Traveling in an RV opens new opportunities to help others. New locations, new organizations, new adventures all revolving around kindness. Ambassadors share how they stay active volunteering time and valuable resources of themselves.
Four Ambassadors share how they stay active volunteering time and valuable resources of themselves. Learn more about the SD Gunner Fund, Lippert seRV, Wreaths Across America, Keep Nature Wild and By Dawn's Early Light.
In 2014, I founded SD Gunner Fund, a registered 501©3 nonprofit with a mission to serve military families, first responders, and children with disabilities by training and supporting service dogs and providing advocacy and education for their well-being. I founded this nonprofit after our family experienced first-hand the lack of support programs available for veterans. In 2005, Hamilton was hit by an IED while serving in Iraq and suffered many traumatic injuries, including Complete Nerve Damage and Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. In 2010 our son Blayne was born and later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Then our second son Maks was born in 2012, and in 2013 Gunner, our service dog joined the family. Our service dogs have made a tremendous positive impact on Hamilton and our son Blayne. However, the process of obtaining our service animal was anything but easy. We witnessed firsthand the challenges of obtaining and covering the cost of an expensive service animal not covered by insurance. We also strongly desired to make service animals more accessible to other veterans, first responders, and children with disabilities.
Despite the great need for reputable, no-cost service dog training programs, SDGF is the only nonprofit of its kind in Southeastern Georgia. Since our founding, SD Gunner Fund has provided fully-trained service dogs for 85 veterans, first responders, and exceptional children – saving families an estimated $2.4M.
SD Gunner Fund trains service dogs at no cost for veterans, first responders, and exceptional children with mobility, hearing, psychiatric, or neurological disabilities. Service dog training lasts 12 - 18 months and focuses on ensuring each dog can meet its partner’s needs. During training, dogs learn various support tasks such as opening doors, picking up dropped objects, providing emotional support, assisting with daily dressing, or pulling a manual wheelchair.
There are many ways to get involved with SD Gunner Fund and our non-profit would not exist without support from amazing volunteers and donors! If you’d like to donate, your funds will be used to improve the quality of life for families and help create new independence and well-being for years to come. Volunteering is another meaningful way to give back to SD Gunner Fund. Volunteers are needed in a variety of capacities including: helping with dog training, helping set up and organize our fundraisers/events, sending thank you's to donors, marketing, and more! To learn more about SD Gunner Fund, get involved, and/or donate please visit SD Gunner Fund.
Having a history of PTSD and TBI, I can have episodes of anxiety and panic attacks as well as difficulty with memory, vision, and balance. Having a service dog has directly impacted my ability to confidently maneuver daily life skills such as going to the grocery store, dining, and general social situations. Giavanna is trained to assist with keeping me protected during panic attacks and to de-escalate those situations. She assists with balance and maneuvering when I am having difficulty. This doesn’t mean it is all work and no play. She is spoiled rotten. Giavanna is a bandana model, a baseball catcher, an award-winning stuffed animal locator, and world champion drool monster." - Kimberly
For those that feel the call to serve others, fulfilling that purpose while traveling on the road can be harder than it sounds. During our military service, we always had a mission to focus on, programs to manage and people to lead. Once we retired from military service, it left us feeling like we had lost some of that sense of purpose.
After a couple years on the road, we decided to slow down our travel a bit and become more intentional with our involvement in local communities in order to help give back as we traveled. At the beginning we were able to volunteer some time with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and also found a local animal rescue to help walk the rescued dogs.
But as we continued to travel, we found it increasingly challenging to find those opportunities. Whether it was because we were only in the area for a short amount of time or many times coming across roadblocks with simply not receiving responses back from organizations that we had reached to, which was very disheartening for us. It became clear to us that volunteering didn’t always come as easy as just showing up and giving your time.
Lippert recognized the RV community's heart to serve and listened to RVers desire to be part of opportunities that support local communities we visit through volunteerism. But, just as we did, many travelers had found roadblocks and lacked the resources to connect with local nonprofits. The seRV platform provides exactly that for travelers looking for a purpose to help provide a positive impact in local communities as you continue to find adventure on the road.
Since the release of the seRV With Purpose program, we have personally been able to participate in four RV community events hosted by Lippert’s seRV ambassadors. They have varied from helping local state park rangers revitalize a trail system by clearing large branches and debris, to creating hand-written cards for children in hospital recovery. We’ve also been able to support local food pantries in Tampa Bay and central Florida.
And the amazing part is that this is just the beginning for this program! In just under 4 months this program has completely changed how we are able to volunteer while on the road, we can’t wait to see what this platform will bring as it continues to grow. The best part is, all we had to do was check seRV With Purpose to look for upcoming events to sign up for! Check it out to see what you can do to volunteer, we will see you out there!
Keep Nature Wild hosts nationwide community cleanups, and their ambassadors or “Wild Keepers” spend time every month doing their part to pick up litter. The KNW team collected 199,374 pounds of trash in 2022. That’s a lot of litter!
Picking up trash is so important to us as we spend much of our time outdoors and have such an appreciation for this earth, we love to do our part to keep it beautiful. We have two young kids who love to participate almost more than we do. I absolutely love to see young people learning to love and respect the earth at a young age.
We have picked up trash on the beach, in National Parks, in State Parks and dozens of campgrounds. The amount of trash you find once you start looking is appalling. From soda bottles to socks, fishing lures to toothbrushes, we have even pulled an entire wheel well from a lakebed.
Others can get involved by applying to be a Wild Keeper, they open applications quarterly at www.keepnaturewild.com.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be." - Dante Alighieri
This foundation was started to raise money to help these Beautiful Children who don't have a voice live as normal of a life as possible. Providing school supplies, Christmas presents, diapers, clothes, hygiene products, and other necessities.
The mission is to make a Positive Impact on a Foster Child's Life who has been directly affected by addiction. To help parents in recovery learn to live and love life after addiction through education of life skills. We believe that if the parents learn the life skills needed to become better parents then their recovery will be more successful. We know that the best thing for the children will be to "Keep Families Together"!
If you have ever met Cheryl, then you know that this organization spoke directly to her heart! If you would like to learn more check out By Dawn's Early Light.