• Southeastern Guide Dogs Honors 2017 volunteers at appreciation banquet

    Exceptional puppy raisers and campus volunteers thanked for transforming the lives of veterans and the visually impaired


    (May 1, 2017)-Palmetto, Fla., At Southeastern Guide Dogs, we’re thankful for an army of almost 1,000 volunteers that make it possible for us to better serve our students and graduates. Because of their support of our mission, we can continue offering a lifeline of freedom and independence for the visually impaired and veterans— at no charge.

    At the recent volunteer awards banquet, O’Kane recognized more than 15 volunteers inducted into the Good Samaritan Society, meaning they have volunteered in excess of 1,000 hours or more for Southeastern Guide Dogs. The highest achievement comes from Marge Vita, manager of the on-campus gift shop, who has given 7,500 hours of service to the organization over the past seven years.

    “Our Volunteers assist staff all over the organization, working with the puppies and older dogs or helping our administrative staff in a wide variety of positions at our main campus in Palmetto,” said Lisa O’Kane, director, volunteer services. “They are are as different as can be in personalities, backgrounds, and talents, yet they all have something in common: generous hearts.”

    The Puppy Raiser of the Year Award went to Kathy Saunders, area coordinator for the West Pinellas Puppy Raisers. Saunders is a very active fundraiser and financial supporter, who has overseen the growth and development of 48 future superhero puppies, while also raising six at her own St. Petersburg home. In 2016, she established a Puppy Raiser Club at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Effective in August, the college will allow students to raise puppies in a designated campus dorm.

    Anyone interested in volunteering for Southeastern Guide Dogs should check out the possibilities on the website: GuideDogs.org.


    1. Volunteer Larry France joined the ranks of the Good Samaritan Society – this year he had 2,300+ hours, when last year at the volunteer banquet he had not made his first 1,000. Left to right: Lisa O’Kane, director of volunteer services for Southeastern Guide Dogs; volunteer Larry France and directror of human services Shannon Starline.

    2. Southeastern Guide Dogs graduate Frank Goossens with his guide Ruby spoke to volunteers about his new life experience at the volunteer appreciation banquet.

    About Southeastern Guide Dogs

    Southeastern Guide Dogs transforms lives by creating and nurturing extraordinary partnerships between people and dogs. Employing the latest in canine development and behavior research, the national organization trains guide dogs, service dogs and companion dogs for people living with significant challenges including those with visual impairments and veterans with disabilities.

    All of Southeastern Guide Dogs’ services – which include selective breeding and expert dog training; comprehensive on-campus student instruction; and lifetime graduate follow-up – are provided at no cost to the recipients. The charity relies 100% on private donations and receives no government funding. Southeastern Guide Dogs has the distinction of being dually accredited by the two premier, global accreditation bodies: the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. www.GuideDogs.org