27 Mar Volunteer of the month – March 2019
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 Kristen Yost. Kristen is the Volunteer Puppy Coordinator for RI, where she leads our puppy raising initiatives and works to make sure they ready for their service dog training!
We hope you enjoy reading her story as told by Kristen herself.
Tell us a bit about yourself (where you grew up, any animals that meant a lot to you, work you do, family, etc.)
I grew up in balmy Cleveland, Ohio and bounced around a few midwestern cities until settling in Nashville with my husband Kyle, boxer mix Swarley, and cats Tai and Arya in 2016. I attended The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) for my undergraduate degree and Cleveland State University for my Master’s in Occupational Therapy. I am a pediatric OT and currently work remotely serving a school district in Alaska! I spend a lot of my free time hanging from the ceiling on a silk as I teach aerial dance and fitness classes for children and adults at So Fly Studioin Mt. Juliet and a member of the community dance group fp2 lab.
Last summer, I left my full-time OT job due to changes in my physical health and began to get discouraged when finding a new
position took longer than I had hoped it would. I decided to channel my energy into volunteering while waiting for the right career opportunity to pan out. My thought process went something like this, “Hmm, what do I enjoy? I like animals. I like helping people. Animals…helping people? Service animals!” I googled “service animals Nashville” and quickly found RI. I put in an application and the timing was perfect as Hope had just had a litter of puppies!
In what ways have you supported RI’s mission? Volunteering, fundraising, etc.
I began volunteering with RI as Chance’s puppy raiser last year. As the end of puppy raising drew to a close, I yearned for a way to stay connected and involved in RI beyond my future furlough weekends with Chance. Once Chance went into Turney, I assumed the role of Puppy Coordinator. Now, I am involved with recruiting puppy raisers, assembling puppy raising teams and monitoring each puppy’s experiences in raiser homes. I will also take on a greater role in making sure our breeder families have everything they need once we’re ready to bring more puppies into the RI program. I also serve as Chance’s furlough team leader and an active puppy sitter for the precious Sheepadoodles we have in raiser homes.