Humanitarian Award for Margie Coccodrilli
King Farm Community newsletter – 01/31/2008
Margie Coccodrilli, dedicated volunteer and current raiser of Napa, received the Humanitarian Award for 2007 issued by the King Farm Community Association in Rockville, Maryland. Co-Region Coordinator Jo McCain proudly reports that Margie has raised 5 puppies for the Montgomery Region, is in charge of the public relations and recruitment for the region, is a major fund raiser through her own personal efforts, teaches pre-puppy placement classes year round, publishes the Montgomery newsletter and spends countless hours with other various duties. She has been involved with Guiding Eyes for about 8 years.
King Farm Community newsletter
For her tireless work with the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Montgomery County Chapter, puppy-raiser and Saddle Ridge Lane resident Margie Coccodrilli is being honored this year with the King Farm Humanitarian award.
Coccodrilli became an active volunteer puppy raiser in September 1999. “I fortuitously went to the Safeway store in Darnestown where a vendor table was being staffed by two puppy raisers and two young Labrador retrievers and who can resist petting a little puppy?,” said Coccodrilli. “Dogs have always been a part of our household, so stopping at a table with dogs was nothing unusual for me.”
As it turned out, the table that Coccodrilli stopped at was advertising and recruiting for the newly established Montgomery Region Chapter of Guiding Eyes for the Blind (GEB), whose national headquarters in located in Yorktown Heights, NY.
“I knew within ten minutes of hearing about this non- profit’s mission and goals – to enrich the lives of blind and visually impaired persons – was something that I wanted to help out with,” said Coccodrilli. “I could certainly commit one year to loving, nurturing and teaching one dog and I didn’t want to look back on life and think “would of, could of, should of.”
The one year commitment that Coccodrilli intended to serve has since turned into an eight year passion or obsession as she likes to call it. “In addition to puppy raising, I am an instructor to new volunteer raisers, write our local region’s newsletter, do fundraising, and coordinate local vendor table activities,” said Coccodrilli. “However, none of this could be successfully accomplished within the help of my husband, Lou, and his commitment to my commitment.” “The King Farm Humanitarian Award is presented to an individual who has volunteered their time to help others in social service,” said King Farm President Andy Gordon. “Anyone who walks a dog in King Farm knows Margie and her dogs, especially Winsome. Her dedication to her dogs and Guiding Eyes make her a truly remarkable neighbor and we are proud to name her this year’s Humanitarian.”
“We enjoy living in the King Farm community for just that reason, community,” said Coccodrilli. “The area permeates with a sense of community, unity and belonging. Everyone is friendly and you sense that others are very glad to be a part of the community as well. The King Farm Association makes every effort to ensure its residents a safe environment and focuses on the needs of its residents in coordinating community activities for all ages.”
Coccodrilli is the proud mother of two grown children, Lynn who lives in Clarendon, VA and Scott who also lives in King Farm, as well and one 4-year old granddaughter, Sophia. “We have one 6-year old black lab, Winsome, who was our second Guiding Eyes dog to be trained, but eventually he was released from the program and adopted by us,” said Coccodrilli. “Winsome just chose a different “career path” and is a wonderful Guiding Eyes ambassador by helping out at our fund raising vendor tables, and serving as a student assistant with our pre- puppy placement training classes.”
While 2007 has been a busy year for Coccodrilli, 2008 will be even busier. “The New Year will see a continuation of my passionate obsession as a volunteer with GEB-Montgomery Region. Perhaps the King Farm residents will see yet another dog in training as we stroll through the community. Our fourth dog, Cindy, will be graduating from Guiding Eyes for the Blind in January. Our current dog in training, Napa, will complete her stay with us in March and return to New York for further training; we wish her the best in her career choice. In April, I will be helping to coordinate a Guide Dog Consortium 2008 meeting to be hosted by Maryland Area Guide Dog Users, Inc., to be held at the King Farm Community Center. The goals of this meeting will be to bring together Maryland guide dog users and puppy raisers, along with local and state law enforcement agencies to discuss issues still confronting the general public’s concerns about service dogs – both working and in training,” said Coccodrilli.
When asked what she enjoys most about her time volunteering, Coccodrilli simply says, “The greatest accomplishment that can be gleaned from this volunteer service is the knowledge of knowing that I have helped, in some small way, to nurture, love and teach these wonderful dogs in reaching their potential as they embark on their journey to becoming a future guide dog.”
Coccodrilli said she is honored to have been nominated as one of this year’s award recipients. “It is truly wonderful that the King Farm community has taken the time to recognize the significance of my volunteer services with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The dogs in training, however, are truly the unsung heroes in this journey,” she smiles.