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.
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.