Project FAITH: UnFranchise Owner Gives Back in a Big Way
Hello my FAITH-ful readers! Please put your paws together for Joe and Irene Farone for giving back in a big way! Joe and Irene have been Market America Unfranchise Owners for 10 years, based out of Wisconsin. They have supported maCares for years. If you have a set of the faith Cares service dog notecards, you have seen firsthand Irene’s beautiful work as she is the talent behind the hand-drawn artwork! She definitely did my furry friends and I justice! I wanted to share Joe and Irene’s update on Project FAITH, as you may remember my interview with them as they were raising money to make it happen (click here to read the interview).
The drive to the airport on June 3, 2017 was filled with so many emotions, as this was the day that “Project FAITH” was about to unfold. Thoughts of how we got to this day raced through my head: 2012 Market America International Convention in Greensboro. We were all introduced to the veterans and their service dogs. I remember going to the concourse and meeting the maCares staff and realizing that this isn’t their job, it’s their passion. We wanted to see the dogs and the veterans, but they were not at the booth because they needed time to decompress….then later briefly chatting with 2 veterans, Terry White and Charles Ladd, it was then that we started to realize the horrors we hear and read about are “real” with our returning heroes.
2012 was a start, but our real connection happened at the follow year’s International Convention. We arrived prepared and ready to spend time at the maCares booth and we did- every break or free minute we were there! It was there that we formed a bond with Terry and Charles, their families, NIKKI and most of all FAITH. That sweet dog who graciously poses for pictures for hours on end all the while working to comfort Terry. We learned about her namesake, the late U.S. Army Sergeant Faith Hinkley, who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect our country! We realized that we needed to do something.
On the flight home, Irene came up with the idea of bringing a veteran and their family to our beautiful vacationland area, Hayward, Wisconsin, to enjoy a week of fun and relaxation. Irene and I talked about it for months; then we ran it by Terry and Charles. I honestly believe they thought we were crazy, but they were polite and said it sounded cool. We started raising money by serving lunches at Dave and Jacki Blasko’s famous BEEP event. But there was always something stopping it; health issues, personal tragedy, more health issues, and doubts started to creep in. Then one day sitting in our office looking at the whiteboard will all of our thoughts and ideas Irene said “Just go buy the tickets” and let’s do this. On that day Project FAITH became a reality. We invited veteran Terry and his family to be the first guests…and FAITH too, of course.
Our community of Hayward, Wisconsin embraced our passion for Project FAITH. Local businesses donated meals, fishing trips, massages, and made financial donations. Many Market America business partners helped raise money and made donations as well. Our local Veterans Administration Assistant coordinated a night just for the White family at a local horse arena so they could experience first-hand their program for veterans called Horse Spirit. We had requests from the local newspaper and radio station to cover what we were doing, but that was never our goal. The goal of Project FAITH is to give our veterans a peaceful retreat and create new and good memories. As we look back on that wonderful week: Mission accomplished!
Wasn’t that so ‘pawsome’ of Joe and Irene to invite my people and me to their vacation home?! I can’t wait to go again and help others enjoy it too! To help make this ‘pawsible’, please visit www.maCares.org and click the Please Donate button. Let my friends at maCares know your donation is to support Project FAITH!
I’m stretching out and getting ready for next week’s maCares Tribute 5K Run/2.5K Walk! Be sure to check back soon for updates on upcoming news and events from yours truly.
Wags and licks,