As a new volunteer for Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet© (GAfSP) I thought I’d wade in the water slowly just getting my feet wet. But as soon as I realized how over-worked some of the truly devoted, long time volunteers were I “volunteered” to help out. I didn’t mind the extra responsibilities. In fact I began to feel like I had a purpose in life again. You see I hadn’t been working for a few years and I wasn’t feeling very useful. Hence, finding a group that I was passionate about and volunteering. Little did I know that I would soon be jumping into the deep end head first! I was given the task of finding a foster home for two dogs belonging to Airman Mary. Mary’s deployment was short term so I figured how hard can it be to find a foster home for her dogs for such a short tour? You guessed it…much harder than I thought!
Airman Mary was based out of New Jersey so I began calling all of the foster homes listed in New Jersey whose circumstances seemed to be compatible with caring for Tully and Kona. Hours went by, my fingers were sore from dialing the phone, my ear was numb from having the phone pressed so tightly against my head and I was going cross-eyed trying to read each number that I dialed. After two days of frantically making calls I was in full panic mode! And that’s where the beauty of working for such a great organization as GAfSP comes in. I reached out for help and people came running. I was thrown a life preserver from two wonderful women. Victoria S., Northeast Region Director and Jaime M., Foster Home Coordinator for Pennsylvania. With their help I was able to keep afloat while continuing my search. I never did find anybody in New Jersey to foster Tully and Kona. But since Mary’s base was close to Pennsylvania I was able to begin dialing away on the Pennsylvania foster home list provided to me by Jaime. With so many more possibilities I once again believed that this would be an easy task. But Noooo. As my grip began to slip off of the life preserver and I was starting to drown I got another small life line. It was suggested that I send out an urgent, mass e-mail to foster homes in both states. It was a pain staking process because I had to manually copy and paste each e-mail address from the state lists that had been compiled over time. But once I was finished I sent out the e-mail and then all I could do was pray! Finally I was sent a giant life boat! Not one of the approved foster homes stepped forward but some kind soul did forward my e-mail message to a friend and that woman e-mailed me saying she wanted to help. I wanted to jump through the phone and hug her when I called to talk to her. She would have to be rushed through the screening process and approved at warp speed. (Thank you Linda and Jaime.) Once again members of GAfSP stepped up to the plate and made sure that our new recruit got approval just in time for her to meet up with Mary, Kona and Tully. The Guardian Angels were watching over Mary and her dogs that day because the home was a perfect fit for Kona and Tully. Mary loved the woman who had so graciously opened her doors to care for her furbabies and the woman loved Tully and Kona and felt blessed to be able to help out someone who was serving our great country. This for me was the gratification I was seeking. Despite getting drenched, in the long run, my efforts paid off and I felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction that I too had helped out a person serving our country.
Many more Foster Home Coordinators are still needed! Please check out the states that have been defined as needing help the most.
Note: Airman’s name has been changed due to OPSEC guidelines.
– Article written by Laurie Sickles.