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Gift of Sunshine Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Health, Health Care, Human Services

Mission: Our mission at The Gift of Sunshine is to help disabled men, women and children live their lives to their fullest despite the daily challenges they face.

Programs: The organization is responsible for training service dogs that will provide physical assistance to mobility impaired individuals

Community Stories

13 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Gail26

Client Served

Rating: 5

The gift of sunshine's generous gift helped us bring our Diabetic Alert Dog, Nova , home to our son. The two of them are now inseparable. Nova goes to school all day with him, and sleeps curled up with him every night. He's been doing great with alerting to both high and low blood sugars, and even warning us when the sugars are about to drop! When our son was struggling to deal with his diabetes alone, those who knew him well, including his counselor at school, commented on how sad he looked before, and how much happier he seems now -The gift of sunshine truly helped light up his smile.

Elaine24

Client Served

Rating: 5

I donate every month to the Gift of Sunshine, Inc. I became aware of this charity when a friend gave me the name during a very stressful time. I had just discovered that my service dog Lunar Sky had inoperable mast cell cancer in his right front leg. It was in an area between the bones in his leg. It was not yet thought to have traveled to his spleen as many mast cell cancers do. I was understandably derailed from a reasonably peaceful time in my life to the chaos cancer rains on many service dog owners. The Gift of Sunshine reviewed my documents and forwarded funds to The Foster Hospital at The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in order to allow me to try to keep my sweet pup Lunar Sky alive and give him a chance to fight the cancer. (The Harrington Oncology Program there has two of the best doctors leading the clinical care of small animals with cancer!) He did very well for many months until the 9th month when he failed precipitously. The cancer had spread. I was very thankful that I had that time with my service dog of only just shy of 5 years. My first service dog worked with me for ten years. I later learned that Lunar Sky's father had cancer in his line. Mast Cell Tumor may have a genetic link - it is difficult to digest that a being so close and so helpful to your health and well-being has been given a death sentence. In Lunar Sky's memory I donate to The Gift of Sunshine with the hope that my small contribution will help another service dog team avoid the worst or at least delay it so that in saying good-bye the human can shower love upon that being that loved you unconditionally, (so important for anyone who is often not included wittingly or unwittingly), and gave you a healthier brain through the copious smiles which healed the human half of the team. Please join me and consider giving a small amount monthly to the Gift of Sunshine - it is so very important. Thank you Julie!

Donor

Rating: 5

i have volunteered and my husband and i donate to The Gift Of Sunshine! :-) it is a wonderful organization that gives a personal touch and joyous heart to each of the area's they support. Julie and the gang are lovely and are always eager to help those with questions or needs pertaining to what The Gift of Sunshine's "help/support guidelines" are.

I'm proud to be a part of supporting this organization and will continue to do so. :-) Many have been blessed by the kindness and giving of The Gift of Sunshine over the years.

We wish all who keep this organization moving forward the best of luck as they offer their help to those in need. :-) Blessing!

1 Jean37

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to Gift of Sunshine Inc. because they are an outgrowth of the organization that trained my service dog, Teddy. Teddy came to me at 18 months. We were trained together for 3 weeks and then Teddy and I were a team until he died at age 17. Since I have MS and am in a wheelchair Teddy was my constant companion and helped me in so many ways. I was blessed to have him and I want others to experience the companionship of a service dog.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with TGOS for about 10 years. First as a part time paid trainer and later as a volunteer. Julie taught me everything I know about training service dogs & working with their recipients.
It makes me sad that we no longer actively train service dogs, but it also makes me very happy to know that we are able to help more people through the "Hope Chest" & the "Gandalf Fund"!
Over the years the experiences I've had with the volunteers, recipients & their dogs are the best life long memories I'll keep with me forever!

Jane60

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for the Gift of Sunshine to raise service dogs and help raise money since its inception. Julie Van Vliet, founder and president, has in incredible gift when working with and training dogs for people with mobility impaired problems. Now, her support for the owners and service dogs is unparalleled. This organization has an incredible heart, love and understanding of dogs and their partners. I have enjoyed working with this group immensely.

Donor

Rating: 4

I have been a dog owner for many years and know how much dogs have enriched my life, not only as companions, but as partners in performance events. I know they also serve as wonderful partners to people as assistance dogs. So I have volunteered for organizations to aid them in their work to provide these dogs to deserving people. But as the demands on my life have changed, I have moved from volunteer to donor and have chosen an organization with the experience and knowledge, the empathy and compassion to help people with assistance dogs in a way that I can be proud. That organization is TGOS, doing what I am unable to do, for people who can appreciate what a great asset a dog can be.

