Paws for Purple Hearts Celebrates Grand Opening of Facility Deep in the Heart of Texas
Deep in the heart of Texas, Paws for Purple Hearts officially opened its largest facility to date on September 20, 2017. San Antonio, Texas, otherwise known as “Military City USA,” welcomed Team San Antonio and our pups in training, Noah and Ann with open arms. Our grand opening event offered the local community an opportunity to get to know Paws for Purple Hearts and to learn more about the services we provide in our newly-renovated building to Warriors with Post-traumatic Stress (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and/or mobility impairments. This location is the first of its kind in Texas and is conveniently located at Port San Antonio on the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base.
Our newly renovated building is capable of safely housing many puppies and dogs and boasts two major training rooms where we can train service dogs and where Warriors participate in Warrior Canine Therapy™. In addition to the two major training areas, an array of rooms are available for important activities such as the whelping and raising of future service dogs, and the training of wounded Warriors and their service dogs in realistic domestic settings such as bedrooms and kitchens. The facility also contains a classroom where Warriors can learn the psychological aspects of dog training, and a veterinary clinic to help facilitate the health and well-being of our four-legged colleagues. Five fenced outdoor yards provide ample room for training and recreational activities.
Several key players helped to get our building renovation project across the finish line in good order. Port San Antonio went well above and beyond, providing logistical and infrastructure support and expertise, and a very generous financial contribution to help reduce the cost of the project. A magnanimous contribution was made by Home Depot and its “Team Depot” volunteers as part of their “Celebration of Service” 2017 initiative. Team Depot contributed many days of labor and a large donation of material and tools in order to add top-grade finishing touches to the building and its grounds, as well as address a few last-minute renovation issues. A note of thanks goes to our architect Cesar Sostre and his wife Nicole of C-Sostre Architecture. Their tireless dedication to the success of our renovation and their meticulous attention to detail ensured project quality during all phases.
Promoting the event involved quite an effort. Port San Antonio VP of Communications Paco Felici allowed us to leverage the Port’s extensive contacts for invitations, and deployed their world class media team to send press releases and post articles and a great video created by Juan Rosales with support from Phillip Williamson on the Port’s website. San Antonio’s premier PR firm Aguillon and Associates promoted the event far and wide, donating significant time and effort to ensure success, while Rob Rodriguez of Keller Williams Commercial went the extra mile to make important community connections for us. Paws for Purple Hearts San Antonio Team members Lindsey and Martin pounded the pavement and worked long hours to reach out to community members and contacts at local businesses and at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.
The grand opening event featured a dignified ceremony and ribbon cutting provided by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Numerous prominent members of the community and Paws for Purple Hearts team members attended, including (from left to right in the photo):
- Roland Mower, CEO, Port San Antonio
- Glenn MacTaggart, Vice Chair, Board of Directors, San Antonio Humane Society
- Juan Solis III, Board Member, Port San Antonio
- Ivan Buenrostro, VP of Membership, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Lindsey Velasco, Program Instructor, Paws for Purple Hearts
- Martin Bergamaschi, Program Instructor, Paws for Purple Hearts
- Noah, Service Dog in Training, Paws for Purple Hearts
- Major General Juan G. Ayala, USMC (ret.), Director, Office of Military Affairs, City of San Antonio
- Dave Platte, COO, Paws for Purple Hearts
- State Representative Philip Cortez (District 117)
- State Senator Carlos Uresti (District 19)
- Gabe Farias, President, West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
- State Representative Roland Gutierrez (District 119)
- Richard Perez, CEO, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce (not in photo)
- State Senator José Menéndez (District 26) (not in photo)
Port San Antonio contributed a generous donation to reduce the cost of the event. Chef Jason Dady Catering provided top-notch fare, while San Antonio’s own Gabriel’s Wine and Spirits and Real Ale Brewing of Blanco, TX kindly donated a variety of tasty beverages for our guests. Great Events provided attractive tables and décor, while Alred “Toro” Flores’ Hot Sauce provided light jazz and Brazilian guitar music to complete the pleasant atmosphere. Reilly Smolinsky of Republic Services donated recycling and waste disposal services to the event to ensure all was neat and tidy during clean-up.
Several companies generously donated items that enabled us to conduct a fun-filled silent auction, including:
- Purple Heart Wines – a three-liter etched bottle of their top-end Napa Valley red wine, plus a limited edition Purple Heart Lumi Nox watch
- Rita’s on the River – four dinner certificates to their prestigious pet friendly restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk
- Kuranda Bed – a large raised dog bed – orthopedic, chew proof and easy to clean
- Pash Paws – gift basket with dog collars from Honduran artists
- Pet’s Barn on Potranco Rd. – multiple gift baskets of premium dog toys and treats
- YOUnity Clothing – several gift certificates from the veteran-owned t-shirt company
- Petco on Callaghan Rd. and Ingram Rd. – multiple gift baskets of top-end toys, treats, and other fun pet items
A live puppy cam held the rapt attention of many event guests. There were also plenty of puppy cuddles provided by our two pups in training, Golden Retriever puppy Noah and Labrador Retriever mix Ann. Friends new and old came to celebrate with us and to learn more about our Warrior Canine Therapy™ and service dog programs. Paws for Purple Hearts Team San Antonio was humbled and extremely grateful for the amazing support shown by the community for our work to help our nation’s Warriors with PTSD, TBI and mobility impairments.
We are grateful to all who helped make our grand opening event possible, including the many individuals and businesses who so generously contributed their time, donated funds or goods in kind and/or participated and supported us by helping to spread the word. Thanks to the generous support of our new friends in Military City USA, Paws for Purple Hearts San Antonio is ready to expand our services and help more Warriors!