ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Over half a million dollars has been donated to Saint Francis Service Dogs (SFSD) in a major contribution that will help the organization continue services during the pandemic, as well as benefit their training programs and services.
Early in the pandemic, the board of directors as well as the training staff at SFSD, realized the need for an outdoor space to safely continue training puppies, dogs and their partners.
Quickly, the need became an idea that is now a reality courtesy of Jo Jynn Draper, a long-time friend of the organization who has been a part of SFSD for over a decade.
SFSD says Draper has served on many committees and currently serves on the board of directors and has provided support to operational initiatives and capital projects over the last several years.
The outdoor space was envisioned and planned last year by the board and its staff.
With this gift, as well as supporting gifts from other board members, the 1,500 square-food Draper Woody and Jo Lynn Draper Pavilion now exists on the property which is nestled into a hillside by the kennels.
“It is a beautiful structure. An idea born in COVID to help us weather the pandemic, it has become another wonderful venue and operations space that helps us maximize the potential of our property as we sort out our path forward, now and for years to come. We are now better prepared to serve our partners and continue our operations no matter what the future holds. Why? Because people like Jo Lynn step up when we need them – as they do, again and again.”Cabell Youell, Executive Director of Saint Francis Service Dogs
The pavilion will be used as a home to puppy classes, training classes, volunteer organizations, candidate classes for future partners, matching interviews where people are meeting their service dogs for the first time, or partner classes where teams can brush up on their commands or learn new commands as health needs change.
SFSD is a nonprofit organization that helps children and adults with disabilities become more independent and self-sufficient through a partnership with a professionally-trained service dog.
Since the organization’s inception, they have placed 161 service dogs to assist people with a wide range of disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, joint and/or muscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and many other conditions.
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