17 Dec Volunteer of the Month – December 2018
Each month Retrieving Independence recognizes one of our dedicated volunteers. With a group of more than 50 active volunteers pouring love and training into our service dogs, we are forever indebted and grateful for these people!
This month we’d like you to meet Claudia Parker. Claudia is the Community Outreach Coordinator for RI where she is actively spreading the word about the amazing work of our service dogs!
We hope you enjoy reading her story as told by Claudia herself.
I grew up in Germany and after meeting my husband there who was posted in Frankfurt at the time, I moved to the Severna Park, MD in 1997. We lived there until 2003 until my husband – who works for the Department of State Foreign Service – was starting another overseas tour that took us from Bogota, Colombia to Istanbul, Turkey, then on to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and finally Beirut, Lebanon. So after being on the road for 13 years, we decided to make Franklin our home base and I’ve been living here for 2 years now while my husband is posted to Kabul, Afghanistan.
I’ve always loved animals and have had dogs since I was little. And when I was looking for volunteer opportunities in Franklin, I came across Retrieving Independence by meeting a volunteer with her dog at my vet, and I immediately signed as a volunteer. It has been such a wonderful experience as it fuels my passion in having animals helping people. My furlough dog Peanut recently graduated and seeing him matched with his new recipient and observing the difference he has already made in her life has been one of the best experiences in my life. This program touches and changes the lives of so many involved: from the prison inmates who are training the dogs, the incredibly dedicated staff and volunteers and finally the recipients who are now able to lead better lives because of those specially trained dogs. My ultimate wish is that the program will allow shelter dogs to be trained to become service dogs as helping discarded and unwanted animals and transforming their lives is also one of my greatest desires.
I am truly humbled and honored that I can contribute to RI in just a small fashion and look forward to helping it grow and prosper in its pursuit benefiting even more people who are in need of service dogs.