2020 Year In Review
It’s almost impossible to find the right words to describe 2020. While last year was one of the toughest in decades, it also proved how dedicated our staff, volunteers and supporters are to serving America’s veterans and service members.
Creativity from our training team was at an all-time high as they found new ways to serve Warriors throughout the pandemic. From playing tic-tac-toe through the window during social therapy visits at the local VA to hosting weekly Facebook Live events to engage with Warriors at home, the PPH team pushed through to accomplish our mission despite the challenges.
Volunteers helped from home by making toys and connecting with us on social media, and donors made a record number of contributions during Giving Tuesday.
Despite the chaos, hardships and uncertainty we faced last year, you showed up and helped us continue our mission. Here are a few accomplishments from 2020 that we’re most proud of:
813 Hours of Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy®
From Facebook Live to Zoom calls, to all new socially-distanced group sessions, PPH program instructors were still able to host over 800 hours of our unique innovative therapy program for veterans. With guidance from our training staff and supervision from our mental health professional partners, Warriors found healing through helping as they learned what it takes to train a service dog for a fellow comrade.
129 Hours of Social Therapy
During social therapy, PPH dogs-in-training boost Warrior’s spirits with their loving presence. The simple act of petting or gazing into the eyes of a dog can be a great stress reliever. So when the quarantine hit and Warriors could no longer come to visit with our dogs, the Menlo Park team found a new way to connect: window visits.
Even though they weren’t able to pet the pups, Warriors were still able to play games with our dogs through the window and watch as they grew and progressed in training.
159 New Warrior Participants
This year, 159 new service members and veterans participated in our therapy programs, bringing our total to over 1,000 Warriors served to date!
Bring on the puppies!
In 2020, PPH welcomed 10 new puppies to our assistance dog training program: Allan, Andrea, Antje, Arrillaga, Atterbury, Beatrix, Beo, Brook, Chapman and Hicks!
If there is anything more exciting than new puppies-in-training, it’s an assistance dog graduation and 2020 brought us three new graduates! In January, Ralph was placed as a facility dog with a social worker at the San Jose, California VA after two weeks of in-person client training.
Our training and graduation plans changed when COVID-19 hit, but we were still able to place two dogs in September: service dog, Ozzy, and specialist therapy dog, Elma!
Paws for Purple Hearts has now placed 42 assistance dogs and deployed 128 through our Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® program.
Here are a few more highlights from 2020:
We participated in the Washington Football Team’s Salute to Service Program
- PPH Webb, our first facility dog graduate, retired after 9 years of service at the Menlo Park VA
- We raised a record-breaking $19,920 on Giving Tuesday
Despite 2020 bringing us our greatest challenges yet, the PPH team pulled through to support the Warriors we serve. None of it would have been possible without your support.
Continue Your Support in the New Year
2021 marks one decade since Paws for Purple Hearts formally incorporated to focus on its mission to improve the lives of America’s Warriors. While we don’t know what 2021 will bring, we do know that Warriors still need our help. We will be there for them!
Paws for Purple Hearts is a nonprofit organization funded and supported by generous donors and volunteers. If you’d like to make a contribution to help us continue providing free assistance dogs and canine-assisted therapy, or if you would like to learn more about our work, please visit our website.