2018 ANNUAL REPORT
Another Year for the Books.
At the end of 2017 we knew 2018 was going to be an amazing year. What we didn’t know was just how crazy it would be. We knew that sponsors would be needed in order to get our mission flying high. Local businesses and individuals were ready to support our mission, based on our past relationships in the community. While the foundation was new, our business is not. We have been a staple in the community for several years. In fact, our training facility - What’s Up Dog? won “Best in Destin” honors for 2018.
[UPDATE: We won it again for 2019].
Our first major sponsors were Backwoods Bridges & Coastal Customs and Restoration; they donated a custom painted transport van to us. Then, at the very end of the quarter White Dog Insurance Advisors made a $10K donation to kick off 2018 with a bang. Plans were laid to update our kennels, increasing capacity and work flow - while creating an even better environment for our dogs. All of which came together nicely.
This made it easier moving forward and would allow us to supply 10 dogs to 6 Veterans and 1 child + 2 Civilian Adults. This was on top of the 8 others we trained for another non-profit to place with Veterans, in early 2018. It was a very productive year despite a major hurricane narrowly missing our training facility.
Saltwater Restaurants asked us to meet with them about a possible fundraiser to kick of the season. We were super excited to have such a great group of people standing behind us. They threw the ‘Bugs on the Bayou’ Crawfish Boil at The Boathouse Landing Restaurant to help raise funds alongside of Props Brewery and Willingham Seafood Company. We look forward to kicking off every summer with this annual event.
Our ‘One Hot Summer - BBQ’ event sponsored by Lillie’s Q BBQ was a great time. August in Florida is hot, but the BBQ was even hotter. We welcomed some amazing people to see what we do and to bring awareness to our mission. Ryan Frederick Stroud brought his unique sounds and charm to the party and filled the air with guitar and song. We are grateful to all of our participants in the raffle and vendor booths.
Hurricane Michael interrupted our plans for our ‘Putting 4 Paws’ Charity Golf Tournament hosted by Prime Lending - Emerald Coast and Affordable Home Insurance. We didn’t let Michael steal our thunder - we simply rescheduled. Well, and moved the venue, and added a few more sponsors and teams. A great time was had by all - and we cannot wait until our next golf tournament with these folks next year.
We lost a bit of training time, and postponed some placements due to the storm that devastated our neighbors in Panama City and further east. We were literally just a few miles out of the storm’s path. We felt fortunate to be spared; we knew we couldn’t sit by and do nothing for our friends. We immediately sprang into action following the storm’s passing; clearing roads, providing food - shelter - supplies to those in such great need. We supplied tons of food for people and animals alike.
We are proud to know so many wonderful people who joined our efforts. With the help of Dixie RV, Preserving the Panhandle, Crab Trap, Surf Hut, and VKI Japanese Steakhouse, we were able to prepare and deliver nearly 3,000 hot meals every single day when it was needed the most.
The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island held a fundraiser for Hurricane Michael survivors, and we were invited to participate alongside of Panhandle Prayers. The funds raised were put to good use in helping with relocation efforts for some families, and more essential supplies for others staying in the area. While Hurricane Relief isn’t what we do, we knew it is who we are! It has been great to see so many strangers working together to help those in the greatest need.
We wrapped up the year with all eyes looking forward. We are making plans for projects at the training center, and focusing on fund-raising efforts in order to keep our mission active. By the end of 2018, we were able to place dogs from coast to coast because of our supporters. We are proud to serve our Children and Veterans in the capacity we do. It is truly a mission that started from the heart. We are committed to changing lives through properly trained Service Dogs. Here’s to a wonderful 2019!
Compiled by Steve Kotowske, Executive Director