Baird Foundation Annual Report 2018 - Page 11

FREEDOM SERVICE DOGS For Debra Nelson, Branch Administrative Manager DENVER at Baird’s Denver PWM branch, her work with Freedom Service Dogs is like puppy therapy. Freedom Service Dogs trains assistance dogs for adults, children, active duty military and veterans with a range of disabilities. In 2016, the Denver branch chose to support the organization during Baird Gives Back Week, and as soon as Debra heard it helped veterans with PTSD, she knew she needed to get involved. A veteran herself, Debra was diagnosed with PTSD after eight years in the Navy. In reflecting upon her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, Debra said, “PTSD is misunderstood and often misdiagnosed or dismissed. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to make it go away. You need to learn to adjust and live life as best you can. This is where Freedom Service Dogs comes in to help.” Since 2016, Debra has volunteered countless hours at the puppy training facility and during special events. In 2018, she joined the board of directors, where she’s the sole female veteran. Baird associates continue to volunteer during Baird Gives Back Week and the Baird Foundation sponsors says Phil. “The pure joy that these athletes experience and several events throughout the year. the joy that we got out of it was wonderful. I was happy to be a “It has only been in the last few months that I have cheerleader with pom-poms for the first time. And I would gladly been able to talk openly about my own personal do it again.” suffering. I can still manage to be around people Like the Games themselves, Baird’s volunteering was a team effort. Seattle branch manager, John Ramseyer, helped recruit volunteers, and branch associates did everything from tracking sign-ups to coordinating the matching shirts and pom-poms. Although the Special Olympics USA Games won’t happen again and out in public, but I can deeply empathize with those who are much worse off than I am,” she says. “Knowing that Freedom Service Dogs is enhancing many lives, helping them become happier and more comfortable in their lives, is extremely fulfilling.” until 2022, Phil plans to stay involved in the Seattle chapter by attending local events. “The Special Olympics is a wonderful organization, and I would encourage any of our Baird colleagues to get involved if they get the opportunity,” John added. 10