Volunteers are a vital part of the Guiding Eyes community. Their dedication and commitment help make our life-changing mission possible. In fact, more than 150 volunteers touch each puppy’s life before formal guide dog training even begins! And for the over 200 dogs that temporarily live in our kennels, a kennel volunteer does more than provide them with care and enrichment, they become a companion and a good friend.
Kimberly Mason’s interest in volunteering at Guiding Eyes for the Blind began seven years ago. As an avid dog lover, she wasn’t ready for one of her own but knew she wanted to volunteer her time to help the organization.
“After volunteering at animal shelters and seeing stories on the news about how poorly animals like dogs can be treated, I knew I wanted to do something to make a difference. I wanted to help educate people about them,” Kimberly explained. “I was interested in Guiding Eyes because they’re not only training guide dogs, but also educating the public on what dogs can do for others and how valuable they are.”
Over the last seven years, Kimberly has dedicated countless hours to Guiding Eyes, from working special events both on and off-site; volunteering as a driver to transport puppies and dogs between our facilities and the regions we serve; and assisting with puppy meet-and-greets as needed. But if you’re looking for Kimberly on a Saturday afternoon, you can usually find her doing what she loves the most – assisting in our training school kennel.
Every other weekend, Kimberly travels to our Yorktown Heights campus to spend quality time with the adult dogs housed in our kennel while they undergo formal guide dog training. She assists with everything from doing dishes, changing bedding, cleaning their living areas, and bringing them outside for playtime. She has even put her sewing skills to use and started making the dogs their very own toys.
“Downtime for these dogs is very important,” Kennel Manager Valerie Quick says. “When our volunteers take them outside, they get to run and play and just be dogs. It keeps them stimulated, happy, and healthy.”
Kennel volunteers are assigned a group of dogs to work with while they’re living in the kennel, so Kimberly spends most of her time with the same dogs every time she visits. She does more than just care for them; she becomes their friend and companion. “Every dog is special, and I want to do anything I can to help people see that.”Guiding Eyes for the Blind would like to extend its sincerest gratitude to Kimberly for her ongoing commitment to our mission, and to all of the hardworking volunteers that make our work possible.
To learn more about the various volunteer opportunities at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, visit https://www.guidingeyes.org/how-to-help/volunteer/.