Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Spirit of Volunteerism Award

Susquehanna Service Dogs would not be what it is without all of our dedicated volunteers. Our volunteers raise and sit our puppies, help train the dogs in advanced training, give demonstrations, make harnesses, maintain our kennel and property, help with team training and public access tests, and so much more.

This spirit of volunteerism started with our founder, Nancy Fierer, who served as our volunteer director for over 20 years. When Nancy retired, we couldn’t think of a better way to honor that legacy than by creating the Nancy and Robert Fierer Spirit of Volunteerism Award.

We’re pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the award is Dr. Nancy Dreschel, who runs our puppy raising program at Penn State University.

Below is the presentation given by Director Pam Foreman at our annual Graduation and Celebration.

From Pam Foreman:

When an organization like ours has so many talented people dedicated to supporting its mission, it is challenging to identify the most worthy recipient of an award like this.  There are so many people deserving of it and once again we had great nominations. 

We want to say a special thanks to the three people who reviewed the nominations and chose this year’s recipient.  I know they had a hard job. Thank you to Samantha Jacoby, Nick Liermann, and Darrin Silbaugh.

It gives me great pleasure to announce Dr. Nancy Dreschel as the recipient of the second Annual Nancy and Robert Fierer Spirit of Volunteerism Award.

Dr. Dreschel – Nancy – is a Dr. of Veterinary Medicine and Professor of Animal Science at Penn State University.

She began her association with SSD several years ago and is the reason SSD is able to have a Campus Puppy Raising program at Penn State in State College, PA. Because of Nancy’s dedication and extraordinary hours of commitment to our program, we are able to have a strong base of interested, dedicated, and talented puppy raisers in that area. At any given time there are approximately 10 dogs being raised in State College. (Currently there are 11.) In fact, some of the puppies raised by that group of students are graduating tonight.

Nancy is the advisor for the Roar for More club, which is the club that was formulated to support SSD with raisers, education about service dogs, and fundraising efforts. Because of their presence and Nancy’s respected reputation, the club and SSD have become well-known in the area. This visibility has been instrumental for SSD regarding new raisers and fundraising efforts.

The first years of developing this puppy raising program program took quite a bit of blood, sweat, and tears until it was structured in a way that worked for everyone – communication from a distance, necessary support for both Nancy and the raisers and club, vet care, and so on. Nancy’s willingness to hang in there during the challenging times as we muddled through the collaboration is one of the reasons the program is so successful and strong today.

In addition to teaching weekly classes, she oversees special outings and also continues to teach classes through the summer for the raisers that stay in the area. She is the first responder for raisers’ vet concerns and nurtured a lasting and beneficial relationship with a vet clinic in the area who have continued to provide great care for our dogs at a greatly reduced fee.

Nancy also mentors the student raisers and gives them guidance as problems and issues come up while raising – and that guidance and mentoring ends up being in a variety of areas. The students raising at Penn State often express the benefit they get from being part of the program – responsibility, thinking beyond themselves, learning about disabilities, socialization that requires a degree of maturity while having a dog in training, and the ability to educate others about service dogs, persons with disabilities, and about SSD specifically.

Nancy is also the reason that SSD is involved with Dr. Allen, the Director of Mental Health Services, Center for the Protection of Children, Penn State Children’s Hospital and the project and research that Dr. Allen is conducting regarding the benefit of having dogs in counseling sessions for children. Nancy became involved with that study to do her own research on stress levels and the welfare of dogs providing their service in that type of setting.  She remains an integral part in the study, and alongside SSD, has developed a great partnership in this very important research.

Overall, Nancy is the type of person anyone would want on their team. She is personable – everyone likes Dr. D. She is willing to work out the glitches of processes to make things better because she so deeply believes in the work. She provides an enormous amount of hours to SSD’s mission in addition to her already busy schedule as a professor. She is a great resource and mentor for all of SSD’s Roar for More raisers, as well as a tremendous ambassador for SSD in the State College area and beyond.

Nancy has become an essential part of SSD and is deserving of being acknowledged for that work through this Spirit of Volunteerism Award.