1 Jenelle D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been involved with The Gift of Sunshine since its' inception. Julie VanVliet, the president and founder trained my first service dog, Kramer, and TGOS gave me all the support we needed to maintain a good partnership over many years. After Kramer passed away, I began the process of finding an organization with a good reputation and reputable training methods where I would apply for my successor service dog. During this process I consulted with TGOS as I knew their expertise would help me find a great place. I applied and was accepted at Indiana canine assistant network (ICAN). In order to have enough financial support to pay for the training and placement fees, fundraising was necessary. TGOS contributed the majority of our funds through The Hope Chest. Without the Hope Chest contribution, I would have needed to do several more months of fundraising and would not have been able to be placed with my dog at that time. Because of the contribution and support of TGOS I was matched to my new service dog, Herbie, and we graduated in March of 2012. Herbie is an amazing dog who helps me in so many ways. I am so thankful to TGOS for making our partnership possible. I really cannot imagine life without him now. This is a wonderful organization that does so much good bringing people with disabilities and dogs together and supporting these partnerships in times of need.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been involved with the Gift of Sunshine for over eight years. They placed my adult daughter with a service dog while in college. He was an outstanding dog. The training and demeanor was unparalleled. Their help from the beginning was professional and compassionate. She had a previous service dog experience and it was not even close. In fact we thought so much of the organization that we participated in fund raising. Recently my daughter lost her service dog to a degenerative spine illness. They provided continual emotional and professional support in our hour of need. We just recently approached them about giving us guidance in training another service dog and as usual they have been there for us! They are good people, good dog people and good friends!

Michelle160

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 3 (now 4) year old service dog tore her left cruciate ligament last summer. I paid the $5000 to have it fixed and while she was recovering she tore the right one last December. Although I could pay some towards the second surgery I could not afford the whole amount which was going to limit her ability to assist me. As I started raising funds I found the Gift of Sunshine's Gandolf Fund. Thanks to their generous assistance, coupled with that of my friends I only have to come up with $1000 of the $5000 for the second surgery, which was do able. I can never show enough gratitude for their assistance., they are truly a needed organization that cares.

Lisa269

Client Served

Rating: 5

As we were in the middle of fundraising for our service dog, my husband suffered with some medical problems and was hospitalized 2 times. He then also lost his job. Without Gift of Sunshine, we would have had to wait several more months for our service dog. Because of Gift of Sunshine, we were able to have our service dog home on time and our dog has been a lifesaver already!

eightpaws

Client Served

Rating: 5

My service dog Togo became ill with a very serious illness. With very limited resources, I was scared about not only his prognosis, but how I was going to get him the care he so desperately needed. Then I was referred to the Gandalf Fund, "Gift of Sunshine." After a quick application process, I was approved to have Togo's care covered for a very generous amount. It has been an extremely stressful time, with lots of ups and downs and last minute medical changes. This organization and its founder Julie have been right by my side through it all. No matter what the need, they met it. Togo is on the road to recovery now. The doctors have all been wonderful, but it wouldn't have happened without the wonderful support of the Gift of Sunshine. They lifted a huge financial burden off of me so I could focus on the care of my boy. I can't thank them enough.

2

Board Member

Rating: 4

The Gift of Sunshine, Inc. (TGOS) helps people and their service dogs, and provides certification of therapy dog teams. TGOS' service dog programs are the Hope Chest and the Gandalf Fund. The Hope Chest provides financial support to people who are ready to graduate with a service dog that has been trained by one of the 501(c)(3) service dog charities in our Partner program. The Gandalf Fund helps people to pay for catastrophic veterinary care for their service dogs. The therapy dog teams that are certified by TGOS visit various health care settings to help bring some sunshine to people who may need an emotional boost.

I have been a TGOS volunteer and board member for more than 10 years, and have witnessed firsthand its evolution from a start-up service dog training charity to its current form. It is always encouraging to see the positive impact that a service dog makes in someone's life, or to see therapy dog teams bringing some love and enthusiasm to brighten someone's day. Likewise, the Gandalf Fund has proven to be godsend to people who are faced with a heartbreaking situation when their service dog partner requires urgent veterinary care. The people that TGOS benefits are often faced with formidable challenges and it is inspiring to know that we help them to realize their goals of achieving a more independent lifestyle. It has been rewarding to be part of an organization that makes such positive impacts on people's lives.