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Donna’s Story: A local youth in need of a lifesaving service animal

“People say ‘you’re only one voice, Donna.’ But, I’m going to be a loud voice,” says the advocate and champion of a fundraising effort to purchase a life-changing service dog for a young person receiving support from Closer to Home.

This young person who Donna knows suffers from severe childhood trauma, which has led to the diagnoses of borderline personality disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder and dissociative identity disorder. Due to the complexity of this young person’s diagnosis, they have been hospitalized for over two years. Recently, the youth moved into a Closer to Home program. “The staff there is amazing,” says Donna, “but the youth is struggling.”

Opened in 2021, this program provides an intensive, safe, home-like setting that supports young people struggling with severe mental health concerns that can lead to high levels of risk for themselves and others. The program’s goal is that they will be able to safely leave our care and live successfully in the community.

This service dog will be the gateway to success for this young person’s transition into adulthood. The dog will be trained for two years to recognize when the young person is experiencing a dissociative episode or having a panic attack, providing safety for the youth and others nearby. For people using service dogs, anxiety decreases and triggers can be managed early, before unsafe behaviours or mental states escalate.

Donna knows that this young person deserves to feel a sense of freedom, independence and safety — something they have not experienced in a very long time… if ever.

This dog will give this person the “confidence to walk around the block, knowing that [they] have someone looking out for [them],” says Donna. The young person “can feel that bit of freedom after so many years of being institutionalized.”

The service animal will give this person a better quality of life, but the cost is high. Donna has already raised the first half of the funds through bake sales, bottle drives, bacon sales, auctions and flea markets, and now she is looking for community help to raise the remainder of the funds. Our goal is to raise $15,000 in the month of August so that this dog can be purchased as soon as possible from the company that will train the dog specifically for this youth.

A service animal will give this young person the best chance of success down the road, and Closer to Home wants to make sure that happens. We can only do this with your help. 

Donations will be directed through our Seasons of Hope fund, which provides urgent one-time support to vulnerable kids and families year-round, including things like coverage for rent, utilities and work boots through to larger needs like this service dog. Thanks to your donation, Closer to Home can bridge the gap between despair and hope for vulnerable people where and when they need it. Every dollar makes a difference. 

Please help us raise $15,000 so that the service dog can be purchased for this young person. Together we can change lives for the better!