Dear 2023 -
If 2022 left you feeling scorched, then in 2023 let us dance in the rain. Breathe in peace, play in the puddles, and toast to a year of hope, prosperity, and longevity.
Spring of 2022 ignited a blaze of energy that saw the opening of our third concurrent training program at Richland Correctional Institution, onboarding 12 trainers and by December marked 10 service dogs placed with 15 added to our pack. This great expansion is in response to a sharp increase in families applying and waiting for their service dogs, notably in the Central Ohio area as word of mouth continues to spread.
This unobstructed vigor thanks in no small part to our parents, advocates, and individual donors whose efforts have far exceeded their goals. This little village that we built together, 19 years ago, also celebrated a reunion and return to in-person activities, spreading joy and benevolence with fervor throughout the year.
No longer the best kept secret in Cleveland, we continue to be the charity that Cleveland grew. Because of you - we are and continue to be a family of families. In that is the silent promise to continue to train more dogs so that more kids might receive their service dogs with shorter wait times. Wait times that are still at 30 months long, since COVID. This year and beyond, we aim to bring balance back to you, our family of families, so that you can continue to rely on us as your resource for adaptive early intervention services as early in your child’s life as there is a need and an interest.
Our roots firmly planted in our hometown, raised with a value system that will never let us stray from your side; our team continues to be deeply committed to each child and family that comes calling and each family that has yet to discover us. From here and across Ohio - we promise you this - No parent will feel the vacancy of services for their child or of our presence in our willingness to serve. No child will doubt our belief in their future and potential to be successful and achieve their dreams. We promise to support one another in empathy, inclusion, kindness, and strength.
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to raise a puppy. Whether you have been a citizen, a tourist or are just passing through our little village – thank you. Your presence doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, it may be the greatest gift of all. As I sit here writing this, I am awestruck with nearly 20 years of stories to tell, peaceful in the knowledge that we will be here 20 years from tomorrow BECAUSE of the amazing strength that surrounds me in our partners, our staff, volunteers, and volunteer-based board that stand beside me like the four pillars of purpose.
Our kids and families of course will always be the gasoline in our tank. The reason we get out of bed in the morning on a freezing day. And why we come together all year ‘round. Because there is no time like the present and early intervention opportunity is at the tip of your fingers (www.wags4kids.org)
Let these new beginnings in 2023 bring you the same joy, peace, and quiet confidence that you have given us to achieve everything that you set your mind and heart to as we continue to celebrate the new year – new hope – new dreams. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do to make our kids’ dreams come true!
Sera Nelson, Executive Director
Working Animals Giving Service for Kids