78th Graduation Recognizes 21 New Service Dog Teams

NEADS held its 78th Graduation Ceremony on Sunday, November 3 at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School (“Monty Tech”). Supported by family, friends, NEADS staff, volunteer puppy raisers, and other supporters, NEADS Service Dog teams spoke about living with a Service Dog during a moving ceremony to celebrate their life-changing partnerships.

This fall’s graduating class represents a wide range of NEADS Service Dogs, including Service Dogs for Veterans, Service Dogs for individuals with physical disabilities, Service Dogs for Hearing, Service Dogs for Children, and Assistance Dogs for professionals in classroom, courthouse, and hospital settings.

In recognition of our veteran clients and Veterans Day, the program also featured a “fireside chat” with three organizations who are integral to the NEADS community: the Blue Star Mothers of Leominster and Worcester, and Quilts of Valor. The Blue Star Mothers have been providing meals - breakfast, lunch, and dinner - for veteran clients during their training on campus since 2006. The Quilts of Valor have presented beautiful, hand-made quilts to each of our veteran clients since 2010. Together, these organizations have provided more than 3,800 meals and more than 125 quilts for NEADS veteran clients. Ann Marie Slomcheck (Blue Star Mothers Leominster), Karen Belliveau (Blue Star Mothers Worcester), and Darlene Coit (Quilts of Valor) shared their experiences and addressed the critical role they play in providing veterans with a sense of belonging and community. 

NEADS staff member Angela Chabot was recognized for completing her two-year apprenticeship and advancing to become a NEADS trainer. Congratulations!

The class of graduating teams come from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, and Colorado. 

Many thanks to all who helped make this a special day, including our fabulous volunteer photographers, Richard Prager and Kristen Chalmers Photography.