Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, we received this tribute to one of GDB's most dedicated and long-standing volunteers. At this time of year, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude for ALL of our volunteers, whether they've been with us for 5 months or 50 years. Without you, we couldn't provide our free services and make a difference in the lives of so many. So to all of our volunteers this holiday season, thank you. And to Gwen Reimann, congratulations on nearly 50 years as a member of our family.
By puppy raiser Mary Ann Epstein
Gwen Reimann, leader of “Diamonds in the Ruff” puppy raisers of Los Angeles County, was the guest of honor at a surprise celebration earlier this month to honor her many years of service as a GDB volunteer. The celebration was held in Sycamore Canyon Park in Diamond Bar, Calif., and Gwen’s GDB friends and fellow puppy raisers, past and current, contributed pages and photos to make a huge scrapbook of GDB puppy memories. Known for her sunny disposition and outgoing, friendly personality, Gwen was thanked for her dedication, patience, guidance, encouragement and helpfulness.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Gwen was introduced to Guide Dogs for the Blind by a childhood friend. Later, when Gwen and her husband Jack moved to San Rafael, within walking distance of GDB's California campus, it was just natural that she would volunteer. Of course like most campus volunteers, she yearned for the coveted job of puppy tester! But there was a long waiting list because there was (and still is) rarely an opening. In the meantime, Gwen accepted any job GDB gave her, including stuffing envelopes. She was around so much and got to know everyone; the first of the many guided tours she gave of the campus came one day when she had to wing it and do the job in a pinch. As the story goes, she excelled at the task, and there was no looking back. Eventually, she was rewarded with that special job of puppy testing. It was a sad day years later when she announced to GDB that her husband was being transferred to Los Angeles and she couldn’t volunteer for on campus anymore.
She learned, however, that she could still volunteer for GDB while in Los Angeles, but under the auspices of 4-H which was responsible for the youth puppy raising program at the time. When Jack and Gwen settled in Diamond Bar in 1970, Gwen contacted Connie Henry of Los Angeles puppy raisers and volunteered. She also met and helped out with the puppy station wagon (now the puppy truck) when it came south to deliver pups. Eventually she was asked to be a leader of Pomona Valley 4-H puppy raisers. For a long time the group was affectionately known as “Gwen’s Group” which met in Diamond Bar. Then in the late 90s the group adopted the name “Diamonds in the Ruff” suggested by Dan Wheeler.
2010 marks Gwen’s 40th anniversary of volunteering for 4-H in Los Angeles County and near 50 years of volunteering for GDB.