As the year winds down (already!), I’ll join the chorus of charity organizations for consideration for year-end tax-deductible donations.
NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services, also known as Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans), specializes in training assistance dogs for the deaf and disabled.
Full disclosure: As a person with some hearing loss, I am on the wait list for a hearing dog with NEADS. I point out that I had a selection of organizations to choose from. I will list the other providers at the end of this post. I ultimately chose NEADS because of the great work and record they have.
There are a decent selection of assistance dog providers but NEADS has a long history of working with hearing dogs when most focus (in my opinion) has historically been placed on eye-seeing guide dogs. That focus is obviously a priority for my personal needs. But they also are very well-rounded in supporting other disabilities, such as autism, physical disabilities, combat veterans, and children. They boast of being the first to have an established program for combat veterans. Whether or not they are first is moot. They now have a program specific with wounded combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. They provided the assistance dog to a pair of Boston Marathon bombing survivors and have a fund specific for any other of the bombing survivors.
I’ve visited their facilities and am amazed how much they do with such a little physical footprint. Originally a couple of houses tucked in a residential area, they are expanding and upgrading their property to house more clients for training but also to be completely disabled-accessible. For those of us who have seen or been involved in projects making homes or businesses accessible, we appreciate that is no easy feat.
Consider their programs for donations. Note, I am not asking you to help with my fundraising though that is certainly appreciated. You can specify which program you want the funds directed to. Some examples are:
- Canines for Combat Veterans
- Pup raising foundations
- Boston Marathon Bombing survivors
- Facilities upgrades
- Specific clients
- General needs
Additionally, they have published this list for goods sought in donations:
Our Wish List
NEADS regularly goes through a lot of supplies that we need replenished. Consider making a donation of any of the following items — our dogs will be forever grateful to you!
For our dogs:
Our dogs are fed a specific diet and we will only use the food that is listed above. Please only donate the listed treats.
For our kennels and veterinary care:
For our clients’ housing:
We sincerely appreciate the donation of any item(s) from this list. Please contact us by email or phone at 978-422-9064 so we can thank you and make arrangements.
Due to limited space and manpower, we can not accept gifts that do not appear on this list. If you would like to help NEADS in other ways, please consider making a monetary donation or becoming a volunteer.
Finally, if you are in the area, they are looking for assistance with weekend puppy sitters. They need people to look after their puppies-in-training. Mostly labs, but some other breeds can be mixed in, well trained and so adorable. Surely, it can’t get better than that! Just look at them. Doesn’t your heart just melt?
Other similar organizations for your consideration:
My list is slanted towards east coast, northeastern, providers with hearing dog training focus because that is the area of my search. There are many other organizations closer to you with other specialties if you are interested in supporting a local organization.
I would be silly if I didn’t at least talk about my part.
I was born with moderate hearing loss. My parents raised me no differently from any other child growing up on my street. I went to school with all the kids. I never learned sign language. That “you are no different and you can do anything you want” has been a boon from a supportive loving family.
As I get older, though, I’m more acutely aware of my limitations, especially when I travel alone. The sad reality is women still have an extra level of security awareness and concerns than men, and I came head to head with that reality. I’ve known for about a decade that my hearing loss came with its limitations. I already considered back then to get on the wait list for a match. But I put that on the back burner when the opportunity to live overseas opened up. Living overseas had been my lifelong dream and I knew that since I never had a pet, trying to raise and care for a dog as a first-time owner when living in Asia was not a good idea.
Now that I’m back in the States, it is time to resume with the plan. I felt NEADS fit my requirements best. I’ve been on the wait list since December 2013, a year now. As many organizations warn of 2-3 year wait times, I am aware how long it could be.. but I admit the wait is also frustrating.
NEADS does not require payment from clients. They do ask us to raise a minimum of $9500. I need to emphasize: They do not withhold dogs based on funding. Clients will be matched with dogs if their application is accepted, regardless of financial situation. Many of their clients struggle to meet the goal. Consider the kinds of disabilities some of they have- they also face medical bills, special accommodation needs, limited social access.
As I am far more fortunate than most people, disabled or not, I pledged to raise the full average cost of raising and training a dog: $25,000. I paid 20%, $5000, myself. Between that and my initial request to friends and family, I have currently raised $16,000, past the requested minimum, and more than halfway there.
I asked Westin to contribute a substantial sum. They offered a pathetic $250, a sum that not even covers the cost of one night in their hotel in the UK, where I was living at the time. Considering what a large corporation the Westin/Starwood hotels are and the kind of failure and callousness they exhibited when I was attacked in their property, I was, still am, insulted. I admit in my anger I basically told them to shove it. They tried to raise the offer, but it was simply too little, too late.
So now I’m determined to not just raise but surpass the $25,000 without their help. Please help me in my goal.