Photo: SFSD Facebook

A major Hampton Roads employer has awarded a grant to Roanoke-based Saint Francis Service Dogs, demonstrating that its reach goes far beyond the valley. The grant from Newport News Shipbuilding is enough to train and prepare a service dog, a process that takes tens of thousands of dollars over a two-year period. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story:

NEWS RELEASE: Saint Francis Service Dogs has been awarded a grant from Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, to support its work training service dogs for children and adults with disabilities.

Saint Francis Service Dogs is a secular 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization whose purpose is to assist children and adults with disabilities to become more independent and self-sufficient through partnership with a professionally trained service dog. Since 1996, Saint Francis Service Dogs has placed over 140 service dogs to assist individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, joint and/or muscular diseases, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, paralysis, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other conditions. The grant was made possible through Newport News Shipbuilding’s Corporate Citizenship program which
supports initiatives focused on education and workforce development; health, wellness, safety, and human services; inclusion and diversity; and environmental stewardship.
“Newport News Shipbuilding welcomes the opportunity to partner with Saint Francis Service Dogs,” said Gary Artybridge, manager of community relations for Newport
News Shipbuilding.” This grant will help make life-changing impacts on local residents facing severe health challenges and further the company’s philanthropic interest in promoting the total well -being of our community.” Saint Francis Service Dogs does not charge recipients for service dogs. Saint Francis does not receive government funds or insurance reimbursements but relies solely on the generosity of individuals , corporations, and foundations for support.
The Newport News Shipbuilding investment will provide operational funds required to obtain, raise, train, and place a service dog with a child or an adult with a disability
or a professional working in a health care, courtroom or education setting. “We are deeply grateful for the generous support from Newport News Shipbuilding. It takes two years and tens of thousands of dollars to raise and train a single Saint Francis Service Dog. This support will help change the lives of people with disabilities in ways both simple and profound. On behalf of all those whose lives will be invigorated and spirits uplifted by your generosity, thank you.”
Cabell Youell,
Executive Director.