couldn’t do all that we do without volunteers.

Here’s how WCC volunteers made a difference in 2022.

A total of 536 volunteers assisted WCC for a record-breaking total of 102,939 hours across our 15 program sites. That massive volunteer manpower accounts for a major cost savings to WCC, valued at $3,083,024.00 (based on $29.95 per hour)—all while serving 1,152 Veterans through 4,667 hours of animal-assisted therapy.

WCC is also proud to share that its volunteers received 148 Maryland Governor Citations and 101 Presidential Service Awards for their efforts.

Thanks to these remarkable volunteers, we accomplished all this work (and more) in 2022. Already more than a quarter into 2023, our amazing volunteers are on-track to top these amazing numbers this year.

Are you interested in volunteering for WCC? Check out our current opportunities here.

Puppy Parent Volunteers Needed

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month.

If you’re looking for a cause to support, become a puppy parent and help raise service dogs for Warrior Canine Connection. Watch the full story on Fox 45 here.

Thank You, WCC Volunteers!

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Warrior Canine Connection. This month and every month, we are grateful to all the amazing volunteers who support our organization. Your time and talents truly help change Veterans’ lives. Not only that, but your contributions also significantly impact WCC’s bandwidth, budget, and ability to provide programming.

Here’s a snapshot of the impact volunteers made on WCC in 2021 (note infographic to the right).

A total of 526 volunteers assisted WCC for a record-breaking 87,376 hours donated across 13 program sites. That manpower accounts for a major cost savings to WCC, valued at $2,493,711 ($28.54 per hour) — all while helping to serve 526 Veterans through 3,997 hours of animal-assisted therapy.

So why do they do it? A few WCC volunteers share “their why” with us below.

“Volunteering with WCC means I get to be a link in the chain reaction each puppy starts from birth, with saving a veteran’s life who will then in turn change everyone else’s lives around them for the better.”
Deborah Logan, WCC Volunteer since 2020

“When I first signed up to be a WCC volunteer (as a puppy sitter) to be quite honest it was all about the love of puppies. As I learned more about the WCC programs and the incredible Veteran and military community they serve it soon turned into Fur the love of Veterans. The puppies are a wonderful and joyful bonus. Though neither myself nor my husband (who is also a volunteer) are veterans we come from a long history of them. Both of our grandfathers, fathers, uncles and my brother have all served in the US military in both the Army and Air Force. 
I love my volunteer jobs with WCC. It gives me a sense of community, I’ve developed many friendships with WCC employees, I’ve watched numerous litters grow up and change lives.”
Jerri Hatch, WCC Volunteer since 2016

I’m currently Nathan’s puppy parent. I volunteer to learn how to train dogs, relieve stress, and make a helpful impact for WCC.”
John Alsterda, WCC Volunteer since 2018

“I have always been passionate about animals and know the impact that a service dog has in a person’s life. I saw it as a child. I have always had a profound respect for individuals that serve our country. Being able to volunteer in this way is a gift. Being a volunteer has taught me a lot about myself. There are no words to describe the relationship between a dog team. I see the benefits and love a dog brings to my own life and then see the greater impact one has on a veteran or veteran family.”
Krista Vega, WCC Volunteer since 2019

“I never served in the Military, although I was a Military wife.  I started at WCC to honor my Dad, a Navy Veteran who passed in 2015.  He wanted to volunteer with Veterans after he retired but unfortunately passed before he got the chance.  It is also a way for me to serve our Military and Veterans.”
Lisa Pendleton, WCC Volunteer since 2015

“My dad is a service-disabled veteran. I grew up raising search and rescue bloodhounds with my grandfather. Becoming a WCC volunteer was the opportunity that allowed me to reconnect with what I always wanted to do as a kid: work with dogs every day, but also do that work for an amazing cause that is so important to me: supporting our veteran population. Seeing my service dog in training work with a veteran in the Mission Based Trauma Recovery program changed me forever. Seeing both the veteran and the dog benefit from the working relationship was incredible. I want to make that experience available to more veterans and raise a service dog that will change a veteran’s life.”
Bridget Forney, WCC Volunteer since 2020

“After losing our family dog in early 2021, we wanted to have a dog in our life while also giving back to our community. WCC rather serendipitously entered our lives, it’s seemed meant to be! We love knowing we are helping veterans, especially as the satellite dogs work with veterans as part of their treatment. We also love being representatives of WCC and sharing the story of the great work they do!”
Tegan Kopilenko (and sons Bennett and William), WCC Volunteer since 2021

Again, thank you to all of you, our amazing volunteers, we couldn’t do it without you!

