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October 18, 2010
1 person found this review helpful

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October 18, 2010
1 person found this review helpful

As a guide dog user myself, I can honestly say that Southeastern Guide Dogs is one of the finist traning facilities in the USA. The entire staff work hard to see to it that not only do the dogs get the best training and treatment afforded but that the students and graduates are their number one concern. The grounds are set up to train for every situation and the students go through a series of different sceniros in order to assure that they can handle anything they come across in the real world working with their guide dog as a team. The school has people there to help even before you start your training to counsel you on what you need to do in order to obtain a guide dog, how to do it, and what is involved. Then once you have graduated they have a team of GAC (Graduate Advisory Council) that is there 24/7/365 to assist with any problems or questions you may have. I would have to say this is the number one school for anyone looking to get a guide dog and proud to say that I am a graduate myself.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I am a graduate from this school in June 2007 and have been a guide dog user for several years now. I also serve on the GAC and look forward to doing more for them in the future.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More PR, newspaper and club interviews and speakings. Bring in the public around the area and do a annual showing of the facilities and how the training is done and how the students live and learn on campus.

September 23, 2009
1 person found this review helpful

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September 23, 2009
1 person found this review helpful

I have been a guide dog user for all my adult life. Over the years, I’ve had dogs from two schools. By far the best dogs I’ve had have been my last five – all Southeastern Guide Dogs. The level of training of these dogs is remarkable. Their personalities, temperament and abilities are outstanding. I want to commend the puppy raisers who give so tirelessly of their time and effort to help produce these amazing dogs and I want to commend the training staff at Southeastern for their exceptional accomplishments. I go to work every day with my dog by my side; traveling safely and independently. He is my guide, my companion and my friend. I have Southeastern to thank for him, for the training I received and for the follow up services I continue to receive. I know the school couldn’t do it without generous donors and I want to thank them as well and point out the value of their support to my ability to conduct an active and meaningful life.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my abilities and those of my friends with visual impairments.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Of course, my dog. But beyond that, it's a warm, friendly place to be and I've found everyone extremely helpful and professional.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

warm, caring and professional.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Expand its services to blind people -- a truly wonderful thing!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

September 22, 2009
1 person found this review helpful

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September 22, 2009
1 person found this review helpful

4 stars is a really good score from me. I'm not sure any organization would get 5 stars. I've always thought Southeastern has a great mission and program, but I've been most impressed with the improvements made the last couple of years. There has been a renewed commitment to quality that I have seen in terms of service to the students of the school; health and well being of the dogs; responsiveness to volunters; and, appreciation of donors. I hope Southeastern keeps up its good work.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

not only physical mobility and independence but self confidence and mental health of the people who receive guide dogs from Southeastern.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

being able to get to know some people whose lives have been changed by its work.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated, hard working, and positive.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

at least triple the number of blind and visually impaired it serves each year.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 22, 2009
1 person found this review helpful

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September 22, 2009
1 person found this review helpful

As a Puppy Raiser for Southeastern I have been impressed with the support of the organization to the volunteers and the impact these sevices have on the blind community.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

very professional and caring people.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 20, 2009
2 people found this review helpful

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September 20, 2009
2 people found this review helpful

Over the last four years, I have spent countless hours as a volunteer for this organization in several areas -fundraising, office work, events and raising puppies. I greatly admire the mission they are attempting to accomplish. While revenues dropped and the economy is still not recovered, this organization has spent funds on many unnecessary 'trimmings' (expensive decorative fencing, landscaping, uniforms, etc), reduced the number of clients they serve (from 90 to 70 annually), increased the number of employees (from 52 to over 65), reduced contact with volunteers and donors, new taglines/logo colors (new stationery, vehicle signs, advertising, brochures, etc.), a life size statue in a brick paver 'garden', etc. While the publicly accessed areas of the 'Nursery' has seen many improvements, the other kennels are not air conditioned or even screened, so the dogs live in heat and insects. Many well experienced employees (some with 10+ years there) were dismissed (most without severance) to be replaced with college degreed young hires with NO experience in breeding, handling, training, or caring for dogs or experience with blind individuals for that matter. Approx. 250 puppies are bred and born every year - with only 70 becoming guide dogs. A handful of others become 'Gifted Canines'. Although a 5 year plan is in place, the first priority should have been their 'product' - the dogs, and the clients they serve. Instead, they have focused on 'Image' and being 'premier' and 'world-class', none of which are necessary to GIVE healthy, happy, well-trained guide dogs to blind individuals. There is little to no appreciation or even acknowledgement given to the hundreds of volunteers and no formal program is in place to support them all. As an accountant, I have noticed an oddity. While the Financial Statements (on their website) indicate 2008 Management and General Salaries total only $121,000, the IRS Form 990 indicates the Director of Finance earned over $99,000 and the new CEO earned (annualized) $120,000. Together, their salaries alone total over $210,000, so the numbers are skewed. While it makes the percentage of direct program costs look better, it is not accurate. Additionally, according to a local prominent foundation's current salary surveys of over 100 area non-profits, the CEO and Director of Finance are grossly overpaid for this size charity and their length of service. The vast majority of those serving on the board of directors aren't even Florida residents. Unfortunately, I and more than a few volunteers (some new, some long-time) are turning our attention elsewhere until this non-profit stabilizes.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the independence having a well trained guide dog affords a blind individual.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

focus on human relationships, hiring mature, experienced employees and compensating them well, get and stay in touch with the donor and volunteer base.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the other volunteers I've met.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

mostly long-time employees and volunteers - some were obviously not in the right place, but most were well experienced caring people. The board members I met were totally out of touch.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

modernize the kennels and the dormitory rooms, improve volunteer relations, improve the breeding program to eliminate health issues.

Ways to make it better...

the board and management cared more about the dogs and much less about the elitist image they are 'buying'.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the huge amounts of money being spent on non-essential costs and the lack of money beng spent on caring for the dogs.

One thing I'd also say is that...

I would stay involved with this group if I thought the dogs were well cared for and a priority. The Board of Directors has taken a path that leads them away from this priority. The warm, friendly, happy place it once was is gone.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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