Editor’s note: This summer, USA TODAY NETWORK’s A Community Thrives program granted $2 million to organizations in 92 cities across the country. In Arizona, more than $130,000 was awarded. This is the second in a series of articles profiling the local recipients.
Dogs can be exceptional teachers.
At Phoenix nonprofit Raising Hope Dogs, four-legged friends are partnered with professional therapists to help children from low-income families that are dealing with autism, behavioral challenges, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.
This summer, Raising Hope Dogs received a $10,000 grant from A Community Thrives, which is sponsored by the USA TODAY NETWORK, of which The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com are a part. Now in its third year, ACT awards grants to nonprofit organizations that focus on wellness, education and arts/culture.
Raising Hope Dogs believes the use of trained dogs as part of the therapy team can accelerate the therapy’s progress.
“The services … have been so impactful on his lifestyle,” said Greta Jorgenson, whose 8-year-old son Quanah has been paired with a border collie named Dandy to help with his autism.
“He’s more outgoing. He’s more social, especially in a new group setting with people or other kids that he doesn’t know. He’s more able to go up and say: ‘Hi, I’m Quanah, you know Dandy?'”
The therapist and dog duo go into therapy sessions with the kids and help them meet specific goals.
“For some kids, that may be more physical therapy. For kids with autism, a very common therapy goal is to get over a strong dislike of food,” said Beverly Damore, the group’s executive director.
The organization also hosts an annual HopeDog Challenge, a day of sports competitions for kids and teens with autism.
Jergenson noticed her son’s progress at the event.
“(Quanah) gets a little bit of everything at the games. He’s able to have more confidence speaking in front of other kids that he may not know; he’ll talk about the dogs to warm up with other kids,” she said.
Raising Hope Dogs was one of seven Arizona nonprofits that received grants from A Community Thrives. The grants were awarded by the USA TODAY NETWORK, of which The Arizona Republicand azcentral.com are a part. Now in its third year, ACT awards grants to nonprofit organizations that focus on wellness, education and arts/culture.
This year, A Community Thrives granted $2 million to support 136 organizations in 92 cities across the country, and an additional $2 million-plus was crowdfunded to support 1,525 participating organizations. In Arizona, more than $130,000 was awarded.
Other local organizations that received grants were:
- Cancer Support Community, which will use $50,000 to support its Survivorship on the Go program to provide services across the Valley.
- Alwun House Foundation, which received $30,000 after pitching a Green Art Park for downtown Phoenix’s Garfield neighborhood as a green space and place for musicians and artists to perform.
- Liberty Wildlife, which will use $20,000 to help hire a person to manage its unique feather repository program.
- The Gilbert Historical Society, which received $10,000 to help with ongoing efforts to rebrand downtown Gilbert as an entertainment and dining destination.
- Musica Nova Orchestra, which received $8,000 in support of its efforts to provide access to musical performances to low-income students.
- St. Dominic Savio Academy in Chandler, which helps children with autism from the time of diagnosis to young adulthood. The group received $3,000.
“This grant is going to allow us to keep living the dream and the plans we made for this year which is to get more dogs through training and working with kids,” Damore said.
The application period for 2020 grants is expected to begin early next year. Read more about A Community Thrives at act.usatoday.com.
Raising Hope Dogs
What it is: Nonprofit organization that trains dogs to work with children from low-income families who are dealing with autism, behavioral challenges, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.
A Community Thrives grant: $10,000 to support animal training program.
Address: 4316 E. Palo Verde Drive, Phoenix.
More details: 602-689-8849, www.raisinghopedogs.org.
Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2019/08/14/raising-hope-dogs-train-more-pets-for-autism-low-income-down-syndrome-with-community-thrives-grant/1968539001/