My mother is a “giver.” She’ll give you her time, money, food, probably the clothes off her back if you need them. I’ll always be grateful for the giving spirit she instilled in me as a youngster. I think that may explain why I wanted to be a philanthropist when I grew up. I believe this was Mom’s “fault.” Now that I’m grown, I still dream of being a philanthropist, and I continue to chase that dream. In the meantime I give when and what I can. I’m not talking about writing checks, although I’ve done that too, I’m talking about service. I believe everyone is obligated to give back to their own community. I also believe that everyone is able to do so.
Becoming a pet partner team with Hand in Paw is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. The power of a Human-Animal team is extraordinary, and you can’t quite comprehend this unless you have served or been served in this special way. It has been a life-changing experience for me, and I like to think I made many lives better with my faithful little partner, Cowboy, during the four years we worked together.
I’ll never forget the magnetic smile of a young man when we set Cowboy on his bed in the Neuro-Intensive Care until at UAB, or the thrill on the face of the Speech Therapist when the Autistic child who would not speak, said “puppy.” I still get chills when I think of the eight –year-old boy at the Comprehensive Cancer Center we spent time with every week. On his last day of radiation treatment, I was so excited for him, yet he was very sad. When I asked him why the crinkled frown, he simply replied, “I won’t get to see Cowboy anymore.” Until that moment, the real impact of our weekly visits wasn’t that apparent to me. But at that moment, it became crystal clear that Cowboy brought even more joy to this little boy than the likelihood of having another birthday party. But the best news for his family, was that getting better meant having more and more birthdays.
Birthdays, as many as possible, are meant to be celebrated. My Mom taught me that too. Many thanks to those who give, share, minister, and treat others. Together we help make kids, and the world, a little better.