“Rescuing One To Rescue Another” {Celebration of Service}

Every once in awhile I get the chance to be a part of something that is so much bigger than myself. One of the many blessings that has come my way as a result of starting this blog has been being a (small) part of the service rendered by The Home Depot Foundation. You all know my obsession with Home Depot. My blood runs orange and my heart goes pitter patter at even the mention of its name. After learning a couple of years ago about all the service they do for veterans I loved them even more.

But is was after witnessing first hand the team work and excitement from the Home Depot employees who volunteer their time that I really understood the full effect of the Home Depot Foundation and their Celebration of Service program. Last year was my first experience, and I was thrilled to get to do it again this year :)

Singing the National Anthem all together before we started (picture source: Gene Fleszar)

I was invited to Michigan to help with a service project for a place called Stiggy’s Dogs.

(Photo Source:Gene Fleszar)

Jennifer’s nephew was killed in Afghanistan. She wanted to find a way to honor him so he would never be forgotten. She wanted all veterans to be honored. Her nephew’s  nickname was “Doc Stiggy”. She, along with her husband Joe started Stiggy’s Dogs. It is a place where they  train rescue dogs to be service dogs that will be paired with Veterans that suffer from  Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

(Jen is hold a bobble head Frank Blake doll. I NEED to get me one of those!!! Plus, the proceeds go to help HD employees who are struggling financially for whatever reason. I LOVE that!)

I was shocked and amazed at all the things they can train these dogs to do. The thing that surprised me the most was that the dogs can be trained to remember certain times. Like for instance, if a vet needs help remembering when to take his medication. They are also trained to sense the vets stress levels and know when to wake them from a nightmare.

We were honored to meet several of the veterans that have already been paired with service dogs. Their stories were incredible. To hear how their lives were before verses after receiving a dog was unbelievable. I WISH YOU ALL COULD HAVE BEEN THERE TO HEAR because I will never be able to do their stories justice.

Okay, because I am crying all over again remembering, I am switching gears a bit.

I met the CEO of Home Depot, Frank Blake! Eeeeeeek!  (Deep breaths Stacy, deep breaths…) I don’t get star struck often. In fact I don’t even really remember a time I was star struck unless you count Mickey Mouse when I was 7 year old. But DUDE! I was so excited/nervous to meet Frank.

Confession: I am a Home Depot nerd. I know almost all there is to know about Home Depot. As in I read their press releases, I have read the founders’ book Built From Scratch, and I know a little too much about Frank Blake than a normal HD customer should. So meeting Frank was HUGE for me. I tried to keep it on the down low and act cool but I don’t think I did a very good job considering I sat by him at breakfast, and stood by him in all the group shots…….

(picture source: Gene Fleszar)

Bloggers who attended Ashley and Jamin(Handmade Home), Dan (Military Avenue), Kierstie (Brown Paper Packages), Frank Blake, Me, Emily (Decor Chick), Traci (Beneath My Heart), Lori (Witty Little Secret), Gail (My Repurposed Life), Rachel (Lovely Crafty Home), Kris (The New Normal), Diane (In My Own Stlye) and Trisha (24/7 Moms).

He is hilarious, by the way. I was not expecting that. The moment he said “crap” I knew we were meant to be BFFs. And when he said “Just sayin'” I thought the other bloggers were going to die laughing.  He is one of the nicest people I have ever met and you can tell by the way he talks that he TRULY believes in what Home Depot is doing.

Okay, I was not meaning to go off on such a big Frank tangent (okay, maybe I was)!

(picture sources: Gene Fleszar)

The property is actually Jennifer’s husband’s childhood home. They bought it and turned it into the training facility. They train the dogs alone for a certain amount of time and then they invite the veteran to come and stay to be able to train with the dog. Up until now they did not have a designated place for the veteran to sleep. Part of what happened inside the home was turning the dining room into a bedroom. They also added a fence, landscaped, gutted the downstairs and redid everything including the kitchen, built benches, built picnic benches that were wheelchair accessible, added a deck to the front porch complete with a ramp, added an apartment to the basement for the trainer, built a dock by the lake, and SO MUCH MORE!!! It really is a retreat for the veteran. There is about 8 acres of gorgeous land with two ponds and hiking trails.

The day we were there was not the first (nor will it be the last) that Home Depot employees were at Stiggy’s Dogs helping. Earlier in the year they planted a giant garden and built a fence around it. Some of us blogger were able to help weed and clear out the plants that were done producing for the year.

(picture source: Gene Fleszar)

I also painted, helped with the deck, made some energy efficient changes to the home, and landscaped around the building.

I loved seeing the bloggers that I had already met and meeting new blogging friends. We will be able to help even more with The Home Depot Foundation in the coming months. I am looking forward to doing more!!!

