An Arizona non-profit organization, whose founder is an Ahwatukee Foothills resident, just launched a new campaign to help raise funds to support and provide pet therapy teams to abused, neglected and at-risk children.
Gabriel's Angels' "Unleash the Love, End the Abuse" campaign encourages people in the community to donate and help the organization reach its goal of raising 25,000, according to Pam Gaber, founder and CEO of Gabriel's Angels.
The organization worked closely with FACES at Crisis Nursery, 402 N. 24th St., to launch the campaign. Two dogs were brought in on the day of the launch to "unleash the love," something that the organization has done for nearly 10 years.
Gaber said "Unleash the Love, End the Abuse" was developed by Lucky Dog Creative, a Phoenix advertising agency. The agency received the support of the Phoenix Mercury, as well as Alphagraphics and InView Communications to create a $25,000 pro bono prize for a winning non-profit.
Gaber said once the campaign was created it was matched with a Phoenix Mercury player, and was then voted on by the public, along with other campaigns for different non-profit organizations. Gabriel's Angels was ultimately chosen as the winner, and was able to launch its fundraising campaign.
"It's a dream come true," Gaber said.
Marsha Porter, executive director for Crisis Nursery, said for more than 33 years her group has provided a safe haven to more than 17,000 children. About 10 years ago, Porter said Gaber was a volunteer at the nursery and brought in her dog, Gabriel (who has since passed away), to meet the kids.
"Something magical happened," Porter said, explaining that you could see the children's eyes light up. She said she knew then that having the dog there to interact with the children was something special.
Today, a therapy team comes in once a week and gives the children an opportunity to pet, hug, brush and learn from the dog and their owner. Gaber said that by having the dogs come in at least once a week teaches the children stability, something they may not be familiar with in their own lives.
Gabriel's Angels currently has 150 therapy teams - volunteers and their dogs - who work with 102 partner agencies throughout Maricopa County and parts of Southern Arizona.
Gaber said Gabriel's Angels believes that the bond between a child and a dog is strong enough to put a wedge in the cycle of violence.
"That's the key," she said.
The dogs involved in Gabriel's Angels are able to show children in safe haven facilities compassion and empathy, which in turns allows the child to learn these things from them, something Gaber said a child has usually not had a good experience with.
"The animal is the teacher," she said, adding how neat it was to be launching the campaign in the very place where the organization got its start 10 years ago.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Gaber said.
To learn more about the "Unleash the Love, End the Abuse" campaign, or to donate, check out their website at unleashthelove.org.
To learn more about Gabriel's Angels, visit Gabrielsangels.org or call them at (602) 266-0949.
To learn more about FACES or Crisis Nursery, go to crisisnurseryphx.org.
Chelsea Brown is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.