GDB Puppy Raiser Elizabeth Kaufmann recently received the President's Call to Service Award for 4,000 hours or more of volunteer service over a lifetime and the Gold Level President's Volunteer Service Award for 250 or more hours to a single organization in a year. For each award she received a pin, a certificate and a letter from President Barack Obama!
In addition to recognition from the President, her parents described what else she received in return for her volunteer efforts in an email to her club leader Diane Shindler:
Elizabeth wanted 4-H and Guide Dogs for the Blind to know that she's pleased to have an award recognizing the incredible time and commitment it takes to raise Guide Dog puppies. She'd also like you to know how much this has changed her life, too. "Diane, I'm sure you remember how shy Elizabeth used to be. When she attended our first Guide Dogs for the Blind meeting 8 ½ years ago, she was hesitant to speak to anyone. You have always made sure that the meetings and outings were a fun and safe environment for the youth as well as the pups, so Elizabeth was encouraged to stick with it. Through years of bringing guide puppies to public places, she found herself being approached by strangers constantly.
Eventually, she became accustomed to speaking with others. When Elizabeth was in middle school it was so wise of you as a leader to give her the job of Hospitality, requiring her to welcome newcomers to our group. It's incredible to us that she has worked her way through all the leadership positions and is now in her second run as co-president, leading monthly meetings and helping train new members. And the two-week internship in the Veterinary Clinic at GDB this summer was an extraordinary opportunity for intellectual and personal growth.
Through raising Guide Dogs, Elizabeth has gained an understanding of and compassion for [people with] physical disabilities. She is learning how to walk the fine line of accommodating differences without patronizing.
People often ask Guide Dog raisers, "Isn’t it hard to give up these puppies?" She honestly answers, "I am raising this pup for someone else who needs her more. When I speak with blind people and hear about how a guide has changed their lives, it confirms why I do this."
Brett & Laura Kaufmann