We have just celebrated a great milestone with the Grand Opening of the newly renovated Guiding Eyes for the Blind Canine Development Center. The vision for a place that supports our groundbreaking work in breeding and early socialization is now a reality, and I couldn’t be prouder of this incredible team effort.
The sunny weather was spectacular and matched the mood of the event, shining through new windows in the morning with an Open House, and the news that we met our overall fundraising goal for this past year.
One of my favorite moments of the day was when Allie, the 8-year-old daughter of Marcie Passarella, Senior Director Global Citizenship & Sustainability for PepsiCo, excitedly helped to cut the ribbon with a pair of giant scissors to honor the PepsiCo Foundation’s giant donation.
Later in the day, guests of the event and the raiser community attended the graduation of the September 2015 Class led by Melinda, which was incredibly inspiring and moving. Graduate speakers Andrew Hasley and Matthew Dierckens spoke poignantly, personifying our mission in action. Please take the time to watch the graduation on YouTube if you missed it (link here). We were all riveted, the energy in the room echoing the importance of what we do – the immediate and profound difference that you make in people’s lives!
On the heels of that inspiration, I returned to the Canine Development Center where the evening sun shined down on us to honor our donor base with a second ribbon-cutting. This time, Phyllis Milton – who gave the largest gift from an individual toward the renovation – helped cut the ribbon, honoring the legacy of her late husband. Arthur Milton’s name appears proudly on the new building.
After a toast to the entire Guiding Eyes community– students, graduates, staff, volunteers, and donors – we toured the new space and our guests learned how carefully we select, breed and begin enriching the human-canine bond.
As if to say “yeah!”, Gus let out his first bark when we finished our tour and went out back where our future guide dogs enjoy a beautiful playground, with puppy doors opening up to the world they will soon master.
I know I speak for us all when I say I am proud to call this space our own. It will undoubtedly continue to allow us to innovate for many years.
Thanks to all of you for making it possible.
Tom Panek, President & CEO