Bruce, a yellow lab born in September 2017, is destined for greatness. He soon will begin his career as a service dog, helping his new owner navigate both emotional and physical challenges.
With rates of veteran suicide estimated as high as 22 per day, Bruce, and others like him, aid in preventing suicide by helping their owners through conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain injuries, depression and anxiety.
During 2017, MarkWest employees raised more than $37,000 to assist two organizations, K9s for Warriors and K9s 4 Mobility. Two service dogs will be partnered with a veteran or an individual with limited mobility in 2018. Bruce will be trained through K9s 4 Mobility, and another dog (not yet selected but to be named Gillick) will be trained through K9s for Warriors.
The fundraising efforts and donations honor the dogs’ namesake, Bruce Gillick, a former safety director who was “quite the character and loved by everyone,” said Pam Josephs, senior manager of Human Resources.
Following Gillick’s death in early 2016, Josephs founded MarkWest Matters, a cross departmental team working to coordinate the giving and fundraising activities of the MarkWest family. The group’s vision is to promote the core principles of the company by giving back to the communities where they live. In 2016, MarkWest Matters raised $50,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease – the disease that took Gillick’s life.
This year, MarkWest Matters representatives chose the service dog organizations as recipients because Gillick was a dog lover, and he had a heart for veterans. One of the ways in which Gillick volunteered his time was at a Denver, Colorado, animal shelter.
The bulk of the funds were donated to K9s for Warriors, the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or trauma as a result of military service post-9/11. Meanwhile, K9s 4 Mobility enriches the lives of the dog recipients by enhancing their mobility, increasing their independence and confidence, and providing devoted companionship.
A silent auction and kickoff celebration, organized in the spring by MarkWest Matters, raised the majority of the funds. The second annual auction was based in Denver and included an online component for other locations. Auction items were donated by employees, vendors, community members and others. Items included elaborate themed gift baskets, a guided wild pig hunt in Oklahoma, a three-day stay at a mountain retreat and more. Other MarkWest groups around the country held fundraisers as well.
“MarkWest employees are some of the most generous, giving employees I’ve ever worked with,” said Anita Linker, senior Accounting manager. Linker and Susan Sievert, senior Accounting manager, are co-chairs of the MarkWest Matters committee.
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