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Review for Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., Cassville, NY, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I am involved with a host of charities, including those which assist blind and sight-impaired persons, and which attempt to assist veterans who have become disabled as a result of their military service. I also contribute (in varying amounts) to such similar groups as The Seeing Eye, Guiding Eyes for the Blind and The Guide Dog Foundation. All are superb organizations, and deserving of support.

That said, Freedom Guide Dogs, perhaps because of its "mom-and-pop" aspect, holds a special place for me. The dedication of FGD's founders, Eric and Sharon Loori, to the "cause" is beyond ability to find words to do it justice. Indeed, a critical aspect to FGD is that if a blind/sight-impaired person lacks the means to attend a "regular" guide dog school or has been rejected by another school (where space, sadly, but understandably is limited) because the person lacks the funds to attend or cannot live her home area (e.g. because she has young children) or has a second disability (e.g. deafness), Eric will travel LONG distances to train that student.

FGD's has many compelling stories to tell, but two especially come to mind. The first is of a blind woman with Downs Syndrome who had no friends or social outlets, and who -- to be blunt -- but a sad, pitiable case. Eric trained the woman to use a dog which gave the woman not just mobility -- even the ability just to walk around the block in nice weather -- but her best friend.

The second instance involved a young kid who enlisted in the army, went to Iraq, and was not just blinded by an enemy bomb, but lost his hands as well. That young man's life vanished and even his high school friends (understandably) were at a loss to bring any joy into his horribly afflicted life.

After surgeons at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (I believe it was) performed a miracle by implanting prosthetic hands, Eric patiently and painstakingly trained the young man to use his artificial hands to hold the lease and harness of the guide dog which FGD provided to him.

I am not particularly religious, but in those and in other circumstances, Sharon, Eric and their few, overworked, unpaid assistants did "God's work."

Eric and Sharon live so modestly that I'm not even certain that they have health insurance for themselves and their three children (one of whom is their biological son, while the other two were adoptees, both of whom are somewhat autistic).

Freedom Guide Dogs simply is a great, worthy organization, and exactly what most people have in mind when they think of charities doing noble and selfless work.

Edward Hochman,

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

... somehow give it an endowment of $20 million so it could do even more of its work. As of now, it must go on a year-to-year budget with no reserve. I thus wish that its financial position was as impressive as the work FGD does and the inspiring results it obtains.

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Role:  Donor