The Home Depot partnered with bloggers such as me for their Celebration
of Service Blog Network. As part of this program, I received compensation
for my time (ie. travel, accommodation). They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about
any product mentioned in these posts. The Home Depot believes that consumers
and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their
own words. The Home Depot’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC
guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

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  1. says

    What a great foundation and a great opportunity for people to help those that have done so much for our country. My nephew was shot in the head while serving in Afghanistan a couple years ago. His progress has been slow but steady. He’s had numerous surgeries, but will probably never be the same. His wife and daughter are doing well though and bought their first house a few months ago. What a great opportunity to serve! (and I’m glad you got to meet someone you admire so much)

    • Stacy says

      Oh Leanne! I will pray that things get better (and faster) for your nephew. His wife must be such a strong lady. Thank you for your sweet comment :)

  2. says

    The newspaper article didn’t say enough about the program or take enough pictures. You did a much better job with both..:) I think it is so cool what Home Depot is doing for the program, because I really don’t think many people in our area know anything about it. Thanks for posting more of the story and some great pics!

    • Stacy says

      Thank you. I think people need to know there are programs like Stiggy’s Dogs available so if they know of a vet that is struggling they can look into it for them. I hope this helps in some way :)

  3. Shannon says

    We finished our basement last summer, and home depot was so great. We’d go and look cluelessly at the doors or the insulation, and someone (often a woman!) would come and tell us everything we needed to know.

    How great that they support/participate in service!

    • Stacy says

      Wahooo! Girl power :) I get help from women there all the time too. The free tile class I took a few Saturdays ago was taught by a tile expert that was a woman :)

  4. says

    Stacy, what a great post–that’s so cool! Thanks so much for sharing and I’m headed to some of your other posts right now! :) You’ve got some posts that are calling my name, lol!
    Thanks again and thanks to Home Depot–I’m super impressed! :D

  5. says

    I’m so happy I got to see you again Stacy, and hang out doing such fun stuff. We’re lucky that we get to do these type of things, then spread the word!
    Great post! Hope to see you soon,
    from one HUGE orange fan to another….

  6. says

    LOVE Home Depot and now I do even more. We’ve bought everything for remodeling our house there and have been really pleased with things. It’s so good to know all that money isn’t just money in the bank. Big-wigs should be helping out and I”m so glad you for to participate!

  7. says

    What an amazing opportunity! My heart beats fast whenever I get the chance to serve! My blood also runs Orange.. and I actually like them more now, that I know they participate in things like this!
    good for you sweets!!!

  8. says

    I LOVE what they do as an organization. As a true believer in the value of the right dog and the right person (I’ll tell you about our son, his autism and dogs) and our lives since. We have 3 standard poodles, the ones that run about 50 lbs. Want a laugh? Hubs calls HD the BORG (a waste on you unless you’re a Trekie) Big Orange Retail Giant). Keep up the good work.

    • Stacy says

      One of my favorite parts of the whole thing was where they talked about the dog choosing the vet. They don’t just give them any dog. It really is a careful process. I think that is such a vital thing. And your hubby cracks me up…. and I am not even a trekie :P

  9. Maureen says

    I think it is so wonderful that Home Depot supports our Veterans in this way, but also that you and all the other bloggers involved have given your time, talent and voice to such worthwhile causes. In a world where “bad” news is all too prevalent, it is nice to hear some good news for a change. Thanks for the good works you do!

  10. Pam the Goatherd says

    Thanks for your part in helping people that need it!
    On a more personal note, I wish I had known where you were going to be. I live about an hour and a half drive from there and would have been thrilled to make the drive to come see you. I would have even wielded a hammer/screwdriver to help out! Oh well…

  11. says

    Thanks for making me get all teary-eyed! Thank you for sharing the good that Home Depot is doing. I am a loyal customer (shout out to Tom in the American Fork, Utah Home Depot – he encourages me to DIY, gives me tips on how, and gets excited when I come in and tell him about my past project while picking up supplies for a new one!) Knowing that HD has a charitable attitude makes me warm and fuzzy inside. Our vetrans don’t get enough praise for all they do, so I hope for much success at Stiggy’s Dogs!!!

  12. says

    What a wonderful project! I can’t believe how many projects Home Depot is doing for Veterans around the country right now. It’s not just the money but the amassing of volunteers and community outreach that I find so impressive- above and beyond the call of duty for sure.

    That said, I must admit a bit of a bias as they helped out on a community-built playground project we had going in our community a few years back. I sincerely hope your post inspires others to experience what it is to labor hard for the benefit of another. It is clear that you gained much from the experience. Imagine how much collective good we could do if we all took advantage of such an opportunity? Goodness knows Home Depot and non-profits are helping to ensure the opportunities exist if we will but give a few hours of our own time and expertise!

    • Stacy says

      That is my hope in writing these type of posts too. I LOVE service and if I can make even one person want to run out and look for ways to serve I would be happy. Okay, I totally just sounded like a beauty pageant contestant giving a cheesy answer…… But it is true :P