A gen­er­ous gift from the Auen Foun­da­tion was key to open­ing the San­ford J. Reed (Sandy) Nurs­ery at Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDD), a Coachel­la Val­ley-based, accred­it­ed Guide Dog school. The recent­ly com­plet­ed on-site nurs­ery is sig­nif­i­cant to GDD because it allows pup­pies to begin their Guide Dog jour­ney in a com­fort­able, stress-free envi­ron­ment with round-the-clock attention.

The facil­i­ty was ded­i­cat­ed in mem­o­ry of San­ford J. Reed (Sandy), whose fam­i­ly has been long­time sup­port­ers of GDD, includ­ing adopt­ing two dogs that were released from the pro­gram. Nam­ing the nurs­ery in Reed’s hon­or reflects a cul­mi­na­tion of many years of sig­nif­i­cant sup­port from the Auen Foundation.

In 2019, the Auen Foun­da­tion learned of GDD’s goal to bring the breed­ing pro­gram in-house. The Foun­da­tion pro­vid­ed a $50,000 gift to help get the nurs­ery for the pro­gram start­ed. After Sandy Reed died in June 2020, friends and loved ones donat­ed more than $10,000 to the orga­ni­za­tion in Sandy’s mem­o­ry. Then, in July 2020, the remain­ing fund­ing need­ed to com­plete the nurs­ery was donat­ed exclu­sive­ly from the Auen Foun­da­tion and the H.N. and Frances C. Berg­er Foundation.
“Nurs­eries are a source of hope, and this one is a trib­ute to Sandy’s gen­eros­i­ty of spir­it. It’s also a cel­e­bra­tion of him,” said Tri­cia Gehrlein, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Guide Dogs of the Desert. “The San­ford J. Reed Nurs­ery is a place syn­ony­mous with pos­si­bil­i­ties, which will con­tin­ue to unfold long into the future.”

Dur­ing the nursery’s rib­bon cut­ting and ded­i­ca­tion, Gehrlein was sur­prised with addi­tion­al dona­tions from the Auen Foun­da­tion and the Berg­er Foun­da­tion, total­ing $50,000, which will be used to pay for the dogs’ med­ical expens­es in the breed­ing program.
“It is extreme­ly mean­ing­ful to us that our long­time part­ner­ship with Guide Dogs of the Desert launched the organization’s impor­tant breed­ing pro­gram. The nurs­ery, which will car­ry Sandy’s name, will be the begin­ning of many more life-chang­ing com­pan­ions for peo­ple in need of Guide Dog ser­vices,” said Catharine Reed, Sandy’s moth­er and Senior Pro­gram Offi­cer of the Auen Foundation.

The event con­clud­ed with the pup­py hand­out, the adorable and excit­ing moment when pup­pies are hand­ed over to the fos­ter fam­i­lies who will raise them for the next 18 months. This lit­ter of Guide Dog pup­pies has been named for mem­bers of the Reed family.

The Coachel­la Val­ley-based Guide Dogs of the Desert is an accred­it­ed guide dog school that has been help­ing visu­al­ly impaired stu­dents find inde­pen­dence and com­pan­ion­ship through ser­vice dogs for almost 50 years.