When I started at college as a 52 year old last fall, I was scared to death. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the 18-year-olds with me. One of them stood out immediately to me. Her name is Monika (pronounced MoNIKa) and she is pretty keen on her name being pronounced correctly! Monika was very helpful to me personally, she helped with notes and when it came time for finals she organized and led a group study for one of our classes. In short, using my vernacular, Monika is an “asset.”
Because we have some generous donors, we are in a position to hire a Summer Intern and I asked Monika if she would be interested. She has already helped out with some non-profit organizations in New Haven and I know her work ethic in unquestionable, so when she responded that she’d like to be a part of our crew, I was quite happy.
One of the things I love most about Monika is that her story is an American story. I am a very patriotic guy and when I hear stories like hers, it makes me feel good about our nation. Her Father hails from Kosovo and her Mother from Poland. They both immigrated to the US and work pretty hard in their community of Brooklyn, NY. She has two siblings, one just graduating college and another in high school. Monika is very soft spoken and chooses her words very careful. Something I admire. She also does not, and I’m very serious here, suffer fools.
For that reason, she will be working most closely with Emily, Annemarie, and Paige!
I want to thank Monika and her family for showing us the American dream and contributing to our nation, and for Monika, especially, for being a great example to me and for being part of our “pack” this Summer.
This week I am keen to point out the “grey man.” The guy who does so much work behind the scenes, that it is difficult to translate to you how much he does.
Dave Villaflor has been a volunteer since the beginning of Spike’s K9 Fund and has since become a part-time paid employee. It is unfair to call his contribution “part-time” because he is responsible for much. He helped set up and run our online store. He helps with the web-page. He keeps track of all of the items in our store. He ensures that the shipping is taken care of, and he addresses any problems that our supporters might have with things they’ve ordered from us.
Additionally, he has to navigate my insanity! In short, Dave just flat gets sh*t done, and never asks for any accolades. He is one of the big reasons we are as successful as we’ve been.
Thanks Dave. I am very grateful for you and your commitment to Spike’s K9 Fund.
This pandemic is an opportunity to see how the people around you react to stress. I’m around some pretty amazing folks and one of them is our “Communications Asset” who also works full time as a K9 Officer.
Her name is Annemarie. She is dedicated to her family, her Dogs, her work as a Police Officer and, fortunately for us, her work with Spike’s K9 Fund.
I admire her and those like her, who make a very significant commitment to our community.
The times are tough for many people. Crime has increased. People need help. Annemarie and those who wear the badge, step up for all of us and I want her and them, to know that we appreciate their dedication and work on our behalf.
As you go to sleep tonight, say a little prayer (or if you don’t pray, send kind thoughts) for those out there who are working to keep our communities and thus, all of us, safe.
I’m home enjoying the time I have to do my schoolwork and play with my dogs. Mina, my faithful companion at school is still by my side as are her sisters, Lola and Pearl. Here are some photos-
I’m a dog person and I know most of you who support us are as well. It is pretty amazing to see how many people are out walking their dogs in the morning and I am guessing that they (your dogs) are helping you like mine are helping me while we live this different type of lifestyle.
There are many difficulties right now, so I will keep this short; I merely want to say hello, we are here continuing our mission supporting the K9’s and their human handlers and communities through this challenging period. We know that the K9’s we support are part of the group who don’t have a “stay at home” requirement. They are out there doing tough things and for that, we are grateful.
Please check out our fundraising workout that is coming up and please ensure you are taking good care of yourselves and your people. We need to take care of each other ALL of the time, but during difficult times like this, it is especially important.
If you see a first-responder out doing their business, give them a wave and let them know you are grateful. If they have a K9, please let them know about Spike’s K9 Fund.
Today is the 2 year anniversary of Paige Widener working at Spike’s K9 fund. Paige is a very potent young lady. She handles our social media strategy and helps us communicate our accomplishments and needs and capabilities as an organization, to our supporters and potential recipients. She also helps us spend our advertising $ more efficiently. Her work has helped us save a significant amount of capitol while simultaneously driving better online store sales and community engagement. I don’t want to praise her too much, because I want to keep her with us! Paige, thank you so very much for blessing us with your poise, smarts, and significant work ethic. Happy Spike’s anniversary! 🙏🏼
Today I returned from New Haven CT. where I moved out of my apartment because all of the classes at Yale are now being done online. I was pretty sad about the whole thing initially and then I remembered from my time in the military that I really have so little control over the things that go on around me. In fact, the only thing I can control is how I react to those things. I am very enthusiastic to be back in class with my fellow students and to discuss the great books together. It will be different online, but it will still be great to see them and my professors and we will all do our best to make it work. I need to concentrate on being an asset to those around me. If I can keep that focus, things will be good.
It is the same thing with Spike’s K9 Fund. We have some big plans for the upcoming months and we will have to sort them out and do our best to coordinate those events with everyone’s safety in mind. It is frustrating because we know so little about how things will go and we have to plan for the worst-case in order to protect those among us who are most susceptible to the nastiness of covid-19. Here is a link that was sent to me by the smart people at Yale regarding the virus. There are some very good links on that page.
We have received quite a few donations to help the working Dogs and we are amazed and grateful at how generous people have been during this time of uncertainty. I will be doing a few videos here and there and if you have any questions you’d like me to answer or details you’d like me to address regarding Spike’s K9 Fund, send us a message and I will try to answer them for you. Send an email here: email@example.com
Mostly, I wish you and your families and loved ones, health and peace during this tough time of uncertainty. I know from experience in gunfights and many periods of uncertainty in combat, that the team who cares for one another and keeps their focus when things are difficult, is almost always successful. We consider you our “Spike’s Pack” and we are grateful for you and want the best for you and yours.
Today is International Women’s Day. At Spike’s K9 Fund, the women dominate. We have three women who collectively do the lions share of the work to keep us running. Here is a recent (unauthorized, I’ll pay later) photo from one of our weekly meetings.
Emily, the Director of Operations (center), keeps the wheels on the bus. Annemarie (your right) a full-time Police K9 Officer, works part-time as our communications asset. Paige Widener (your left) is our exceptional social media pro. We have two women on our Board; Cathy Duncan and Kim Wheeler, and have both been with us from the beginning. Their poise and professionalism have helped guide our organization to the place we are today.
At Yale, where I am a freshman, I’m taught by women and I go to classes where the women outnumber the men. After spending time in many parts of the world where women are not allowed or encouraged to go to school, it warms my heart to see those classes.
Finally, we have quite a few women volunteers who passionately help us execute our mission in advocating for the K9’s. They help us in raising $, fitting K9’s for protective equipment, talking to members of their community and helping us build K9 obstacle courses. Without those passionate women, we could not operate.
The more that women influence our world, the better it will get.
The last few days have been spent doing speeches in the New Haven and Stony Creek area of Connecticut. We met quite a few people and we were able to make some connections and sell some books and swag. Additionally, we have shared the message taught to me by the people who set me on this trajectory. It is important to me that I remember how I got here. How is that? I got here because my friends and complete strangers stepped in and helped me out when I had essentially given up. It makes me happy when we have the opportunity to share that story and even more happy when it provides an opportunity for us to help some of the K9’s that protect our communities.
I hope you have a good week and I hope if there are any of you reading this that are struggling, that you reach out for help. Sometimes things seem hopeless, but feelings are temporary and you never know where the future will take you. 10 years ago I was in a whole different world. If you have someone in your life who is struggling, step up and help them. You don’t have to be a mental health professional, you just have to show that you care and that you are there.
“Never underestimate your ability to affect the trajectory of another human life, especially in their most vulnerable moments.”