Are you interested in volunteering for WCC? Check out our current opportunities here.

Puppy Parents Needed to Raise Service Dogs for Veterans

Warrior Canine Connection is seeking puppy lovers to help raise a future service dog for present and former members of the United States military.

“We are in dire need of puppy parent volunteers,” said Beth Bourgeois, media relations officer for the nonprofit in Boyds. The organization seeks at least a dozen puppy parents. Read the full story on MYMCMedia.org here.

We Honor Our Volunteers

April is National Volunteer Month. We at Warrior Canine Connection are grateful to all the volunteers who support our organization. Your generosity allows our Veterans to heal, our programs to thrive, and has created a strong community.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” said Rick Yount, founder and executive director, Warrior Canine Connection. “We simply couldn’t do all that we do without the support of our extraordinary volunteers. They are helping to change lives for the better.”

Somehow, despite restrictions due to COVID-19 and operating at 60% of volunteer capacity from one year earlier, our amazing volunteers posted a record number of 78,707 service hours in 2020, valued at $2,140,830 ($27.20/hour) in cost savings to WCC.

Also, remarkably, 50% of WCC’s 2020 volunteers were comprised of Military Family Members and Veterans—reinforcing the adage of ‘Veterans helping Veterans.’

Why are WCC volunteers so engaged? Each volunteer has their own reason.  

“From the first time I saw Holly’s Half Dozen on the explore web cam and tuned-in to the live chats about the organization, I connected to the WCC mission of using the healing power of dogs to help veterans who were struggling.  Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to see the difference one dog can have in the life of a veteran and his/her family. My life path did not include military service but volunteering with WCC has now given me the opportunity to support our nation’s veterans.  The unexpected part of volunteering with WCC are the many connections and dear friendships I’ve made with other volunteers and supporters all across the country.” 
Terrie Bates, WCC Volunteer since 2013 

“I learn so much from the animals and the trainers and love the mission!” 
Amy Griffith, WCC Volunteer since 2020 

“I love the feeling of community at WCC. We are there for each other, you are never alone when raising a future service puppy. We all support each other when we are feeling stuck or disheartened when maybe our puppy isn’t as far along in training as others. We remind each other our puppies have their own path and it’s not about keeping up with each other it’s about taking it at your puppy’s pace. We also support each other during the transition from when our puppies go to their path whether that be a family support dog, advanced training and working service dog. Our hearts ante poured into these fur love bugs and we know the day will come to transition from our heart to another but it’s never easy even though it’s beautiful.”  
Ashley Poindexter-Tarmy, WCC Volunteer since 2019  

“I have always volunteered for some organization in every phase of my life but WCC is by far the most rewarding volunteer job I’ve ever had. My father and brother are both disabled Veterans and I couldn’t be more honored to be able to give back to our veterans in such a healing and holistic way.” 
Michele Burkhammer, WCC Volunteer since 2019 

Volunteering at WCC allows me to connect to the military community.  While I work with dogs, I feel great satisfaction knowing that I am helping veterans and their families caring for the dogs that will one day serve them. I believe in WCC’s mission and feel good in knowing that the dogs we raise will help those in need.”   
Nancy Deprey, WCC Volunteer since 2020

“WCC gives me a purpose and working with all Veterans allows me to give back to my brothers and sisters in arms who have given so much. Being able to watch the changes take place and the Veterans opening up. To see them laugh and smile and make eye contact. It is everything and worth the 2.5 hours I spend in a car to watch this miracle happen.”
Robin Martin, WCC Volunteer since 2012 

“We want to give back to Veterans and their families. It is a huge honor to be a WCC volunteer and share the mission with everyone
we can.”
Bill and Tammy Crozier, WCC Volunteer since 2019 

“Volunteering for WCC combined love of dogs with a mission I support; I am a part of something bigger than me, and my support continues WCC’s mission.”
Kimberly Harrington, WCC Volunteer since 2016 

Thank you to all of you, our amazing volunteers, who give your time and talents to WCC; we are very appreciative of all you do.

We will be featuring several of our amazing volunteers with their thoughts on why they choose to help WCC on our Facebook page, so keep an eye out for them!

Interested in volunteering for WCC? You can check out our current opportunities here

Volunteerism: A Family Affair

In August 2015, Pam Govender and Pawan Galhotra, along with their two young childrenSajel and Emil, were searching for a volunteer opportunity to give back to their community. The family had two requirements. First, because Pawan works at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California in its polytrauma unit, they wanted to stay connected to the VA’s programs. Second, they also wanted it to be an experience in which their entire family could participate, one which would allow all of the family members to give back in their own way. When they learned about Warrior Canine Connection’s (WCC) on-site program and missionthey scheduled a visit. 

