When Greg wrapped up 12 years of service in the Army, having served overseas in Iraq and close to home during Hurricane Katrina, he looked forward to life as a civilian. But persistent nightmares, rages, and crippling depression made daily life a battlefield. The VA provided counselling and medications, but that intervention helped only a little. When doctors told him he’d never be rid of the awful dreams that jolted him out of sleep every night, his depression worsened. “When you’re told that the thing that’s making your life miserable is never going to go away, you wonder, ‘what’s the point in going on?’”
Greg was alluding to the suicide epidemic among soldiers – 22 of them die by their own hand every day, more lives than are lost in war. “The day-to-day struggle just wears you down. People can’t understand,” he says.
But Greg knew he had plenty to live for, and wanted to. So he and his wife Angela discussed the value of a service dog. “The only one we could agree on was a Pit Bull,” he laughs, referring to Angela’s edict that they must have a dog that wouldn’t shed. Googling ‘Pit Bull Service Dogs,’ Greg found the American Pit Bull Foundation based in Charlotte, where he lives. “I saw their program called ‘Operation Sidekick,’ which is a military term, and of course I thought this was too good to be true. I called them just to see if they could point me in the right direction.” Instead, Greg got the service dog of his dreams, tan-colored Delilah, who was just a puppy then. Greg helped foster her litter, and despite a catastrophic bout of distemper from which several puppies died, Delilah and Greg bonded. With specialized training, Delilah has become a constant companion and the balm to soothe his internal wounds. He calls the American Pit Bull Foundation a “godsend.”
“If not for the APBF, I probably still wouldn’t have a dog,” says Greg, who confessed he was discouraged by the daunting process of procuring a service animal. He credits APBF with clearing away the obstacles and red tape. “This dog,” he says, reaching down and scratching Delilah’s white chin, “is the answer I was looking for.” Now, when Greg has nightmares, Delilah springs into action, jumping on the bed and covering his face with kisses. While he still has horrible dreams, Greg says his nightmares have diminished. With Delilah in his life, he’s calmer and happier. He still struggles with depression, but Delilah – whether through a paw on his leg, or just by leaning into him – says in her own way “Hey. We’ve got this.”
Restore Global has helped procure puppy food and dog treats valued at thousands of dollars for the American Pit Bull Foundation to use in their growing program. Founder Sara Enos says that with Restore Global on the lookout for items that can benefit her organization, it frees her to work on important initiatives. “Restore Global’s donations help alleviate fundraising, eliminate shipping fees, and allow me to refocus my time and energy on program development and other needs. We’re incredibly grateful,” she says.
As for Greg, he’s grateful too. “The Pitt Bull Foundation has a lot of moving parts,” he says. “If you can remove one of those moving parts – like having to get dog food donated — the whole machine operates more efficiently.” Not having to raise money for puppy food means the Foundation can focus more on training dogs and their people, an aspect that directly benefits Greg. And Angela benefits too. “Delilah takes a lot of the emotional burden off of my wife,” he says. “Angela’s no longer the one who has to wake me out of my nightmares,” he explains. That’s Delilah’s job now. And sometimes, when Delilah senses Angela’s having a hard day, the dog will curl up in Angela’s lap, or lean into her a little, too.
In his darkest days, Greg says Delilah is an incentive to keep going. “I can’t leave her,” he says. “Just her being near me, that support is huge. And she’s non-judgmental,” he explains. “She gives me unconditional love. That’s astoundingly uplifting.”
When the Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte upgraded its ultrasound technology, it gave the former equipment to Restore Global, certain that the two donated machines would find an appropriate home. A logical place to send the still-useful gear would be to a developing country with an urgent need. But Steven Wray, RG’s founder, had a different, more community-based idea. He offered the ultrasound equipment to – of all places – the Humane Society of Charlotte.
According to Donna Stucker, VP of Development for the HSC, they hadn’t even communicated their desire for such equipment to RG. But Steven – who has an unconventional way of connecting dots – felt there was probably a need by their veterinary staff for this kind of diagnostic tool. So he initiated the transfer. And even though the equipment was deemed out of date for human needs, it was still valuable for Dr. Stephanie Lee, who is now able to diagnose basic conditions on-site, quickly, which is a boon for her and the animals. “This equipment allows me to check for everything from pregnancy to kidney stones and bladder infections,” she explained. Having the equipment means she can often find a definitive answer as to why an animal is having a problem. And a faster diagnosis means less suffering for the animal, and quicker resolution for the owner. “Having the equipment gives us added assurance and confidence in our diagnoses,” she says. “Without it, I’d have to send the client to see her primary care practitioner, which is added stress on the pet and the client.” Not to mention the cost of off-site X-rays and ultrasounds.
The Humane Society of Charlotte accepts about 3,000 dogs and cats each year with the goal of finding them permanent homes. They don’t euthanize unless a medical or severe behavioral condition warrants it. The amount of time, patience and love shown to each animal is impressive, but an even larger, equally notable number is the amount of spay and neuter services they provide in a year: an astounding 13,290, and the ultrasound equipment is sometimes used in these surgeries.
Restore Global’s uncanny ability to pair a non-profit’s need with corporate excess is one of its unique signatures. Steven says that as a non-profit serving other non-profits, he’s been compared to Robin Hood. “Except for the tights,” he jokes. Providing non-profits with everything from medical equipment to paper goods helps relieve some of the administrative burdens that can distract non-profits from their missions. “We help non-profits not just do good, we help them do better,” he says.