North Hollywood – The SEIU Local 121RN Leadership Council approved a $1,000 donation to a group that hopes to connect returning servicemen and women with volunteer opportunities at animal shelters, non-profit animal rescues and other animal facilities.
Sherman Oaks resident Dee Baldus originally came up with the idea for Paws for Troops two years ago.
“I have been involved in animal rescue for many years and my parents instilled volunteerism in me when I was very young,” Baldus said. “I kept hearing about our troops and veterans and their great suffering after serving our country so valiantly.”
Baldus said there are already non-profit groups taking therapy animals into VA and other hospitals, but she wondered about the servicemen and women who are not hospitalized. “I know how healing animals can be and one night an idea came together: Get veterans volunteering and working in shelters, rescues and other animal facilities. It gives them the opportunity to get the healing effects of animals without having to adopt.” It also will help the shelters and non-profit animal facilities that are always short on money and staff.
Having recently obtained a job after being laid off in 2009, Baldus couldn’t pay to incorporate the group and file as an official 501(c)3 with the IRS. She did what she could by purchasing Internet domains and hosting, and designing the website, www.pawsfortroops.com, herself.
After hearing that Paws for Troops needed money to have signage made for their June 25 crafts, rummage and bake sale – which is being held to raise the money needed to incorporate as a non-profit — Local 121RN President Gayle Batiste wanted to do more than just pay for banners and signs.
“Our troops need all the support we can give them, for their physical and mental health,” Batiste said.
“I really like that this group will connect our veterans with animals for the benefit of both. That’s why I suggested that we give them $1,000 to really give them a boost in reaching their goal of becoming a non-profit.”
Jaime Deloera, an RN at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, also praised the group for their mission of assisting servicemen and women. In fact, she wrote Paws for Troops a personal check, as well.
Local 121RN Secretary Treasurer Nanette Logan also spoke to the fact that there is always a need for volunteers to work with and care for animals. Logan herself is a dog “foster mom,” having taken in 62 medically needy dogs in 2010 alone.
“We are blessed to have men and women who risk their lives for our country and our freedoms,” Logan said. “I am an animal lover, so I am more than happy to assist those who will provide another way that we can serve our veterans and help animals in the process.”
When told of the large donation to her cause, Baldus wept. “I am floored. I am just so happy that this is really going to happen. I am so grateful to the nurses of 121RN. There must be a special place in heaven for each and every one of them.”
If you would like to support Paws for Troops, the “Paws-atively Purr-fect Fund-Raiser for Paws for Troops” will be held Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Church of the Chimes, 14115 Magnolia Ave., in Sherman Oaks. In addition to myriad crafts, baked goods and used items for sale, raffle tickets for pet grooming, spa treatments, manicures, framed artwork, glass fusion pendants, and more may also be purchased. For more information or to donate goods for the fund-raiser, contact Dee Baldus at (323) 788-3391.
Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents nearly 8,000 registered nurses and professionals at 17 hospitals in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. This member-led organization is committed to the professional practice and day-to-day needs of Southern California registered nurses, as well as promoting the safe care of patients.