“We’re not a military familybut we recognize and appreciate what Veterans as well as their families have sacrificed for the country,” said Pam“When we learned about WCC’s program at the VA, it resonated with us because of its mission. We dove right in. We filled out our applications right away and were enrolled in puppy parent training classes within two weeks.”  

Five years and three dogs later, the family is still as involved and as passionate about the work they’re doing for WCC. Over the years, Sajel and Emil’s responsibilities have changed, but they continued to play a large role in the training and development of WCC dogs Charlie, Howard and, most recently, Arthur.   

“It has been an amazing five years — there are no words to express the gratitude for our involvement in the program,” said Pam. “WCC has created a community of support offering our family an opportunity to help Veterans”. 

Besides being three-time puppy parents, the family has also generously gifted their time and talents at countless community awareness outings, fundraising events and at just about any other opportunity or need that comes up throughout the year.  

Over the years and with the placement of each dog with their Veteran, we have come to appreciate the impact and healing that these dogs have had on the Veteran and their family. It’s so rewarding to see the bigger picture, knowing that the dog is doing something that is so important for someone else that’s in need.” 

Pam says their home feels empty without a dog right now. 

“I’m quite amazed by how much free time we suddenly have — it’s like that third child you miss,” said Pam. “We are eagerly awaiting our fourth service-dog-in-training. Our family recently hosted Andrew for a week. We are hoping to get our fourth dog in January or February, once one is available.” 

“Pam and Pawan, and their children Sajel and Emilare a family dedicated to raising WCC dogs for our wounded Veterans,” said Alexis Baker, WCC service dog training instructor, Menlo Park. “Pam is good at reflecting on how to help her dog make the progress he needs to make. Taking the training bit-by-bit when necessary for a dog that might be struggling, has helped out on numerous occasions. The whole family is a delight to work with and I’m looking forward to them getting another dog to raise soon too! 
And although current programming is limited due to the pandemic, Pam says the family is excited to get more involved when life returns to “normal,” and she encourages other families to get involved with WCC.      

I’d like to add — for potential puppy parents, even though there is a certain amount of work to be done, it is a gratifying experience for the entire family.” said PamThere’s a selfish component to the experience, but obviously the bigger picture is how much these dogs contribute to our Veterans’ lives.” 

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a WCC puppy parent, click here. 

WCC’s Calli Gets Private Flight to Maryland from Volunteer Pilot

It’s not all that uncommon to see a service dog accompanying its owner on a flight. But it’s not every day that a dog gets its very own privately chartered flight. That’s precisely what WCC’s Calli recently got, thanks to a spectacular volunteer, Mark Horton. 
Calli, a WCC military family support dog from the Welcome Home Litter who was paired with his military family earlier this year, recently had some health issues that required some specialized medical care. The problem? He was in Memphis, Tennessee and WCC’s veterinary team is in Sandy Spring, Maryland. 
It just so happens Mark, who is a Veteran himself, lives next door to one of WCC’s team members who told him about the situation. That’s when Mark happily agreed to get Calli where he needed to be via his personal four-seater plane. 

“There are two types of pilots — a pilot who flies because it’s a good job and the others who fly because they love it,” said Mark. “I often look for an excuse to fly and this was a good one — it was a win-win for everybody.” 

civilian pilot part of his career, Mark says he “got distracted” and ended up going to the military medical school as a naval officer and then he took a position with another commissioned uniformed service that took him to the Indian Health Service where spent 32 years as an eye surgeon. 
In his role, Mark often found himself in remote locations where Native Americans didn’t have access to specialty healthcare. He convinced his leadership team to start a small flight department so he could help get physicians and specialists in and out of the area to help provide medical services that otherwise wouldn’t be available.  

Mark served as the chief pilot of the flight department for 15 years and recently retired from medicineClearly, having spent most of his life helping others isn’t just a job for him, but a way of life.     

“I don’t need much excuse to go flying since I retired from my federal job,” said Mark. “Before this, I’ve been around service dogs only on commercial airlines. Calli was absolutely superb. In fact, he was far better than a lot of passengers I used to fly. He was great, he curled up and couldn’t be happier, I was very impressed.” 

Calli is back in Maryland, where he’s resting comfortably and in good hands with WCC’s medical team. 

We are continually amazed by all that our volunteers and supporters, like Mark, do to help our Veterans, dogs and our organization. Please join us in thanking Mark for going above and beyond to help Calli!