Lives changed by volunteering

This post was written by Angela Bertolino, Alexandra Amsden,
Katharine Amsden, and Isabel Amsden

The Bertolino/Amsden family is picturedwith Blair Reels and his assistance dogRadar, who they helped to train.

The Bertolino/Amsden family is pictured with Blair Reels and his assistance dog Radar, who they helped to train.

Most people travel through their life never realizing all they have and never giving back. I have never lived that way and I didn’t want my children to grow up that way. I wanted them to understand a world outside of themselves and appreciate all the blessings we have, including the simplest of blessings: waking up each day with our family and being able to care for ourselves.

Our experience with NEADS over the last 4 years has touched each of my three children and myself in measures I could have never dreamed. My children, now 7, 9, 11 and I have worked with eight dogs as weekend puppy raisers. The simple act of stepping out into the sometimes unwelcoming world with a dog has taught me and my girls to stand up for ourselves and the rights of those with a service animal. It has also reminded me of the surprising impact an animal can have on just about anyone. I like to call us ambassadors to the NEADS organization. We walk through the world teaching people about the healing ability of animals and the importance of their place in our society. We give ourselves purpose through the purpose of NEADS.

Two years ago we had some personal experiences that caused our lives to change dramatically and now we needed a healing calming force. It was one of our NEADS dogs who gave us purpose and just like with NEADS recipients, gave us a reason to put our feet on the floor each morning. Our NEADS family was now comforting us, sending their positive messages of courage and strength to us. I could have never predicted such a challenging series of events in our lives and certainly would never have predicted we would be the recipients of the very care we have strived to give over the last four years. The people of NEADS have become part of our extended family and people we refer to lovingly in our home. We are all proud to be a part of the NEADS family and grow with each dog we help to raise.

One thought on “Lives changed by volunteering

  1. Alexandra – your story touched me deeply. How typical it is that something in life turns “helpers” into “needing help” and your lives of giving to others produce the avenue for your receiving the gift that you needed. We have a Therapy Dog for the Ministry, so naturally I turned your story into “God’s gift to you and your girls.” As you have helped others, God saw fit to help you. God bless you, your girls, and your good works for others.
    Lynda Fisher, Mosby’s Mom

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