Teens and dogs are a great team. The K9 Youth Alliance (www.k9youthalliance.org), a new community nonprofit, found a way to connect teens and shelter dogs in a remarkable partnership. Through the K9 program, teens from the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena have the opportunity to help train dogs from the Pasadena Humane Society. During the 3-week program, the teens work with the dogs for about two hours each day. It’s a genuine confidence boost for the kids as they see the dog’s behavior improve during the training sessions. The dogs benefit as well, learning the discipline they need to find new homes. A win – win.
Kelly Osburn, founder of K9 Youth Alliance, knew the organization needed help to turn their long term vision into a workable program in Pasadena. She turned to Melanie Goodyear, Director of Jericho Road Pasadena (JRP), about finding someone who might be able to help.
Leslie Swanson wanted to find a way to use her skills in organizational development and finance to give back to the community. She met with Melanie, and talked to her about her skills and volunteer work, including helping with rescue dogs. Melanie knew Leslie would be the perfect partner to help get K9 Youth Alliance up and running.
Leslie met with Kelly and loved the vision of the K9 Youth Alliance team and immediately signed on. Leslie was able to provide Kelly and her board the strategic guidance they needed. In addition, Jericho Road provided ongoing support during the project, making sure priorities and timetables were in alignment.
About halfway through the project, Leslie decided to join the Board at K9. She was also one of the volunteers, working with the kids and dogs. The initial sessions were a huge success, and the first group of kids graduated earlier this year.
“Frankly, I don’t know where we would be if we did not have JRP,” said Kelly. “Leslie and the team at JRP were instrumental in providing the guidance we needed to get the project launched. Leslie is the perfect volunteer, and now Board Member, to help turn our vision into a workable plan”
Leslie loved her first Jericho Road project and is already involved with a second project. “Jericho Road showed me how to adapt my skills to be a valuable volunteer, and provided training to be a nonprofit Board member. I never would have found this type of opportunity without the guidance of JRP. I have highly recommended the experience to several of my friends.”
The Leadership Connection, the Board training that Leslie attended, provides 9 hours of training in being an effective nonprofit board member. Both Leslie and Kelly participated in the 2-day Leadership Connection program earlier this year. There will be another Leadership Connection session in January of 2017.
Many thanks to volunteer Mark Rice for writing this article! Mark is a nonprofit marketing consultant, grant writer and website content manager.