COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's not a price tag that can be placed on independence.
That's the message from a Columbia woman whose life has been forever changed because of Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, also known as "PAALS."
PAALS is a non-profit organization committed to enriching and empowering children and adults with disabilities and other needs through trained service animals. The group also provides educational and recreational community outreach programs for children, veterans, and inmates.
"My service dogs have been the greatest gift I ever gave myself," said Dori Tempio.
Tempio has both developmental and physical disabilities. Her current service dog, "Shack," assists her with almost every part of her day. He picks up things she drops, opens doors and assists her with maneuvering her entire world. Her first service dog, Casper, is retired and now lives at home with her.
"Because he empowers me to be able to do all the things I need to do in both my professional and personal life," Tempio said. "I'm able to empower others."
Thanks to Shack, Tempio is able to work her full-time job at Able South Carolina independently. Able South Carolina is a Center for Independent Living and an organization that is built around the concept of empowering people with disabilities.
Tempio is passionate about the advocacy work she does for others who also have disabilities.
This year, both PAALs and Able South Carolina are non-profits participating in Midlands Gives, a 24-hour fundraising blitz on May 2.
"Our fundraising goal this year is $30,000. And that's to complete 3 different projects that we are in desperate need of," said PAALS Executive Director and Founder, Jennifer Rogers.
The PAALS facility on Grampian Hills Road in Columbia needs some work. It needs a new irrigation system to stop recurring flooding, improvements to the playground area, and new doggy dorms for pups in training at the facility.\
Whether it's a $20 donation or a big chunk of change, that donation makes a world of difference.
"It gives you the opportunity to give back, just like PAALS does and just likable South Carolina does. And when you do, you're empowering members of the community to be empowered in whatever area they choose."
To check out more of the organizations that are a part of Midlands Gives this year, head to MidlandsGives.org.