Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving Thanks for Retiree Rose Ramirez

Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) cook and caretaker Rose Ramirez, who was well known for the amazing care she provided for the students in training, recently retired after working at GDB’s San Rafael campus for over 22 years. From grocery shopping and cooking delicious meals to learning each student’s individual needs and giving gentle pats on the back, Rose proved to be an integral part of the heart and soul of GDB.

GDB Support Center generalist Ken Altenburger has known Rose for over 17 years. “I can honestly say that she is one of the treasures of GDB,” said Ken. “I have been on the receiving end of her care and kindness from a client’s perspective and I also enjoyed working alongside her as a fellow staff member. Rose always greeted you with a warm smile and it was clear that she cared very deeply for the students in each class – she worked tirelessly for the benefit of anyone needing assistance.”

Rose smiles while gently patting a student on the back during lunch (other students and guide dogs are in the background at another table).

Rose moved to the United States from Mexico as a young adult and learned to cook at her brother’s restaurant in Martinez, CA for 15 years before coming to GDB. Rose said she served the students in the best way she knew how in order to make sure they had everything they needed, even if it is small. “Rose is so thoughtful and always remembered everything about you,” said GDB graduate Keith Breaux. “I truly appreciated the way she took care of me during my stay. I will always remember her as being one of the best parts about coming to GDB for training.”

From the students and instructors to the nurses and the rest of the GDB staff, Rose was someone who always made everyone feel welcome. “I was very lucky to work at GDB,” said Rose. “One of my main goals while I was at GDB was to make sure the students were as comfortable as possible. I wanted to make sure it felt like a warm home when they came for training.”

Rose (wearing a beautiful red pattern jacket) poses in the GDB kitchen with freshly baked cookies.

While it can be exciting for students to work with a new partner, there is also the reality of being away from home and family, meeting and working with new people and participating in a comprehensive training experience. “Having the support of someone as warm and caring as Rose took any stress that I had away, said GDB graduate Penny Hardin. “Rose showed genuine concern and interest in our well-being and her cooking was amazing! Her friendly smile and encouragement were constant reminders of how much she cared about us. It’s clear to me that Rose was a very important part of the GDB team who, along with the instructors and nurses, helped us to be successful every day.”

Over the course of more than two decades, Rose has had a tremendous impact at GDB and she will always be remembered for her incredible and thoughtful work ethic. “Some people talk about wanting to serve – Rose truly does serve, every day of her life,” said Ken.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Halloween Costume Contest Goes to the Dogs!

By: Patti Ehle, GDB Utah Alumni Chapter Vice President of Greatest Paws on Earth

This Halloween costume contest clearly went to the dogs. On October 25th, approximately 50 puppy raisers and guide dog users joined together in Salt Lake City, UT for the third year of an outrageous Halloween costume contest. Special thanks to the GDB puppy raising club, Paws to Love, who led the event! Also making an appearance was Lauren Ross, GDB Field Service Manager from Chicago who has been working in Utah with guide dog users this month, and Lauren Grimditch, GDB Community Field Representative, who was there visiting from Colorado.

Guide dog puppy Marigold wears a yellow and orange flower wreath on her head. A young girl in a princess costume is next to Marigold.

puppy raisers Megan and Haley with their puppies Paris, Denmark and Dinah dressed as Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, the three godmothers in Sleeping Beauty.

GDB grad Scott Wilcock and guide dog Senator (black Lab) wears a colorful tie.

Every one of the 25 dogs was dressed and ready to shake a hula skirt or balance a coffee cup on their head for the judges. Everyone had clever costumes like GDB graduate Morris Bowman and his guide Daniel who wore formal wear with real doggie tails. Other highlights from the puppy raisers included: a Star Wars themed dog costume, Little Red Riding Hood, and Kermit the Frog. Puppy raisers Stephanie and Myka dressed Marigold with a marigold flower crown, and Karen Fuller's dog was dressed as a travel brochure. One of the youngest dogs was entered by The Davis family who dressed up Will, a very young Golden Retriever, in a football jersey that said “wide retriever.”

Black Lab puppy Gwen dressed as a coffee with a sleeve and lid as the Starbarks costume (handled by puppy raiser Hannah Thompson dressed as a barista with a green aproon).

Yellow lab puppy Lisbon dressed as a Lisbon travel brochure.

Yellow lab puppy Smitty dressed up with three fellow Star Wars characters.

For the contest, there were 3 categories of costumes: Namesake, Halloween and Team. First place for the Halloween category was Gwen with the Starbarks costume (handled by puppy raiser Hannah Thompson). First place for the Team category was Smitty's Starwars costumes, and first place for the Namesake category was Rocket. The overall costume contest winner went to puppy raisers Megan and Haley with their puppies Paris, Denmark and Dinah dressed as Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, the three godmothers in Sleeping Beauty.

Black lab puppy rocket dressed as a white rocket with black sunglasses and colorful paper flames at the end.

Yellow lab puppy Penne dressed as Little Red Riding Hood looks up at the camera.

Yellow lab puppy Trivia smiles up at the camera dressed as Kermit the Frog.

Prizes ranged from a large dog bed and dog treats to all sorts of dog goodies to make any puppy cheer!  Even a Kindle was a huge surprise to the puppy raiser who excitedly received it. All prizes were generously donated from business like: R.C. Willey, Petsmart, Great Harvest, North American Pet Company, and many other wonderful supporters. Thank you all for coming out in style!

Young yellow lab puppy Will in a black jersey poses with a boy holding a football.

All photos by: Lisa Thompson